Sometimes a company can seem so large that its position in the market appears unassailable. However, history teaches us that even a seeming behemoth can quickly be brought down by new competition. The sudden decline of the smartphone giant Blackberry illustrates how big does not mean invincible and reveals how allowing companies to compete and innovate is often more beneficial to consumers than excessive regulation.
While not in the smartphone market today, Blackberry’s name used to be synonymous with smartphones. In 2009, Blackberry controlled 20 percent of the global smartphone market, and half of the U.S. market. Blackberry phones were the first premium smartphones and introduced key features that consumers have come to expect, such as internet access and messaging.
Blackberry’s place as a status symbol was cemented through several celebrity endorsements in the early 2000s and its use by prominent figures in politics like Barack Obama. With its substantial market share and strong name recognition, Blackberry was the premier smartphone producer of its time.
Fast forward to 2024, and Blackberry no longer even makes smartphones. Instead, it focuses on cybersecurity. The reason for this shift is that Blackberry failed to adequately adapt to changes in the market. As a result, it gradually lost ground to emerging market players like Apple.
Blackberry’s primary clientele used the phones for business purposes. The company made the mistake of believing that Apple’s iPhone did not represent a competitive threat because of the seemingly different focus.
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Trey Price is a technology policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information, visit https://www.theamericanconsumer.org/ or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.