Founded by two Canadian engineering students in 1984, Research in Motion or RIM began developing wireless data technology, experimenting with pagers, point of sale terminals, and modems. In 1998, RIM released the RIM 900 Inter@ctive Pager, a pager with a small display and keyboard for peer to peer messaging, faxes, and emails. By the early to mid-2000’s, the company began releasing mobile phones that became increasingly popular within the business community. In September of 2006, RIM released the very first Blackberry Pearl mobile phone, featuring the famous Blackberry keyboard, a camera, and a media player – the device soon dominated the burgeoning mobile phone market.
Blackberry phones were so popular, they quickly gained the slang nickname of “Crackberry”, due to the addictive nature of sending and receiving SMS messages and emails on the devices. Even after the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, and the first Android phone in 2008, Blackberry phones still led the market in sales until the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Since 2010, Blackberry sales saw a consistent decline, and according to the latest quarterly data from research firm Gartner, Blackberry’s share of the international mobile phone market has finally hit 0.0%. How the mighty have fallen.
According to Gartner’s report, more than 432 million smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2016. Of those 432 million, only 207,900 phones were Blackberry devices running the Blackberry OS, totaling 0.048% of the market share. By contrast, 352.7 million Android smartphones were sold during the same quarter, taking up a whopping 81.7% of the market share, and Apple sold 77 million iOS devices, accounting for 17.9% of the market share. Android and iOS devices combined account for 99.6% of the market share, with Windows mobile devices taking a distant third place, gaining just 0.3% of the market share.
Blackberry didn’t release any new phones running BB10, the company’s own mobile operating system, in all of 2016. The company insists that BB10 isn’t dead, however, telling The Financial Post that “BB10 has a strong following around the world in enterprise and government, as well as consumers in particular markets.” Looking towards the future, Blackberry will release a new flagship mobile phone on February 25, only known so far as “Blackberry Mercury” – the phone will, however, be running the Android operating system. The company is also investing millions of dollars into self-driving cars, but it’s clear that the company’s days as a smartphone powerhouse are over.