Technology

BlackBerry’s spectacular fall from grace

Patrick Stafford /

There’s a difference between being able to carefully spot trends and being delusional.

It’s probably not a good idea to call BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins delusional. After all, he’s just trying to make his shareholders happy. He’s a smart man.

But if there’s one company that has made too many mistakes after ignoring the warning signs, it’s this one. This week, it finally reached a head when Heins said the company would consider several options for the future of the business – including a possible sale.

It’s a far cry from his previous efforts to drum up support over the past 18 months. Let’s take a quick look at some of his previous comments:

“We believe RIM is a company at the beginning of a transition that we expect will once again change the way people communicate.”

Never exaggerate – it’s a good lesson. One Heins should have taken to heart. A company like Apple succeeds because it under-promises and over-delivers. Promising a revolution isn’t going to help anyone.

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.”

I’m not sure what would possess a company that makes tablets to say something like this. But that aside, it’s clear the tablet market has taken over from laptops. A statement like this just makes Heins look out of touch.

“There is nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now.”

Heins made this comment in July of 2012, six months after he joined the company. While he said there were problems when he jumped on board, they had been fixed by this point.

Clearly, based on the statement made this month, that claim was nowhere near accurate.

There is a clear difference between making statements to keep shareholders happy and promising the world. Clearly, Heins is in a difficult position, but these statements haven’t helped. If anything, they make BlackBerry’s fall even worse.

Promising everything when you can deliver nothing is a terrible position to be in. BlackBerry is paying the ultimate price – make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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