Why You Should Care That BlackBerry Has Stopped Making Phones

Less Flash, More Realness.

Tech news is full of stuff about acquisitions and mergers. But y’all, BlackBerry just straight up gave up on itself. It is no longer making cell phones, the tech that put that company on the map.

BlackBerry bails on building its own phones

What. Just. Happened.

1. Cell phones have officially stopped being just for business.

Who still uses a BlackBerry phone, you may ask? The United States government, for one. In fact, if the rumors are true, BlackBerry was hanging on primarily because government and law enforcement agencies bought these things in bulk and gave them to their employees to use. They were work phones in the purest sense.

Now that BlackBerry and Nokia (remember them?) are ducking out of the phone game, all we have left are pretty phones that straddle the line between work and play. We all wanted smartphones that could handle e-mail and Facebook. No big deal.

But with the death of work-only phones, will we finally usher in the bring your own device apocalypse? Will work just never end? Will it?

How the smartphone changed everything, or, the rise of BYOD in the workplace

2. BlackBerry hasn’t given up on the boring parts of tech.

Software isn’t sexy. You know what’s sexy? Hardware with interesting buttons. Apps. Anything you can present on a stage while wearing jeans.

BlackBerry, like Nokia, has shifted toward working on the un-sexy parts of the phone industry. There’s no champagne receptions in Palo Alto for negotiating brand licensing deals in Indonesia. But there might be more sustainable money to be had in picking up the “boring” jobs. Someone’s got to do it, right? You’re also probably less likely to be accused of going to “a dark place,” which is what BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote about Apple last year.

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3. It takes guts for a company to actually chase profits.

There’s a principle in marketing called growth hacking. I love it so much because it’s so straightforward: Is what you’re doing working? No? Then shut it off and find something else that works. I don’t care if you loved the idea of your company having a Pinterest profile or the logo being a particular shade of green. If it’s not working, question it. Better yet, try something else and see if that works better.

The more I read about BlackBerry making this decision, the more I admire them as a company. Their new CEO said openly that the phone part of their business wasn’t making as much money anymore. They needed to make money. So they cut it off, brand recognition be damned.

Imagine if Apple decided to stop making computers. Or if Louis Vuitton stopped making purses, all in the name of doing what made them the most money. It’s so strange—and kind of groundbreaking—for a company to do something like that. If it pays off, we may see even more brands turning away from history and following the money.

BlackBerry Abandons Its Phone

Brit McGinnis is a copywriter and author of several books. Her work has appeared on XOJane, SparkNotes and anywhere fine stories are sold. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


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