Last year's Blackberry outage hit its user base so badly that one of their former co-CEOs begged for forgiveness in a video to the company's users. And, back in the good ol' days of late 2011, Research in Motion probably believed the heartfelt mea culpa would help stave off the hemorrhaging abandonment of their Blackberries in favor of Android devices and iPhones. Sadly, I don't think the video had much affect on Blackberry's fate - their stock has recklessly careened from roughly $20 per share back when the 2011 outage happened, to trading at a mere $6.45 per share at the writing of this rant.
No, the outages had little to do with the Blackberry's demise, and yesterday's more tepid online reaction to their recent stumble was proof positive that their downfall was not so much due to service outages, but really caused by a cancer that technology companies should wake up every morning trying to prevent - obsessing that their offering remains relevant in the eyes of its consumption ecosystem.
In the early days of mobile smart devices, Research in Motion was the king, and the Blackberry was its magic scepter. The company had an almost exclusive hold on any organization who wanted to put e-mail in the hands of its mobile workforce. And, while the company enjoyed its view from the top of the mountain, they stayed true to the things that made their invention explode onto the scene - refining the devices with streamlined tactile keyboards, compensating for small screen real estate with brighter displays and crisper pixelation, and keeping a absolute tight stranglehold on providing developers a way to create applications to enhance the Blackberry experience.
Wait a minute - go back and read the last sentence VERY VERY closely...those maxims Research in Motion stood by sound NOTHING like what you experience with Android devices and iPhones. Those electric doodads use touch screens which enable larger displays, and have robust development platforms that have given us such wonderful gems like "Angry Birds" and "iFart Mobile". OK, maybe there are more beneficial apps out there, but the point is that once the mobile user community got hooked on devices that were more in line with what they were expecting, the mass exodus away from Blackberry began.
And this brings me back to the point of Technical Relevancy. Research in Motion's behavior with Blackberry should serve as a reminder to ANY technology company looking to grow and increase its marketshare (i.e. ALL of them) - if you are dedicated to evolving your product lines, don't do it in a vacuum-based Ivory Tower based on how things used to be...because somebody else is laying the foundation for another tower RIGHT NEXT to yours.
Don't believe me? Ask my former employer Sun Microsystems or Novell how they're doing...