Blackberry didn’t stop listening to customers; it just figured it knew better

I have no means to ascertain whether the fall of Blackberry, as described in a Sept. 27, 2013 Globe and Mail article, accords with what actually happened at Blackberry.

What interests me is the story as it’s told in the article.

According to the Globe report, the fall of Blackberry entails choices made years ago regarding the smartphone market after the advent of the iPhone.

A range of scripts were available, but the one that might have worked wasn’t chosen.

Entwined with the chosen script, the views of customers – as key players in an ongoing interactive performance – were not, according to the article, fully taken into account. Instead, it was assumed that, in the long run, customers didn’t know what was best for them.

Some companies – I can think of Sony some decades ago when it chose to develop its business strategy without bothering with focus groups – have succeeded, at least for a time, by ignoring consumers’ current needs.

Instead, such enterprises have succeeded by creating a new universe of consumer wants and wishes.

Such a scenario failed to emerge for Blackberry.

Didn’t stopping listening; it just figured it knew better

The key paragraph in the article reads as follows:

  • “The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,” said one former RIM insider. “We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did. Consumers would say, ‘I want a faster browser.’ We might say, ‘You might think you want a faster browser, but you don’t want to pay overage on your bill.’ ‘Well, I want a super big very responsive touchscreen.’ ‘Well, you might think you want that, but you don’t want your phone to die at 2 p.m.’ “We would say, ‘We know better, and they’ll eventually figure it out.’ ”

Update: An Oct. 7, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “BlackBerry’s casualties find hope in a healthy tech sector.”


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