BlackBerry has slowly transformed and has a new identity now. Changing its name from Research In Motion to BlackBerry is a step towards that – if only a symbolic one. The launch of its new devices has created a buzz all across the world. The company’s rivals may not openly accept it, but it does pose a great threat to them now.
Let’s go back in time and try to put the company’s history in a nutshell.
In February 1985, Research In Motion was co-founded by Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin. They were based in Waterloo, Canada.
By 1989, the company had come out with RIMGate which later came to be known as BES or BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The company got listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1997. Using TSE, the company raised more than $115 million.
With the synchronization of corporate emails to BlackBerry devices in 1999, RIM reported revenue of $221 million the following year. By the end of 1999, the company had another $250 million in its kitty by listing its shares on NASDAQ. The legendary BlackBerry 850 was introduced in late 1999. The QWERTY keyboard used in it became an integral part of all BlackBerry cell phones after that.
In 2001, during the World Trade Center attack, people using their BlackBerrys were able to communicate outside, although normal cellular network was down. In late 2001, RIM began a five year battle with NTP over possible patent infringement issues. The next year, voice transmission became possible over BlackBerrys and over the next three years, more than one million people bought themselves a BlackBerry.
In March 2006, the NTP dispute was finally resolved with RIM paying $612 million for the same. When Apple unveiled its iPhone in January 2007, BlackBerry launched its flagship product in June. It was named, ahead of the iPhone, as Invention of the Year by Time. And with it, RIM crossed the 10 million subscriber mark in October 2007.
In May 2008, RIM unveiled the first handheld in its Bold series. By July, Apple had released iPhone 3G which got rave reviews. RIM responded with its first touch screen device – the BlackBerry Storm. The device received a mixed response.
RIM’s App World was launched in April 2009. To further add to its features, RIM paid C$200 million to QNX Software Systems for an upgrade of its system capabilities. In mid-2010, the Torch was unveiled. It was the first BlackBerry with a slider keyboard. The QNX system was now used to develop the Playbook tablet. It was eventually launched in April 2011 but lacked basic functions like email and an organizer.
Over the course of 2011, RIM kept lowering its financial forecasts. Eventually, it reached a low point by the end of the year. Lazardis and Joe Balsillie were now taking home a token salary of $1. However, voices of dissent against the co-CEO’s had become louder. In October 2011, BlackBerry’s infrastructure collapsed which led to three days of no services for BlackBerry subscribers across the world. BlackBerry had now slowly started losing grip over the corporate sector as well.
In January 2012, the two co-CEO’s finally stepped down. Thorstein Heins became the CEO and was supported by Barbara Stymiest as chair of the Board. In March, Heins announced that there would be no more financial forecasts. He also promised a turnaround in RIM’s fortunes. In June 2012, RIM delayed launching the BlackBerry 10. RIM’s stock reached its lowest level. However, the loss for 2012 turned out to be less than that expected.
On January 30, this year, the BlackBerry 10 was finally launched. It has received great reviews till now and is expected to be a game-changer.