I sat down at a cafe table in downtown Toronto last week, and was introduced to a group of guys from Waterloo. Mustering up everything I knew about the place from my vague memories of visiting Waterloo as a kid, I guessed that they were either Mennonites, meat-packers at the Schneider’s plant, or professors at the University. I was wrong on all accounts.
“What else is going on in Waterloo, then?” I asked.
“Well, we have BlackBerry,” one of them responded.
“BlackBerry? I was trying to guess where you worked. Does BlackBerry even have employees anymore?” I laughed at my own biting wit. As usual, I was laughing alone.
BlackBerry has famously fallen from grace. Where once they enjoyed a commanding slice of the cell phone market pie, a failure to adapt and to anticipate the needs of consumers in a rapidly-changing industry has spelled doom for the Canadian company. The Globe and Mail reports that BlackBerry’s stock has hit “another” 10-year low, this being at least the third such dramatic plummet since 2006. Nasdaq has BlackBerry at $5.44 per share.
“They’re coming back,” the guy in the cafe said, his brave voice burying any hint of desperation. “They have a new phone out now, the Z10, and it’s good.”
“Isn’t that the phone that Rogers refused to carry?” i asked.
“They’ve changed their minds on that,” he clarified. “And soon, they’re going to open it up so that the whole Android Marketplace is available on BlackBerry phones.” I didn’t want to insult the guy, but secretly, I couldn’t think of a less appealing selling point for a phone than the Android Marketplace, which always makes me feel like I’m scouring late-90’s shareware sites.
Pundits like Paul R. La Monica writing for CNN Money agree. “I honestly believe that BlackBerry’s stock may finally have bottomed,” he writes. “Don’t laugh.”
In the spirit of conviviality, and perhaps to keep him from seeing me as a COMPLETE monster, I told the guy at the cafe about my recent experience at a mixer. There I was at the Hotel Ocho for Gamercamp 2014, when a colleague of mine pulled out an older-model BlackBerry phone.
“Ha, ha, ha! Why are you rocking that old thing??” I laughed, despite the fact that I didn’t even own a cellphone myself. Once more, I appeared to be the only one laughing.
“Here’s why,” she said, and threw her phone on the ground, Lonely Island-style. The group of game developers in our conversational circle all gasped as it exploded into multiple pieces. I could hear fingers tightening on precious glass screens all around me, and the unmistakeable sound of testicles retreating into body cavities for protection. She calmly stooped over and collected the cell phone fragments—the body, the battery, and the battery housing door—and snapped them all back together. The phone was undamaged. Around the circle, white-knuckled cell phone grips were released, and sphincters slowly relaxed. We all sighed.
Here’s hoping, for the sake of BlackBerry and its shareholders, that the company is as indestructible as its phones.