BlackBerry — rags to riches to rags

Simon Hartley
2 min readSep 16, 2020


Wikipedia — BlackBerrys

I really enjoyed the “rags to riches to rags” story of BlackBerry (BB).

Was fun to step back from my day to day work in secure mobile and think about longer term changes in the mobile world over the last 20 years.

My 2c insights are that BB just nailed it commercially it in the Motorola two way pager / Nokia candy bar phone era where low power hardware, low network bandwidth, and secure messaging were key differentiators — the “CrackBerry” era.

As the market shifted to Apple iOS and Google Android a decade ago, BB struggled to adjust to the new value drivers of apps, multimedia content, and monetization of personal data where powerful hardware, bandwidth, and encrypted messaging became plentiful commodities.

BB is still around with its QNX automotive solution and some enterprise software but Apple, Google, and Samsung largely rule the mobile world, the former two in software and services, and the latter in the hardware of its own and third party devices.

BB had some amazing firsts in Exchange email relays, encryption, mobile keyboards, and BBM was one of the earliest versions of today’s cross platform instant messaging and a notable “skunkworks” project within BB.

There’s actually a new company resurrecting the BB keyboard devices for which many business users have fond memories.

Originally published at on September 16, 2020.



Simon Hartley

Quantum, cybersecurity, Mobility