Remember that kid in high school who was popular, seemed to have it all, and then just disappeared? Maybe they never moved out of their parents’ house or they ended up at the local McDonald’s, taking your order whenever you stopped there on your sporadic visits to your parent’s home. That’s the kid that peaked in high school, and as bad as we feel for them that their lives ended up being extraordinarily ordinary, we secretly love that it never happened to us.
Blackberry is the kid that peaked in high school.
I had a Blackberry Pearl hand-me-down from my father when I was in high school. Just to age myself a bit, this was almost seven years ago when I began using the phone. I absolutely loved that Blackberry. I used the phone until the end of its lifetime which ended with buttons missing, a track ball that wouldn’t roll smoothly anymore, and buttons that just wouldn’t click anymore. This was during the peak of Blackberry, just before the iPhone took over the world by storm. I still had friends who used Blackberry phones and we were all obsessed. The funny thing looking back is that Blackberry was and probably easily is still the phone I was most fond of and rarely complained about.
The full keyboard was revolutionary at the time. Honestly, you didn’t have to use T9 anymore and anyone who used to text on the old flip phones can attest to how incredibly annoying it was and how difficult to learn the process of texting was with a T9 keyboard. But the full keyboard on the Blackberry was amazing and especially because it was the QWERTY keyboard layout, only two keys per button was arguably way more awesome than three (sometimes four, we’re looking at you letter ‘s’).
Remember this was around the time but people thought flip phones were really cool? This was the last time Blackberry stayed “trendy”.
Who cared if the camera wasn’t that great? There weren’t many other phones boasting an amazing camera. For the average Joe, we were still using Cannons and Nikons to take photos on family vacations. Remember how photography with actual cameras was still
something people did 6-7 years ago? Blackberry was taking the world by storm; “Crackberry” became a term for the phone and the dedicated user base it had built.
Before Apple created iMessage, Blackberry had BBM (Black Berry Messenger) and for those who used it, it ruled. All you needed was another Blackberry users pin and you could send them unrestricted length text messages. All around, you were just cooler by using BBM. All up until, the iPhone launched.
The first problem emerged with how small of a consumer base Blackberry was building. As for a high school student like myself at the time, I couldn’t fully utilize the features on Blackberry phones. For your every day and business needs, Blackberry phones were the “it” phone. Getting emails on your phone and being able to confidently type responses without worrying about how awful T9 was really revolutionized what you wanted to buy. Blackberry didn’t concern themselves with other target groups- they had their niche market and they were fine. No need to try to market to anyone else, you and everyone you knew that used their phones were doing plenty word of mouth advertising. Blackberry believed in
the loyalty of their consumer base.
Then the iPhone invaded. It was a well planned surprise attack. Once the iPhone caught fire you looked outdated carrying around a Blackberry- or literally anything that wasn’t an iPhone. The camera was better, the screen was better, the user face was amazing and simple to use, and Apple convinced you that you NEEDED the phone. You may not have wanted it, but man did you need it.
The big downfall Blackberry encountered, which I would consider their kiss of death, was their nonchalance about the beginnings of the iPhone. RIM, the company that owns Blackberry, was too confident in the loyalty of their consumer base. Talk about being stabbed in the back about a million times. RIM didn’t take the iPhone seriously, didn’t consider how seriously the iPhone was going to potentially dominate the market, so they didn’t prepare. Technology changes- that’s just one of the brutal ways the industry functions. Blackberry became so irrelevant so quickly it makes your head spin if you think about it too long.
Now I can’t speak for what the top guys of Blackberry were thinking, but I can only imagine it was along the lines of, “We have made a terrible mistake.” As they sat in their offices watching their market shares tank and loyal customers abandon them.
What really sealed the fate of Blackberry and turned it into the brunt of all jokes today was not adapting their software to be downloadable on Android or Apple products. Blackberry essentially refused to give into their rivals to keep their company alive. I mean, after the kind of attack they suffered with the iPhone release, I think they valued their pride over continuing a successful business platform. Because they ultimately missed their window to adapt their software to be available cross platform, Blackberry was swallowed whole by the technology shift. They were left behind, licking their wounds as their market shares tanked drastically. Today, Blackberry has made their software available on all the main platforms but no one cares. The last time I heard of anyone using a Blackberry was about three years ago, when my friend was trying to hold out hope.
My friend bought one of the touch screen Blackberry’s the company struggled to release a few years after the whirlwind of iPhone. The phone was terrible to say the least. It was littered with random glitches, the phone would freeze quite often, and she would complain she felt left out because she didn’t have an iPhone. Her phone completely quit on her about three months into their estranged relationship, and she jumped ship to join team iPhone. Her hopes of a better Blackberry days had died, along with her phone.
Although I personally did not join team iPhone, smartphones that mimicked the iPhone were quickly making their debuts and I ditched team Blackberry as soon as I graduated high school. Thus ended my great relationship with my Blackberry Pearl and it joined the depths of all other discarded Blackberry’s.
Let’s revisit our high school analogy. I attribute the iPhone’s takeover to high school graduation. As if Blackberry crossing the stage to receive their diploma was all the time they needed to lag just enough for the iPhone to swoop in and convert almost their entire user base. And then, just like that, Blackberry became the laughing stock of the mobile world as their stocks plummeted.
Try going into a mobile phone store today to buy a Blackberry. I’ll bet you’re not going to find one. The stores today are dominated by iPhone vs. Android. I’m pretty sure if you asked a sales associate if they had Blackberry you would have to google a photo and say, “I want to see this phone right here.” The looks people get when they try to buy Blackberry phones must be hilarious. You can’t download the prominent apps that lead the market today onto your Blackberry phone. This puts you behind. Makes kids feel left out in their social groups. Makes you the brunt of all bad Blackberry jokes in the office.
So now Blackberry is trying to launch the Blackberry Passport 2 (Surprise, I didn’t even know there was a Passport 1) and having it run Android Lollipop (or maybe Marshmallow depending on how long the launch takes). They’re still keeping the keyboard off the screen which I find to be a critical design flaw. The technology has evolved to on screen keyboards, so I feel that’ll be a tough sell to resort people back to this type of screen change. Then there are rumors about “Venice”, which will try to rock the design of the very undesirable slide out keyboard. Blackberry is definitely trying, but it’s unfortunate it took them this long to decide to bring their A game.
But the market is competitive, and unless Blackberry is prepared to create a phone that will blow Google and iPhones completely out of the water, they don’t stand a chance. If they had competed with iPhone from the beginning, they may have stood a fair chance in remaining relevant. Perhaps they could be like Brittney Spears- recovering from a 2007 meltdown and coming back years later with a revamped image and public persona. It could happen.
So what have we learned from the downfall of Blackberry? Don’t be stubborn- accept that in the technologically dominated world we live in now that if you don’t keep up or stay one step ahead of your competitors, you become irrelevant. You have to keep an open mind in order to keep your business alive and thriving.
Though as we all learned from that kid who peaked in high school, the further away your glory years are, the less chance you have of recreating them.
Yesterday Apple held their event to let you know exactly what to expect in the new wave of Apple releases- we’re talking from the new Apple Pencil to the iPhone 6s Plus.
– Apple, now that their giant event is over and the internet is moving on.
So should you try to crawl into your attic space to find your long lost sleeping bag to wait with the other thousands of people who want to be some of the first to own the latest iPhone?
Unlocking your smart phone isn’t as difficult as it used to be. But what does it mean to unlock? Basically, when you buy a phone through a particular carrier, you are “locked” to that carrier’s services. Unlocking your phone, means that not only can your phone use the carrier that you purchased your phone from, but you can now use your phone with any other carrier world wide. Your carrier is now required by law (go government!) to make the unlock codes free.
Okay, so that all sounds great, but why should you consider unlocking your phone in the first place? There’s a lot of reasons, but here’s some that top the list:
1. You want to travel internationally. With an unlocked phone, you can just simply pop out your SIM and insert a local SIM card and voila- you’re making calls like the locals. Don’t feel like you need to unlock your brand new smart phone either, an older one that you unlock to use specifically for international travel will work just as well. This way, you can keep your primary phone active for incoming calls when traveling, but you can use your unlocked phone with a local sim for cheaper outgoing calls (especially for local, in-country calls), and most importantly for data access. It’s not uncommon for data rates with a local sim to be 1/10 the cost of roaming rates.
2. You want to save a buck and switch to a pre-paid plan. Without being locked into a carrier’s restrictive two year contract, you don’t have to fear commitments like that again. Simply unlock your phone and enjoy the benefits of pre-paid mobile plans.
3. Your contract ended so you want the freedom to switch. With your contract over, this is arguably one of the best times to unlock your phone. Without the pressure of feeling like you need to return to the carrier you’ve just ended with, you can switch around as you please.
4. You’ve reached the end of the road with your phone. It’s time to bid thee farewell to your beloved older edition smartphone, but you’d like to get a little cash for it when you sell it. Unlocking your phone prior to posting it to online sell sites will only help to increase your value as you can have a larger interest in the phone since a broader range of people can use it besides those locked to the same carrier as you.
5. Your kids are begging for a smartphone. Even if you don’t see the benefit in unlocking the phone for any of your own personal reasons, another great plus to having an unlocked smart phone is that it’s a great option for a hand me down to a child. Since your kid won’t be locked into the same carrier as you, therein lies the ability to easily and simply switch them from your carrier, to a different one, and even to a prepaid depending on price. This flexibility is great for kids who will be using the phone primarily for easy access to call and even for kids who are beginning to learn what data is.
So, now that we’ve established why you would want to unlock your phone, let’s look at how you go about doing the unlocking.
First things first, make sure that you didn’t already buy an unlocked phone. If you bought your phone directly from the manufacturer or from somewhere like Ebay, there’s a very good chance your phone is unlocked. Can’t remember? Don’t panic- just give your wireless carrier a call and they can tell you.
Now that you’ve determined your phone isn’t unlocked, this is when you need to call your carrier to put in a request for the free codes. Once your request is processed, your carrier will send you the unlock code that you’ll enter into your phone. Some sites have filled us in on a pro tip that you should let your carrier know that the reason you want to unlock is because you’re going to be traveling abroad- it’s an airtight excuse that will prevent your carrier from become panicked that you’re leaving them and pushing them to start giving you a hard time. Apple even put together a great chart that you can use to learn more about your carrier in the U.S and abroad.
There’s something to be careful about however. Verizon and Sprint, in their older non LTE capable models, do not allow for SIM Cards because they only operate on CDMA technology. This means you cannot put SIM cards into these phones so essentially these phones will die with the carrier they were assigned to from the beginning. An article recently written by Jon Fingas over at Engadget, touches more on this “minor” issue.
It’s also important to remember that carriers are only under legal obligation to provide you with the free codes once you’ve paid off your device. However, carriers are required to post their unlocking policies on their website, let customers know when they are eligible to unlock their phones, unlock devices for all deployed military personnel, and send back an unlock request in two business days. We’ve provided the links for the four major carriers below for your convenience to check it out for yourself:
AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Verizon
If you would rather leave your carrier out of the equation, third party mobile shops still exist in places across the globe, which albeit is surprising, can really benefit you. However, this option will cost money to unlock your phone. The only benefit here is that you don’t have to sit on the phone with a customer representative for your free code.
With the kinds of phones coming out these days (check out our Mobile Phone Buying Guide), being locked into carriers just doesn’t seem fun anymore. It’s the 21st century- we’ve evolved and so have our phones.
If you still have questions about the way to go about unlocking your phone, if your phone qualifies, etc., check out the FCC’s FAQ on unlocking your phone for the official government word: FCC FAQ
Pinterest is one the rise. According to research recently done by Pew, roughly “31% of Internet users have an account with the service”, which although that may not sound like a lot- that’s 31% of all internet users you may not be reaching with your current internet marketing.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, Pinterest provides users with the ability to create “Boards”, which are places they can pin photos that they group together based off common themes. Most commonly you’ll hear about how Pinterest is great for wedding planning, since you can create boards about “My Dress”, “Dream Venue”, “Wedding Designs”, etc. So how can you use this for real estate?
As usual, 2014 was a busy year for mobile. Apple released not one, but two bigger iPhones, Amazon jumped into the market with the Fire Phone, Android and iOS continued their dominance, mobile payments got a huge boost with Apple Pay, and mobile phone car integrations got a huge boost with Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto.
I don’t expect that 2015 will be any different. There is still a lot of opportunity in mobile. It’s a dynamic market with rapid technology advancements making it hard for anyone to keep up. That being said, here are some trends that I’m watching the rest of this year.
- Android gradually pulls away from Apple in market share
Android and Apple have been neck-and-neck over the last few years, but I feel this is the year Android slowly pulls away. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a great product, but the shear volume of Android competition is creating innovations that makes it hard for one company to keep up with.
- Smaller phones make a comeback
For some reason, it’s near impossible to buy a flagship phone these days that isn’t at least 4.7″ in screen size. We’ve entered the “SUV” stage of the phone market where bigger is perceived as better. While the bigger screens are great, there’s still a market for smaller 4″ handsets. It’s an end of the market that’s been abandoned, for now. I suspect we’ll see new flagship phones come out this year that will give people the option of carrying a pocket-sized phone again.
- Phone hardware advances stall
There’s only so many ways you can build and style a rectangular slab of metal and plastic with a screen. In fact, all of the latest hardware features are gimmicks rather than technological breakthroughs. In 2015, the biggest advancement will be made in software – both in the apps and the operating system itself.
- Modular phones open up new business models
Google’s Project Ara, a modular smartphone project, is slowly coming to life. When it does get here later this year, I expect it will open up a bunch of new business models and spawn a cottage industry of hardware manufacturers that will allow you to customize your phone. For example, are pictures you’re thing? You’ll be able to plug-in a great camera. Need extra battery life? You can trade-off features for a bigger battery. The options will be endless.
- Windows Phone (Microsoft) ends up third by default
Microsoft continues to spend their way to grabbing market share. The problem is, it isn’t working. Even though their share of the market declined in 2014, it fell a lot slower than their competitors. Microsoft is going to end up as the third mobile option. It’s not because they won, it’s because they had enough money to survive longer than their competitors at the bottom of the mobile food chain. While this may change with the launch of Windows 10, the effects won’t be felt until mid-2016 at the earliest.
- Amazon takes another run at phones
The Fire Phone was a flop for a myriad of reason, the primary ones being carrier lock-in and price. I don’t know much about Jeff Bezos, but I do know that he is a fierce competitor who wants to win. The phone is an important part of Amazon’s strategy, and they will take another run at it this year. They need to dramatically lower the price and bundle with a free/discounted phone service made available through Amazon Prime. I figured they could offer the phone service as an MVNO through one of the existing carriers, but Google may beat them to it.
- No-contract options continue growth
If you haven’t tried going no-contract, you should. T-mobile has been very successful acquiring customer with their no-contract options, so I expect that we will see more no-contract options from all the major US wireless carriers in 2015.
- BlackBerry gets acquired
As a hardware provider, BlackBerry is done. Their software, though, is still very valuable. I expect that 2015 will be the year that someone looking to enter or augment their mobile offerings steps up and buys BlackBerry.
- Wearables look for a niche
Smartwatches, Google Glass, and fitness trackers were all the rage this past Christmas, but in my opinion, they are a fancy solution looking to solve a problem none of us have. Do we really need to carry around more devices that scream for our attention? I don’t expect big things from wearables in 2015. In fact, I don’t see the market for wearables growing until they find their killer app.
- Tablets struggle to maintain their growth rate
Two years ago, it was predicted that tablets would clobber PC sales. Turns out people realized they still need PCs for true creative work. Tablets are great consumption devices, but they don’t need replaced nearly as often as phones. I suspect the tablet market will still be healthy in 2015, but don’t expect it to grow as rapidly as in the past, and don’t expect it to be a true replacement for the desktop/laptop PC – at least not in 2015.
- Apps adapt to car integration
Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto are making their rounds at the car shows this winter and spring, which means we should see them in cars this summer. The car is a new context area for apps, so developers will have to adapt their apps to these new use cases. I suspect that developers will spend more time adjusting their apps for car integration than they will updating them for wearables.
- Mobile payment options advance, but don’t go mainstream
Apple Pay is gaining momentum in mobile payments, but mobile payments are still not ready for mainstream. The existing merchant credit card players are dragging their feet with mobile implementation, and businesses have too much invested in existing hardware to make wholesale changes. Mobile payments will continue to be an area of focus for lots of companies in 2015, but I still don’t see it as a mainstream payment option. Maybe in 2016, but I suspect it could be 2017 before the mobile payment market really takes off.
Out of all the above, the only constant I can guarantee for 2015 is change, and lots of it.