BlackBerry's shriveled fortune a sign mobile innovation is drying up?

Was BlackBerry's end unavoidable because mobile innovation is dead? Plus, Facebook would like your credit card info, the NSA is so sorry, and more.

BlackBerry died because it had nothing left to live for. A technology tale hasn't been this poetically sad since Wall-E. There have been many takes on what exactly sent BlackBerry plummeting from an $84 billion force of nature to a $4.7 billion fire sale special. But this week's lead Searchlight item offers perhaps the most provocative view, one that also offers a cautionary tale for CIOS. Wired writer Marcus Wohlsen suggested the Canadian smartphone maker's ill fate was inescapable, and moreover beyond the usual bad decisions, poor timing and hubris: BlackBerry never stood a chance because mobile innovation is dead.

Karen GoulartKaren Goulart

While such a proclamation may be music to the ears of some -- no more new/vastly different mobile devices to contend with! -- it's a little depressing to think this technology has been taken as far as it can go. For Wohlsen, once the iPhone came on the scene, it was all downhill for everyone, Apple included. Apple perfected the mobile phone and tablet formats and everyone else played catch-up. Some drew up nearly even while others fell away, and now all the remaining players are at the same inflection point. For the last few years, incremental changes -- better camera, fingerprint ID, more colors -- are all that Apple has really had to offer, Wohlsen argued, and, yes, incremental improvement has carried the company pretty far. Those nine million iPhones didn't buy themselves last weekend.

But mobile innovation dead?

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Just because you can't see the next big thing coming -- even those in the know lack any solid prognostications -- doesn't mean it's not out there. That's what makes all this exciting -- and a little bit scary; especially if you're a CIO. If you think tech pundits and analysts are harping on agility now, you'd better get over it, get used to it, and take the advice to heart. Given how quickly mobility has monopolized enterprise computing and with no clear sense of what's coming next, being agile (not with a capital A, but agile on all cylinders) is probably the IT department's best hope for survival. For CIOs, this means anticipating what the business will need in the future while operating in the present.

  • Oh mobile innovation, we hardly knew ye (probably because you moved so fast).
  • Facebook hopes users (and more importantly, advertisers) will like the mindless buying made possible by frictionless payments through its new "autofill with Facebook" service. Thanks FB, now I can have all my important private information stored in one place!
  • Flowers? Candy? Protection from privacy lawsuits? What will it take for U.S. officials to regain the trust of the technology industry post-Snowden?
  • I feel like half the time Siri is hearing but not listening; but Google, oh Google, you really understand me.
  • For those not convinced the world could benefit from producing more data scientists, here's a cybersecurity expert explaining how they can help stop terrorism.
  • About to embark on agile business intelligence transformation? Read these ten actions and then don't do them.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.

This was first published in September 2013

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