The Rise and Fall of Your First Smartphone

Jay Baruchel and Matt Johnson in 'BlackBerry.' (Photo: Courtesy of IFC Films)

A 60 Minutes clip from 1999 circulates around the internet every so often, in which the late Bob Simon rhetorically asks, “A couple of geeks who sketched out some software … could destroy Sears Roebuck?” He was referring to Amazon, which in the years since became, of course, not only a multinational behemoth but a prototypical success story of 1990s-tech-optimism.

Not every company of that era was so successful. Some look a lot more like Sears today.

The movie BlackBerry tells one of those less fortunate stories, about the titular smartphone that went from dominance to obsolescence in the blink of an eye. In 2002, the New York Times reported that the BlackBerry—named for its fruit-like keyboard—helped raise its company’s annual revenue from $8.7 million to $294.1 million in half a decade. But in even less time, the phone went dramatically out of style: BlackBerry’s market share dropped from 43 percent in 2010 to roughly 6 percent in 2013.

Its market share today? Zero.

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