BlackBerry All But Gives Up on Smartphones

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Few companies better embody the idiom “oh, how the mighty have fallen” than BlackBerry. The once-dominant smartphone giant has watched its share of the mobile market dramatically shift to more innovative companies like Apple and Google. In 2009, BlackBerry boasted 42 percent of all smartphone users; by March 2015, that figure was a meager 1.8 percent.

It’s not that BlackBerry hasn’t tried. But for all its attempts, the company has failed to lure people back—mainly because its products, however shiny and new, are still clunky in comparison to the powerful sleek iPhone and Google-fueled Android. So now, BlackBerry appears to be throwing in the towel and focusing on a different industry altogether.

The company made a surprise announcement today that it is buying Good Technology, a mobile security company, for $425 million. BlackBerry’s business-centric services will receive a huge boost from the acquisition. The company will be able to expand its mobile management software and draw in thousands of new clients, from defense firms to health care organizations and retail companies.

In a press release, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the purchase of Good Technology “will better solve one of the biggest struggles” faced by companies that deal with information technology—the problem of secure mobile communications across multiple platforms.

But the acquisition also serves as a quiet acknowledgment of defeat: BlackBerry understands that its time as a leading smartphone maker has passed it by.