BlackBerry and Kodak: What these former Industry Giants can teach you about Relevance

BlackBerry and Kodak Sheza Firoz  |   2 mins read June 17, 2022 | 97 eye icon

The biggest lesson 2020 has left us with is this - everything changes in the blink of an eye. No matter what your plans for the future are, the future has plans of its own. The only way to keep up is to adapt. The need to constantly update is often overlooked, with potentially disastrous consequences. The cut-throat business world offers us some examples.

In the early 2000s, BlackBerry was extremely successful. Their phones were so wildly popular that BlackBerry had 43% of the market share. At some point, there were 80 million BlackBerry users in the world, including former US President Barack Obama. BlackBerry was comfortably on top of the smartphone market - until the advent of iPhones and touch-screen technology. BlackBerry, still high on the mammoth success they had experienced, did not adapt to touch-screen technology and cater to the masses’ new wants. It was their stubborn clinging to their presently dead but once successful business model that allowed Apple and Samsung to innovate and steal the spotlight. As a result, BlackBerry’s market share in 2013 was 5.9%, in comparison to Samsung’s 32% and Apple’s 12% share. 

Kodak experienced an even greater high in dominating the photography market. In 1981, Kodak sales exceeded over $10 Billion. They owned 85% of the market share for cameras and 90% of the market share for the film market. In the late 90s, Kodak refused to adapt to digital photography. The incredible amount of success they had experienced made them feel invincible. They failed to foresee the collapse of the photo printing industry. Fuji, a Japanese company with a significant market share in photography in Japan, went in a different direction. They diversified into cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and chemical industries. As a result, Fuji is still standing while Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The lesson repeats itself time and again - relevance is key. Companies (and individuals) who have tasted success and fall into the temptation of complacency will inevitably fail. They will grow obsolete as ambitious individuals replace them with adaptive, innovative products and skills. 

Both Kodak and BlackBerry did realise their mistake and attempted to adapt and diversify. Their realisation came too late as one went bankrupt while the other had to leave the smartphone market entirely. The success of companies like Samsung, Apple, Fujifilms, Netflix and Amazon is in responding to changing times. You, too, need to change and adapt your skills with the times. Hard work is nice, but relevance and smart work will always win. So, how does one stay relevant? Stay tuned for our next post as we take you through the master plan to ensure that you always stay in style. 


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