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The Rise and Fall of Blackberry October 1, 2013

Posted by Media4Math in algebra, math, media.
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In our current issue of Math in the News, we look at the financial woes of Blackberry. Here was a company that at one time was the preeminent supplier of phones and other handheld devices. But in what seems like the blink of an eye, Blackberry has been reduced to a bit player, and soon won’t even be a publicly held company.

The Blackberry story is a textbook case of a company whose product isn’t hardware, but innovation. For a long time, Blackberry provided innovative solutions to cell phones with email capabilities. Their mini-keyboards became the hallmark of their clever designs.

But along came Apple and Android and the cell phone was transformed into the Smart Phone. Rather than merely a phone with email capability, the iPhone, and later Android phones, turned Blackberry devices into quaint relics. From 2008 to 2012, Smart Phones outpaced older-style Blackberry devices. Blackberry responded with similarly styled Smart Phones, but it was too late.

The evidence of Blackberry’s decline is obvious by analyzing its financial statements. In two issues of Math in the News we analyze Blackberry’s finances. The analysis confirms that Blackberry just couldn’t sell its own version of Smart Phones.

Financial analysis of publicly traded companies should not just be the domain of stockbrokers and Wall St. people. There is a lot of good data that can be mined and used in a math class. We will continue to publish more analyses of this type, in order to encourage math teachers too analyze real-world data. Once you do, you’ll be astounded at the wealth of material to work with.

Here we reproduce the current issue of Math in the News.