The smartphone market is a fiercely competitive and rapidly changing market. Over the years since Apple introduced the iPhone, we’ve seen giants fall and new ones take their place even as Samsung and Apple continue their near-endless rivalry. Some of those names that have already faded into the background still evoke fond emotions from those who may be old enough to remember them. While the chances of them reverting to their old identity, let alone their former glory, are next to impossible now, there are still brands we want to continue doing business in the unique way they knew how.
BlackBerry – Productivity
The BlackBerry name is often immediately associated with two things: a physical QWERTY keyboard and office work. The former wasn’t just a trendy gadget and that’s what made the latter possible before the golden age of smartphones if there ever was a golden age. This input method, unfortunately, hasn’t aged well in current touch-centric smartphone design, but that’s not to say it’s not intended, just that manufacturers haven’t thought much of it. live the two worlds in harmony today.
BlackBerry was actually better positioned than Samsung to compete with Apple at the ecosystem level. Its suite of services, including BlackBerry Messenger or BBM, could have been Android’s answer to iMessage, and its business-centric services would have been a standout these days, especially during this pandemic. Unfortunately, BlackBerry was slow to accept that Android would be its way forward, and by the time it adopted Google’s platform, it was far too late.
Palm – WebOS
Even before there were smartphones, Palm’s devices were already doing things we take for granted today, at least when it comes to productivity tools and even some games. It carried a stylus long before the birth of the Galaxy Note and was even the original subject of the late Steve Jobs’ mockery. Before changing ownership, Palm even dared to challenge the Android and iOS duopoly with its own operating system which, unfortunately, was perhaps ahead of its time.
WebOS still exists today, but almost only in name. While it’s understandable that Palm was determined to keep its identity, its name just wasn’t strong enough to sell the quirkiness that WebOS was at the time. There were certainly some good ideas that Android and iOS would eventually pick up on. Almost ironically, the stylus never really went out of style, and the Palm Pilots of yore have pretty much been replaced by Samsung’s Galaxy Note line, which in turn may be replaced by future Galaxy S Ultra models.
LG was the latest mobile giant to back out of the smartphone market rat race after nearly years of trying to keep the wolves out the door. The writing was on the wall for several consecutive quarters, but it was still a sad sight to read the company’s announcement. It’s especially tragic when you consider the things LG was willing to do that big companies like Samsung wouldn’t even dare to do.
LG, for example, was one of the first to put the fingerprint reader on the back of phones, a trend that continued until recently. It was the first to offer a commercially available modular telephone and is said to have been the first to market a rollable telephone. Unfortunately, this willingness to take risks could also have been his downfall, but he cannot be blamed for lacking imagination and audacity.
The real Nokia – Variety
Nokia is also still around, but only in name, really. Although HMD Global has done a wonderful job of ensuring the brand’s survival in an Android world, its name no longer carries the same weight in the industry, not for very long. Its near-disastrous chapter in the Microsoft partnership all but cemented Nokia’s image as a company that couldn’t adapt to change quickly enough.
Ironically, Nokia was both popular and notorious for moving too fast, flooding the mobile phone market with countless phones of various designs and confusing names. On the contrary, Nokia was famous for the variety it offered, especially when it came to design, even to the point of looking absolutely bonkers. Nowadays, however, taking such risks no longer makes commercial sense, which is why we end up with almost identical designs.