Changing With the Times: A Tale of How One Company Did It and How the Other Company Did Not
Starting in 1999 and for the next ten years, the brand Blackberry became as iconic for smart phones as the Kleenex name is for facial tissue. As recently as 2009, Blackberry still had 50% of the smart phone market and virtually any company of any size provided standard issue Blackberries to all of its key people. Just like with Kleenex, even if you were one of the few who weren't using a Blackberry (like me with my Treo by Palm), you often asked someone to just email to your "Blackberry." The iPhone had been introduced in 2007 but Research in Motion (the name of the manufacturer of Blackberry at the time) felt they were untouchable and that the iPhone was not going to be that much of a threat.
So, with this background, it was interesting to read that Blackbery has completely stopped manufacturing their smart phone in the wake of their market share falling to 1%. Obviously, the iPhone spelled its demise, but once the iPhone was introduced, there was a period where the market was waiting for Blackberry to make its next big move. They waited too long, and when they finally provided a significant update, it was too little, too late.
But that's not the way it is for every company that sees its original mission change dramatically.
One such company is the Sanford Ink Company of Chicago. As noted on the website
Made in Chicago Museum
, Sanford Ink started out as a leading manufacturer of "dipping" ink used in pens in the 19th century and into the 20th century. When the ballpoint pen was introduced, Sanford was backed up against the wall. Innovation and revolutionary thinking, though, led them to introduce the "Sharpie," which itself would revolutionize the writing instrument market. Today, Sanford ink is owned by Newall/Rubbermaid ,and the Paper Mate brand, (formerly an arch-rival is now just one more brand in their arsenal. Read the whole fascinating story in the link above.
Given all of this, is your company ready to respond and morph to address changing times, or are you in danger of going the way of Blackberry?