BlackBerry co-founder Balsillie says that the BlackBerry Storm had a 100% return rate

BlackBerry co-founder Balsillie says that the BlackBerry Storm had a 100% return rate
When Verizon brass turned down the Apple iPhone, they never thought for a second that their decision would be right up there with the infamous choice made by an executive at Decca Records to turn down the Beatles. But once the iPhone was launched in June 2007, it quickly became apparent to Verizon that they had made a mistake. The carrier tried to come up with a handset that could take on Apple and AT&T and eventually turned to BlackBerry to develop such a device. The result was the BlackBerry Storm, the manufacturer's first touchscreen phone.

Sporting the SurePress clickable screen, the Storm was released on November 21, 2008 and quickly set sales records at Verizon. It also set records as the buggiest smartphone ever launched. Former BlackBerry co-founder and co-CEO Jim Balsillie recently told an audience in Canada that nearly every Storm had to be returned and replaced. The phone, according to the former executive, had a "100 percent return rate."

In the wake of the Storm's launch, back in January 2009 Balsillie told smartphone buyers that the frustration felt by Storm buyers when they first unboxed their phone, would be the new norm. Thankfully, that proved not to be the case. As for BlackBerry, the company was valued at $83 billion in 2008 and held 50% of the smartphone market. Today, the company is valued at $4.95 billion and owns a very small share of the smartphone market.


Balsillie now admits that the smartphone market has left BlackBerry behind. But the executive still chooses to live in the past, as his daily driver is the BlackBerry Bold. "I love it and you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands," he said.

As for the Storm, a software update to BlackBerry 5 OS made the phone useable. So much so, that a much improved BlackBerry Storm 2 was released nearly a year later.



source: Bidness

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34 Comments

1. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Time running so fast, this device feels like just yesterday people who has 'still a long way to catch up' attitude gonna end up this way, because time pass by, there's no time machine for you to turning back

17. Mxyzptlk unregistered

What do you mean?

25. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2299; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

While I agree with his assessment that the Storm was a bad device, he was actually quite wrong in saying the device had a 100% return rate. At the time analysts predicted it had at most a 50% return rate, but then Verizon actually came out and said that it was only a 10% return rate. That's still pretty bad considering Blackberry only had a 3% return rate before the Storm's release, but it's nowhere near a 100% return rate. If that were the case, then there wouldn't be so many up for sale on eBay or you wouldn't have people commenting and saying they kept theirs on these articles. I actually had the opportunity to own the Storm 2 and I thought it was a great device, but the OS was not great at all. If the Storm 2 had been released with what Blackberry offers now in Blackberry 10 OS, it may have been a different ballgame. Some people liked the clickable touchscreen, others didn't. I thought it made typing on it more natural. But that's just my opinion.

2. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

Let me put it bluntly: The BlackBerry Storm SUCKED massive donkey wang. That clickable screen was horrible. I wasn't a fan of the Pearl or Style, either. The Bold, Curve and Torch series were the best of BBOS7 and below. BlackBerry 10 is lightyears better (and world's different) than BBOS7, though. The OS is so powerful and a pleasure to use. However, what I have been noticing over the past year or so is that the closer it gets to BlackBerry reporting their ER, the more negative articles about BlackBerry are released by "tech" blogs. Hmmm....

3. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

They should've just included vibrating haptic feedback. Not only was SurePress a drain on time and resources (that they could've used to optimize the OS and add WiFi), but it was way worse than anything else out there. Although, to be fair, RIM's internally-made test units worked pretty well. It was when they scaled up for mass-production that quality went out the window. Have you read Losing the Signal yet? It's a pretty even-handed telling of the Laz-Bals years.

7. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

Haven't read the book, and honestly, I don't plan to. It's pretty clear that the two clowns and the one that came right after them (collectively known as the 3 stooges) screwed up BlackBerry big time. They became complacent. The company became "fat" and was extremely slow to react under their watch. John Chen is doing a more than admirable job now that he's their and the stooges are out, but it's an uphill battle to the extreme for BlackBerry in the consumer market. Chen is making strides, little by precious little, in the consumer market, but it's best that BlackBerry continue to focus primarily on enterprise and relegate the consumer market to the back-burners for the time being. Enterprise, government, and regulated industries, especially with BlackBerry focusing on software as opposed to hardware, is the way to go.

9. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

To be fair to Jim and Mike, none of the other major players of the time were able to see the future either. Motorola, Ericssen, Nokia, and Siemens have all either dropped out or been bought. That Blackberry is even still around is testament to the fact that they were infallible for a whole decade. I don't know if they became complacent. They were innovating the whole time. They were just innovating in the wrong direction.

12. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

This is true, BB was doing some good devices, they were just the wrong type of devices for the market.

18. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

True, BlackBerry still being around is a testament to their strength and fortitude. And while they were still innovating, and definitely still are, the three stooges didn't react fast enough to what was going on around them. Gotta call it how it is. Now Chen, he's on point, and he has a plan and vision for where BlackBerry needs to be: Enterprise, government, regulated industries and IoT.

15. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Let's hope force touch has the same issues and the ifans don't it up on time. The Apple PR is great at damage control though although antenna gate and map gate was impossible to cover up completely. Lol

16. Mxyzptlk unregistered

First of all you misinformed user antenna gate was an overblown issue. Especially since you're mentioning cover up like how Android fans cover up certain Android phone having connection issues. Let's not forget about Lollipopgate the worst Android release in recent years.

20. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

No reception unless you put a case on or hold it a certain way is a pretty big issue. In fact, I don't think it gets any bigger than that. Lol

26. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

The way I've always heard it is no reception IF you hold it a certain way, not UNLESS you hold it a certain way, although technically speaking, both are correct. Classic way to spin opinion.

11. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

It was more like a 99.99% return rate. I know my sister used it through her full 2 year contract.

24. xq10xa

Posts: 808; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

Let me put it bluntly: Blackberry sucks.

27. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

And what multi-billion dollar company are you running these days? How about you add something of worth to the conversation or just don't comment at all...

29. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

A pleasure? There is NOTHING pleasurable about using a blackberry. I have an OS10 and hate everything about it. It gets powered up and used when I travel and only then, for work. I can't wait to ditch it for ANYTHING.

30. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

Did I stutter? You have some sort of reading impediment? Yes, I said PLEASURE. If you don't know how to use a BB10 device, don't blame the OS, blame your inability to use a smartphone in general.

4. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

I worked at Verizon at the time the Storm was launched and when customers came back with issues, we were to tell the customer it was their problem to avoid returns. Our store definitely had huge returns and we weren't even a repair store so we only returned phones within the 14 period. Needless to say, I do t work for them anymore.

5. waddup121 unregistered

Nice job blackberry

6. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Perception can make or break a company. As bad as the Storm was, the Torch was equally good. But nobody wanted to come within 50 feet of a touchscreen 'Berry. I used a Torch from its initial release and had zero issues.

8. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

The Torch was an awesome handset!

10. Metropolis75

Posts: 195; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

Makes you wonder how much time people spend on a handset in the store. It took a couple of minutes for me to realize that the storm was not a phone I wanted to buy.

13. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

100% return rate? Those sound like HTC level numbers. Although to be fair, the M9 I purchased to test is the first HTC phone I purchased that I didn't have to exchange at least once. Let's tally the numbers and see how bad HTC is. One X, 8x, M7, M8, and M9. So 4/5 flagship HTC devices had to be returned at least once before I got a satisfactory handset. Just go join Blackberry now HTC and don't come back until you have better quality control. Lol

19. meanestgenius

Posts: 21485; Member since: May 28, 2014

Taters...seriously, quit it with the trolling. It's really lame now.

21. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Just doing my duty as a member of society to warn people about HTC products and their poor quality control.

14. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I was pretty close to buying a storm at one point but I cheaped out and got the pearl instead. The pearl stopped working pretty fast too but the bold and my work bold 9900 were great.

22. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Value things are just stupid a company worth s**t unless there is a buyer when there is no buyer there is no price for the company. Estimating a price for a company is useless when it's not going to be sold.

23. gaming64 unregistered

No, the Blackberry Storm had no chance against the iPhone. That was the time of iInnovation

28. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Feature for feature, the Storm had a ton more versus the iPhone. Goes to show you that anybody who blindly follows a spec sheet usually gets burned.

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