In the world of tech and mobile, companies must keep up with the rapidly evolving demands of consumers in order to stay relevant. However, as with any competition, there are winners and losers.
Whether they've missed a major trend or were just too slow to get started, the companies below have -- through a series of missteps -- pushed their mobile users away.
BlackBerry: "We have a lot of problems"
BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) CEO, John Chen, muttered those words at the Code Conferece back in February 2014, and he's exactly right. Mobile customers have essentially abandoned BlackBerry, and despite its efforts things aren't turning around.
One of the most glaring mobile problems BlackBerry has had is the lack of apps for its devices. That's hurt the company's ability to garner attention from consumers who want a robust app ecosystem like Apple and Samsung have.
For a while, BlackBerry users weren't able to download popular mobile apps from Instagram, Amazon, Netflix, Starbucks, Spotify, Pandora and others. Even missing out on one or two of those apps might be enough for a user to have chosen Apple's iOS or Android over BlackBerry. And years later, some of these apps are still out of reach for BlackBerry users.
To remedy this, when BlackBerry launched its new Passport and Classic last year, both devices came with access to Amazon's Appstore, giving them the ability to run some Android apps. Then in February, BlackBerry rolled out a software update for its Q5, Q10, Z10, Z30, and Z3 models to have the same app access.
Perhaps nothing shows how desperate BlackBerry is to get developers to create apps for its devices then the letter Chen sent to members of the U.S. government back in January. In it he wrote that the government should essentially force developers to create apps for its operating system in the same way it requires wireless broadband providers to provide access to all lawful online content.
"All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer's mobile operating system," (emphasis added) he wrote.
But unfortunately for the company, all of these moves have come a little too late. According to IDC, the company held just 0.4% of the mobile OS marketshare at the end of 2014 and shipped just 5.8 million devices for the entire 12 months.
At this point, it appears mobile consumers have spoken -- and have all but sealed BlackBerry's mobile fate.
Hewlett-Packard: Continually missing mobile
In Q1 2015, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) was the No. 2 vendor for PC shipments worldwide and the top vendor in the U.S. by shipments. But the company's been unsuccessful in transfering its PC success to mobile consumers.
Right now, HP doesn't even make on the list of top tablet vendors worldwide and doesn't sell any smartphones. The company has a few "voice tablets" on the market in India, which are capable of making calls, but that's it.
While it's hard to point to exactly why HP's mobile devices have't taken off, one of the biggest problems the company had early on was deciding which mobile OS to use.
Some readers may remember HP's failed mobile operating system, webOS, which it acquired when it purchased Palm back in 2010. While HP hoped the OS would help boost its tablets and smartphones, it couldn't compete with the likes of iOS and Android.
Take the now discontinued HP TouchPad for example. HP launched it around the same time as Apple's iPad 2 and released it at the same price. But just as with BlackBerry, the TouchPad lacked a robust app ecosystem and users didn't want webOS.
As Gigaom noted last year, "The computer giant also had big plans for webOS, and wanted to make it the center of its mobile strategy. But soon after, HP did a huge turn-about when it released the webOS-based Touchpad in early 2011, only to kill the project a few months later, and sell all remaining inventory at huge discounts." In short, it's hard for consumers to have a lot of faith in the devices and software a company makes, if they axe it shortly after its released.
Since then, HP's tried to boost its tablets (which now run on Android and Windows) and just shipped about 1 million units in the most recent quarter -- the company's best tablet quarter -- but it's still far behind the competition. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), for example, came just ahead of HP, with more than 2 million tablets shipped over the same period.
As PCs and tablets continue on a converging path, it's possible HP could use its PC know-how to help turn its mobile business around -- but for now, the company doesn't have anything to offer that Samsung and other dominant Android tablet makers don't already have.
Microsoft: One step forward, two steps back
OK, I admit it's a bit odd to lump Microsoft together with BlackBerry and HP, but the company has had its fair share of mobile misses, particularly with its smartphone OS.
First, Microsoft's Windows Phone market share continues to dwindle. In the first quarter of 2015, Windows Phone OS held just 4.3% market share in the U.S. And in China -- the world's largest smartphone market -- Windows holds just 1.2% market share. The company's brightest spot in smartphones right now is in Europe, where it makes up 10% of the smartphone OS market share.
And like BlackBerry, Microsoft's smartphone OS has been hurt in part because of its lack of apps. The company has tried to woo developers to create apps just for Windows Phone, but it's been unsuccessful.
To change this, the new Windows 10 for smartphones OS will allow reworked Android and iOS apps to run on Microsoft's handsets. But it won't be available until later this year (long after the lack of app damage has been done), and it's still very unclear at this point if the move will be enough to get users to switch to Windows phones.
But unlike BlackBerry and HP, Microsoft does have some mobile bright spots. IDC predicts the company's share of the tablet market will grow from just 5% in 2014 to 14% by 2019. And if the company can pull off a successful launch of Windows 10 for mobile, it could help push the company's smartphone OS market share higher.
The bottom line
Of course, having low market share doesn't necessarily mean a company can't succeed in mobile. Despite Microsoft's past problems, I remain optimistic that the company can turn around its mobile prospects with its tablets -- and possibly even make some headway in smartphones once Windows 10 launches.
Unfortunately, HP and BlackBerry have made too many mobile missteps at this point to become major contenders, and the chances of them wooing mobile customers back remain bleak.