Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Twister: Blackberry'd



Anybody who was somebody back in the early 2000s had a BlackBerry phone that was designed by the company formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM).  The BlackBerry got so big that the company changed its name from RIM to BlackBerry...but it wasn't enough to stop the onslaught from Apple (iPhone) and Google (Android).  Yesterday, RIM BlackBerry announced they were ending production of their legendary keyboard equipped smartphone lineup to focus on software, a wise choice considering that the only BlackBerry purchases in the past 2 years were from people who forgot to lock their iPhone before handing it to a toddler.  Regardless, the BlackBerry died because it refused to evolve in any meaningful way, and what was great in 1999 was no longer so impressive in 2013.  For today's Thursday Twister, I want you to tell me what car pulled a BlackBerry.


To me, no car epitomizes the paradigm of launch-and-forget engineering like the Alfa Romeo Spider (like this 1992 Alfa Romeo Spider bidding for $5,100 here on eBay). Production started in 1966 and continued with the same basic recipe through 1994.  AlfaBerry! 

What do you think is a better car for the BlackBerry Award? Comments below.


16 comments:

  1. Almost all of the cars that were carried into the late '70s (think any 1977 British car)but the one that really sticks out because of its long run is VW Beetle in its original form... the US finally gave up after they fuel injected it and the Deutschmark escalated its price in US$ into a unbelievably high territory (although it made selling their new FWD cars easier because they were significantly less expensive). VW managed to remove all of the Beetle's charming plebeian personality while keeping the external shape and basic layout the same. They continued to sell the convertible version for a few more years because (unbelievable as it may seen now) there were people still willing to buy them even when they were only available in white.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure that simple "failure to evolve" should be the criteria. The Beetle and the Citroen 2CV (for example) survived because the original designs were right, and they continued to answer a question that eventually became a niche. They remained viable until the cost of meeting regulations intersected with the profitability of the niche.

      However, I agree strongly with your observation about the British in the 1970s (although the die was cast in the late 1960s). They utterly ignored evolution until the inevitable extinction event occurred. I always imagine British Union leaders like a herd of Brontosaurus munching on ferns as the asteroid streaks overhead.

      Delete
    2. Best metaphor of the day, Bob. Spot-on, as usual.

      Delete
  2. I think Pontiac was dead no matter what but I believe their design department was at least a decade behind (except the Asstec)
    The GTO should have looked so much better, the Firebird had so many exterior bits, and the G8 was a monster but looked like a rental car.
    I hope I haven't offended anyone that owns these cars, I am a fan of them just not their styling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was just pondering pontiac's demise as a clean white Grand Prix coupe (!) passed me on the road yesterday... For and entire generation it just seemed like Ponitac's recipe for justifying its existence could be summed up thusly: take mediocre, anonymous GM blandware, add plastic cladding, call the result "excitement!" and hope no one notices/cares until they sign in the finance guy's office. Even after that era came to pass they just seemed disinterested in actually developing the "performance brand" they were alleged to be. The GTO was such a bitter styling disappointment that the person responsible for bequeathing it with that legendary moniker deserves to be visited nightly by John Z's apparition and heckled mercilessly. To the point of "letting it go", Pontiac just defines that complacency for American automobile companies to me.

      Delete
  3. I think you need to look at communist cars. Without a market incentive to evolve, there is no reason to. Customers get what they get, there is no looking elsewhere...

    I disagree that the Alfa Spider failed to evolve. It evolved enough. It went from the S1 with basically no crash protection and no pollution controls, to the S2 which got ugly crash bumpers, a padded dash, fuel injection & cats (US), to the S3 with more crash protection and electronic FI, to the S4 with airbags, ABS, and more computers. I think the basic recipe was sound - as Mazda proved in 1989 with the Miata, and continues to prove with the millionth Miata. I think it was the perception of unreliability, i.e. my friend's uncle's cousin twice removed that owned a fiat in 1972 and it was unreliable as well as the cost of the Spider to manufacture. It was designed by Alfa back when they were wards of the State and Alfa was more a jobs program than a going manufacturing concern that didn't have to worry too much about costs. When FIAT was gifted Alfa, manufacturing costs did matter to the Agnelli family, and I assume the Spider was relatively expensive to manufacture vs. its Tipo-based FWD replacement.

    My .02 Lira (worth nothing 16 years after the Euro conversion).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just saw Zach's comment in the M6 post. I rest my case regarding commie cars...

      Delete
  4. Polish-made vehicle... like an alligator; didn't evolve at all over its existence from the 1957 to 1998. It, alas, didn't sell anywhere other than in Poland

    Polish Zuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny that Zuk is Polish for "Beetle". Seriously.

      Delete
  5. H2 Hummer and their dealerships went down like the Titanic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But wasn't that the pound of flesh the government extracted from GM for the bailout that you and I subsidized?

      Delete
  6. GM Saab, sadly - took quirky but endearing innovation and used it to mercilessly chase down previous-gen mediocre

    ReplyDelete
  7. Studebaker. Awesome bulletnose, Loewy coupe and Avanti, but they couldn't sell enough cars to pay for unibody redesign and other updates in their final years. (Good news is the mechanicals are interchangeable across many years and models. Go buy one!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. "...the only BlackBerry purchases in the past 2 years were from people who forgot to lock their iPhone before handing it to a toddler."
    Don't forget about the dozens Hillary bought...

    ReplyDelete

Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.