business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Here are two stories that popped up while I was taking some time off that grabbed my attention because they reflected the degree to which the world continues to change…

•  CNN reports that starting tomorrow, BlackBerry "will stop running support for its classic devices running BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS and earlier. This means all of its older devices not running on Android software will no longer be able to use data, send text messages, access the internet or make calls, even to 911."

The story notes that "while most mobile users have moved on from BlackBerry -- the last version of its operating system launched in 2013 -- the move to discontinue support for its phones represents the end of what was once considered bleeding-edge technology."

Important to remember that at one time, BlackBerry both defined and dominated the mobile device market … and now, it is virtually irrelevant, largely because the folks in charge seemed more interested in managing the brand rather than exerting leadership and taking risks.  BlackBerry is yet another example of a brand that simply managed itself into obsolescence.

•  Yahoo Finance has a piece about how a fellow named Christopher Allman, identified as the chief investment officer for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), said during an interview that he was concerned that "Exxon Mobil Corp. has failed to embrace new, climate-conscious directors and is in danger of going the way of Eastman Kodak Co. and Blockbuster Video if it sits out the transition away from fossil fuels."

Here's the line that I thought was an Eye-Opener:

"If these companies want to survive and not be Eastman Kodak or Blockbuster Video, darn it, they better get their act together and become energy companies, not just oil and gas firms.”

Eastman Kodak.  Blockbuster. And, for all practical purposes, BlackBerry.  Companies that did not understand their roles, nor their potential.  

It seems to me that food retailers need to avoid this mistake - they need to avoid thinking that they are in the "supermarket business," but rather thinking of themselves as being in the business of feeding people.  Which is both different and also filled with far greater promise and potential.