Though reports of its death may be exaggerated, it is safe to say the BlackBerry era is over. The company just announced that it will stop making its once ubiquitous devices. The biggest smartphone maker in the world just a few years ago is no longer making phones at all.
As a former BlackBerry Bold user, I enjoyed the physical keyboard, the trackball, and all the status that came along with it. That is, until I got my first iPhone.
It’s pretty clear that my experience is not unique. Once considered the world’s fastest growing company, BlackBerry sold 12.5 million fewer devices in the first quarter of this year than it had in 2011 (a 96 percent decline). Apple, on the other hand, just sold its billionth iPhone.
I find BlackBerry’s demise to be mighty disappointing. Although I am no longer a user, a world with BlackBerry phones is better than a world without them. They have become an iconic piece of our recent history, and both corporate and political America have been permanently shaped by them. Although most of us have moved on, I still think we’d all be a little worse off if they were to simply disappear.
So I have come up with a plan: Let’s tax the iPhone to help save BlackBerry.
Nothing huge. 5 cents. That’s it. A nickel from the sale of each iPhone. BlackBerry can take the money and invest it in new technologies, improved services, and advanced capabilities. With the recent sale of the billionth iPhone, I’m sure BlackBerry—or any company for that matter—could use the $50 million to help them compete. Just imagine what they could spend it on: Stickier trackballs and clickier keyboards, no doubt.
But what about Apple? Sure this may seem unfair, but a nickel from every iPhone sale is not going to put Apple out of business. Apple is not even going to pay it anyway. Like most other taxes, it will be passed on to consumers.
Well then, won’t this hurt consumers? They will barely notice a change in price. After all, 5 cents is around .007 percent of the price of the cheapest iPhone 7 ($649). Heck, it is about .005 percent of the price of the most expensive iPhone 7 ($969).
And, to be honest, saving BlackBerry is worth it. But we don’t have to limit it to BlackBerry. We could use the money to help bring back Palm, the maker of one of the first smartphones which hasn’t made a phone in over a half a decade. That is also a shame. The victims of creative destruction deserve some protection from a world hell-bent on one-upping them out of existence.
Sure, this might seem silly, but what I’m proposing isn’t that farfetched. Just ask Uber, Lyft, or the Governor of Massachusetts. The state just passed a law that will tax Uber and Lyft rides to create a fund to help taxis compete. If taxis are worth saving, why isn’t BlackBerry?