RIM was Apple, Apple became RIM. RIM, a disruptive force that redefined the concept of the mobile business device. They understood the need for simple yet reliable business tools that you could carry in your pocket. The keyboard accommodated big fingered people, email worked whenever, wherever — some apps were available, it was cool to carry one, funny commercials appeared on TV.
Unlike Apple, RIM never seems to have invested in becoming a software company. They may have missed the boat, like many hardware companies, on the need to look past hardware/infrastructure success to the invaluable role software plays in winning the long term battles. The early adopter phase is over, value is in the apps. Value has always been in the apps. Apple knows that Itunes is what made the iPod sticky with people — RIM has email, but that’s not enough. It could be enough, but their software development prowess is letting them down.
Do we write off RIM and watch them fall over the rim? Probably, they seem to be bungling so many things the biggest is maintaining a relationship with their customers. I pull out the battery on my Blackberry to reset it from time to time and have to wait 20 minutes for it to reboot — what could it possibly be doing? Why have they not told me they know this is unacceptable in a more competitive market? Even Microsoft understands Windows had to eventually boot quickly — it does!
I’m concerned for the last of our global Canadian technology icons. I’m sure there are other candidates on the horizon to take their place, but it’s hard to imagine RIM recovering their lofty position. I suppose they could find a Steve Jobs like person to take over and resurrect them, but they would need to fall a heck of a lot further before the current team steps aside. Like most teams, they probably don’t know the battle was lost a few years ago and the carnage is only now showing. They do seem out of touch.
What’s most surprising is that they still essentially have the best device for the younger generation but don’t seem to know it — even though they built their success around the business community, txt’ing is the new form of interpersonal skill, the Blackberry line of products is the best. If they dropped off 100 devices at any high school, most kids would trade in their current devices to get one. Why don’t they understand that — their not listening.
To get where they need to — mastering the art of software development is the key. It allows them to create the world they want to live in. It provides the stickiness needed to own the post early adopter market. It arms them with the weapons they need to compete with Apple and Google. It creates the only way to pressure others into exposing their weaknesses. Wake up RIM — before we roll you up.