After the recent news that Research In Slow Motion‘s co-CEO’s, Mike Lazy-ridis and Jim Batshit-sillie, had both resigned from their daily roles and handed control to the first person they crossed paths with in the hallway, I was asked this question on Twitter by my buddy Chris Jones in Sydney:
It’s an interesting question, one that I thought about for a bit before replying with this:
Let me explain.
Firstly, the problem with RIM that everyone can see (except for RIM’s management) is that the company is running out of time to try and turn their situation around. They bought QNX to try and better match up with iOS, they rushed out the Blackberry Playbook sans the expected software and services like an email client and Blackberry Messenger and they continued releasing the same kinds of phones over and over whilst waiting for their latest version of Blackberry OS to finish being developed.
That was 2011 and the final result was a loss of 3/4 of their market value, an ugly and embarrassing multi-day outage of email, a loss of smartphone marketshare which in the US alone went from 26% (same as the iPhone) to about 6% – in a growing market – and an announcement that Blackberry 10 wouldn’t be ready until the end of 2012.
In short, the time for dicking around had come and passed. The company doesn’t have another year to experiment and hope for the best with what they have. They need to go nuclear, kill the problems and insert some new tech to hyper-accelerate their re-entry into the market with a revitalised brand.
So besides management, where do you think the biggest point of failure resides in RIM’s walls of organised chaos?
You guess it: in software.
Whilst new CEO Thorston Heins was touting that the company might license its Blackberry 10 software to other phone manufacturers (vaporware alert!), what I believe the company should be doing, in light of the failed Playbook and the extended delay in release, is ditching QNX/Blackberry 10 altogether and using an existing platform currently performing in the market.
And if RIM are serious about taking advantage of their (former) reputation in the enterprise, they should be all over the Windows Phone OS by now.
You see, RIM’s biggest strengths aren’t in the devices themselves, but in Blackberry Enterprise Manager. If the company was serious about being a service vendor, they could transform themselves into an unstoppable force by combining the power of their world-class email delivery system with an ecosystem of 60,000+ apps and an OS that could very well be regarded as a Microsoft Office phone operating system. Between BES, Lync and Skydrive, the Blackberry could be the highest quality device (there was never an issue with the build quality of the Blackberry) that is purposely built for the deskless worker.
Dell wanted to attack this market and bowed out a few months later after their one attempt was a physical mess. Nokia want this market via their Microsoft partnership and will probably get it by default if no-one else bothers. Apple want it but their iOS devices lack the built-in email client capability and the physical keys to entice the bulk of the target market in that demographic and Android phones are too much of a security risk to be considered a platform that couldn’t be knocked off its perch by a well-prepared competitor with relative ease.
And best of all, Microsoft are making that OS hum along on single-core chips at a time when iOS and Android are in a pissing competition over how many cores can be stuffed into an ARM-designed, battery draining CPU. Windows Phones could be built with a very cheap chassis, allowing the Blackberry to compete with the market leaders on price in a very aggressive way that still produces good profit margins.
Finally, service vendors are all the rage right now. Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM have all either ditched hardware businesses (or tried to) in favour of selling enterprise solutions that are a mix of hardware and software, packaged together for in a way that companies pay mega-bucks for. If RIM’s management ever wanted to hit the eject button, they could reclaim a lot of value for their shareholders by building a company around a category of computing that is printing money.
Sounds all too easy, right?
Of course. And apparently, doing things the easy way doesn’t sound all that appealing to Research In Slow Motion.
It’s worth noting that I’m not the only one who thinks that RIM should do this either – I was reading a similar sentiment on Google+ today (yeah, that thing still exists) and there are a few calls for RIM to adopt Android as well.
Either way, staying the course is just lame and it’s unbelievable that the company are being so stubborn and won’t acknowledge that they are on the verge of collapsing. It’s maddening to think that this all could be avoided, too, with some actual Duty of Care taken into consideration.
- RIM’s co-CEO’s continue to suck lemons whilst blowing raspberries in fairyland (oztechnews.com)
- Editorial: How Android Can Save The BlackBerry (Hint: It’s Not With Some Half-Baked App Player) (androidpolice.com)
- RIM shakeup: New CEO Heins says no plans to break up company (calgaryherald.com)
- Analysts: A new BlackBerry OS won’t save RIM (ibnlive.in.com)
- Video Preview – RIM’s new Blackberry devices for 2012 seem boring and dull (ozgadgetnews.com)