Why Apple will acquire BlackBerry

After another dire quarter, a clear out of top executives and an acceptance that partnership, licensing or sale were all possible paths for RIM make it almost inevitable – in my opinion – that RIM will be acquired.  In a report I heard new CEO Thorsten Heins seemed to suggest that, while a sale was not an option at the moment, it may be in the future.

I’ve been saying it for a while that I  believe we’ll see Apple acquiring the IP and assets of the company.  After today’s earnings announcement, the corporate reshuffle and the likely impact on the company’s share price, it’ll probably happen sooner than we think too.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  • RIM can’t survive many more quarters like this one.  It has to find a buyer sooner rather than later
  • Apple has huge cash reserves that mean it could outbid any of its competitors should RIM become the subject of a bidding war
  • Apple has the most to gain from adding secure email to its armoury.  It would add the most sought after business tool to its portfolio and stop the likes of Microsoft/Nokia, Samsung, LG etc. acquiring it for their handsets
  • Apple could become the darling of the Enterprise with BES running on iOS devices.  Corporate BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] strategies have grown in organizations because they reduce capital expense: basically, iPhones and iPads have been tolerated by corporate IT because users already own them. With BES on iOS devices Enterprise could build a device strategy around a single platform [iOS], rather than Windows, Android and iOS.
  • Corporate device strategies around a single platform would offer significant capital and operational economies of scale. The result of this would be large volumes of iPhones and iPads by corporate IT department
  • BES + iCloud would bring the benefits of secure email to consumers and smaller organizations.  While not a huge money-maker, it would give Apple something to beat its opponents with.

Samsung and Microsoft/Nokia have also been suggested as possible bidders for RIM… who else could you see throwing their hat into the ring?

Update:

RIMs hard choices: Five ways to rescue Canada’s tech icon‘ is an excellent article by Iain Marlow and Omar Elakkad for The Globe and Mail.  While I still believe that a sale is the most likely outcome, I hope that I’m wrong and that via a combination of 5 and 4 the company can find success.  Part of returning RIM to its former glory will require the development and execution of a complex communications strategy that is difficult to do successfully at the best of times… that said, with the vision and the will [both of which I believe the company has in abundance] to succeed, anything is possible.

Update – July 12 2012

I came across this great Infographic created by Firmex that looks at who might acquire RIM. I’ve posted it here

Update – Feb 21 2013

With both companies floundering – RIM’s stock is volatile and, if reports of lacklustre sales of the Z10 and carrier issues in the US are accurate, BlackBerry10 will have failed to turn the companies fortunes around.  Apple needs a clear differentiator to fight off the Android assault and with a new Samsung Galaxy S4 being slated to launch in March, adding secure email would give it a clear advantage at companies implementing BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] strategies AND give it a strong play in regulated industries like finance and government.  An Apple acquisition of BlackBerry’s mobile business, leaving the Waterloo company clear to focus on developing QNX, appears to make more sense than ever.

Time to Spring Clean your Comms Plan?

We’re fast approaching the end of the first quarter of the year.  Is your communications strategy delivering the results you expected?

One of the most common oversights in any PR, marketing or social media programme is taking time out to review what’s worked well, and what hasn’t.  Until you understand which elements are delivering the greatest return and which ones didn’t work in the way that was intended, it’s almost impossible to refine the strategy.  Sometimes, being on the front line can also make it difficult to come up with new ideas.

If you think your communications plan would benefit from a fresh pair of eyes, we’re offering a special rate on our Communications Spring Clean.  For just $999 [usually $1200] we’ll review your PR, marketing and social media plans, offer advice on how they can be fine-tuned to make them work even better, and offer a couple of new ideas on how you can ensure that marketing communications helps your business meet its corporate objectives for the year.

To find out more about what our Communications Spring Clean could do for your business contactlyndon@thinkdifferently.ca or call +1 647.773.2677

A Template for Writing a Better News Release

I came across this article from Ragan’s PR daily a couple of weeks ago, and have been meaning to share it ever since.  A few days after I was asked by a marketing colleague what she should include in a press area of a website for a new client, and how to create interesting content for it.  One of the things I impressed on her was the importance of writing a good press release.

So, rather than calling this post ‘101 ways to write a bad press release’, which was my initial title for it, I’m going to focus on providing a template for writing better news releases.

  • Keep it short: if you can keep it to a single page, journalists will thank you for it –  they will likely only read the first couple of sentences and the quotes anyway. They get tens, and in some cases, hundreds, of releases every day, so three page releases are a waste of time and effort.
  • Make it interesting/relevant: that means spending time on the headline and the lead line of the release. If it looks interesting and relevant you’ll increase the chances of it being read.
  • Give the journalists a story – quickly: it’s the whole purpose of the document and if you don’t do it in the first couple of sentences the release will likely fail to do its job.
  • Avoid a lead line that reads, ‘Company X, a leader in the…’: That’s not a story and a journalist is not interested in what you claim to be. If your company is a leader in what it does, they’ll know.
  • Keep it simple: ask yourself, ‘would my mother understand?’ If not, it’s probably too complicated [there are exceptions to this]. Even journalists that specialize in one particular area can’t be experts in every area of their beat, so make it easy for them to understand.
  • Make the quote quotable:  say something interesting, don’t just talk about how pleased you are about a deal, or how good you think your new product is. Journalists assume you think that… say something that will make them and their readers think.
  • Include a mobile number or twitter handle that will get them in touch with somebody from your company quickly.  Journalists work to extremely tight deadlines and the quicker they can contact you the more likely they are to do so.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas. If you’ve got any other tools that work for you then please feel free to add them in the comments. I’ll be writing about how to optimize releases for online publication and SEO at some point soon.

Big Ideas. Worth Spreading?

It’s been quite a week.  I was lucky enough to be a volunteer at this year’s TEDxWaterloo – my first TED event. It definitely won’t be my last.  I’ve watched, and been inspired by, many a #tedtalk online over the last few years but, as I found out earlier in the week, there really is nothing quite like experiencing one for yourself.

For those of you who don’t know about TED, it’s a small not-for-profit organization with the mission statement, ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.  It does this via an annual TED Global Conference, and a series of TEDx [the x stands for independently organized] events, at which people talk about ideas that inspire them.  It has been described as ‘the ultimate brain spa’ and ‘a journey into the future’.  The Waterloo event was both!

Attendees at this week’s Waterloo event heard about launching cameras – and lego men – into space for just $400, the wider role of community art projects and they had particle physics explained to them – via the media of magic and dance [Lindy Hop in case you are wondering!].

Too often the first things we consider when planning a communications programme are the restrictions – not what we’re trying to achieve. There’s underestimated value in having big ideas – and of considering every possible way of achieving them.  There will always be constraining factors – usually time, budget or resources – but TEDxWaterloo has reinforced that if there is a vision, and an openness to exploration and creativity, then incredible things can be achieved.

Perhaps it’s time we all dreamed a little bigger and encouraged our colleagues to do the same?

Keep it simple!

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs‘… again!  This will make those who know me well smile.  Why? Because over the years his name has cropped up in conversations about press releases, articles, marketing and messaging… product positioning, brand strategy… you get the picture.

How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience

If you’re in the PR or marketing industry – or even in sales – I’d thoroughly recommend that you read it.  Then read it again, and again, and again.  When Steve passed away last year just about every accolade was used to describe him: a once in a lifetime thinker, a technology visionary, a master of innovation. an expert communicator. The one that was often overlooked was best product marketer/manager. That’s not to suggest he wasn’t all of the other things, but his product marketing and management skills were, I believe, the key to Apple’s renaissance.

PRs and marketeers, product managers and sales guys are – particularly in the technology space that has been the place I call home for the last 12 years – often guilty of over-complication.  We get caught up in the minutia of a product rather than focusing on what makes it different or interesting to an audience, which makes press releases long and overly complex. [I know I’ve been guilty of a never-ending sentence or two at times!]

The ‘Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs’ isn’t so much about the delivery of a presentation –  it’s about everything that goes into the creation of an effective presentation. It’s a lesson in how to communicate effectively.  It’s about stripping away the unnecessary information and ensuring that your audience takes away from a presentation, or press release, or piece of marketing collateral, the two or three things that you want them to.  The two or three things that will increase the chances of a journalist wanting to write about your company or of a prospect becoming a customer.

To use a ‘Steve-ism’, it’s an insanely great book and I’m going to make it a welcome gift for all of my clients.

Rethink what’s possible…

How much do you think it would cost to launch a camera into near space and take photographs of the earth? If I told you that you could do it for $400 you’d think I was crazy, right?

I had the privilege to be part of TEDxWaterloo yesterday and one of the most inspiring talks was by Toronto student Matthew Ho who told about how he and a friend had sent cameras and a Lego figure into near space and taken photographs of the earth’s atmosphere – using only the contents of a small plastic crate totalling just $400.  ‘Putting a camera into space is really not that difficult’, the audience was told… and that got me thinking.  Far too many good ideas get mothballed because it appears too crazy or difficult.

I founded THINK DIFFERENT[LY] with the mission to encourage companies to think beyond the traditional boundaries of marketing communications. We look at how we can complement the traditional disciplines with new ideas and approaches and challenge the traditional assumptions of effective marketing, public relations and marketing – because we believe that when you do amazing things can happen… like launching a camera into near space for $400.

You can watch a video of Matthew’s achievements below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwLmGR6bPA]

Google has the Holy Grail of social apps and is waiting for users to realize.

I, like many others, have been trying to figure out the point of Google + over the last few months.  In a world where Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare have all established their raison d’être, the majority of Google + users are still trying work out what purpose it serves.  The answer could, arguably, be the one thing that all social networks have been dreaming of… the holy grail called ‘engagement’.

At this point, I suspect a few of you – actually, most of you – will be frowning!  Your Google + streams are far less active than any of your other social networks – it’s a place many people go only when they remember.  Most will be visiting to see whether it’s more active than the last time they visited.  Right now, the answer is probably not.

But, there’s one application that I’m starting to use more and more… and I think it’ll become the most critical social application for both consumers and business users within the next few years – Google Hangouts.  Not tried a Hangout yet?  You should – and I suspect it’ll become an integral part of your personal and business lives in the next few years… here’s why:

  • A statistic I read this morning claims that 51% of traffic on the internet is non-human.  What better way to know that the person you’re talking with is real than via video?
  • The power of the real-time web has been vaunted with the growth of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare… it won’t get more real-time than Google Hangouts!
  • You don’t need to be mutual friends, or followers, or use a specific OS or device to hang out.  If you seen an interesting hangout you can join it.  They can also be promoted via links on other social networks to find people that are outside of your circles.  Want true engagement… give me real-time face-to-face chat.
  • Want to know who’s credible and who’s not on any given topic? With video you’ll get to see and hear the person in order to explore the depth of their knowledge – rather than relying on third-party pseudo-scientific metrics.
  • Need to take a quick poll of interested and knowledgeable third-parties on a given subject?  Google Hangouts gives you the facility to do it quickly and easily and gather qualitative, as well as quantitative, data.
  • How about a webcast or conference, or just chat with friends – on demand? Why not hang out?!

So, while some have questioned the longevity of Google + – I, myself, have wondered whether it may go the way of Wave [you’d forgotten about that, hadn’t you?!] – it may well have the killer social app. and is just waiting for users to catch up!

How will Apple spend its billions

It’s a question that everybody in the tech world has been asking for many years… what will Apple do with its insanely large amount of cash in the bank.  Tomorrow at 6am PT|9am ET we’ll get some answers from CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

We thought we’d enter into the fun with a few of our own predictions, before the announcement is made, so here goes:

  • Launch an X-Prize-like competition designed to inspire the next generation of technology entrepreneurs.
  • Establish a Steve Jobs Centre of Excellence, to be built as part of the new Apple campus, designed to develop the U.S.’ next generation of technology inventors
  • Apple announce that it will acquire Canadian Enterprise email experts Research in Motion for $1 billion
  • Create its own mobile carrier – called Apple Telephone and Telegraph [AT&T for short!!]
  • Apple will launch an airline – called iFly – intended to revolutionize the air travel industry
  • Launch iHotels – perhaps located at airports around the world.  They could be known as AirPort Hotels, if you like!  They would come with a tech-enabled shuttle service – perhaps known as the AirPort Express.
  • Buy an island and declare its independence create its own state… Apple iLand anybody?
  • Purchase RIM and run it as an Enterprise division of the company

Tim Cook might even do something even more insanely awesome – for shareholders, at least – and pay a dividend to its common stock holders.  What ever the plans are, we’ll know more at 6am PT [9am ET] tomorrow.

Move over iPhone… BlackBerry is the biggest threat to $BBRY!

I’ve been watching RIM closely for a number of years… hoping that they’d turn things around.  I’m a self-confessed Mac fanboy, but I own a Blackberry – my third – and I recently chose to replace my old Bold for a new 9900 model.  Why?  Because it does what I need it to do for business [mobile email, social networking, browsing].  I don’t want to carry two phones… have two numbers… so my personal preference takes a back seat.  While many business users may want to use their personal ‘idevices’ for business purposes, their employers may not.

There’s a saying in marketing… ‘own your niche’.  Do what you do well and market it to your target audience – in RIMs case, that’s Enterprise email.  Refocusing on its strengths could be the saviour of RIM.  Also, while it fails to own it’s niche [the not insubstantial mobile Enterprise email market],  choosing instead to chase the consumer mass-market, RIM risks somebody else – Google, Microsoft/Nokia or Apple, for example – developing a competitive email offering and beating them at their own game.

When RIM replaced its joint CEOs in January, I hoped that this would signal a change in strategy and, in turn, the fortunes of the company.  I’ve long said that it needs to give up trying to be a contender to the iPhone’s [or the iPad’s, for that matter] crown in the handset and tablet markets, and return to its roots   Why?  Because, in my opinion, it is never going to compete with Apple’s device and, I believe, continuing to lose this battle can only do the company’s reputation and financial performance significant damage.

RIM implores consumers to #BeBold in it’s marketing.  Perhaps it needs to take it’s own advice…