Has RIM lost its nerve?

Be Bold, proclaim the latest Research in Motion adverts… and for a moment it seemed that the company had taken its own advice.  Reporting another dire quarter, a clear out of several senior executives, including co-founder Jim Balsillie, RIM appeared also to be turning its attention back to its core Enterprise customers and giving up on its efforts to conquer the consumer market currently owned by Apple’s iPhone and Android devices.

Just hours later, however, RIM stepped back from this – announcing in a blog that it remained committed to the consumer market.  What happened to ‘Be Bold’?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I believed that RIM itself was the biggest threat to the ongoing success of the company. I thought, it had, perhaps seen the light… giving itself a chance at redemption… sadly, it appears intent on pressing the self-destruct button.  Unless RIM does what it implores its customers and prospects to do, the company’s fortunes will, I believe, continue their downward spiral.

Here are a few reason’s why RIM’s continued failure to drop its designs on the consumer market and refocus its efforts on the Enterprise market will eventually be its downfall:

  • Continued confusion over messaging, resulting in a failure to connect with both customers and would-be BlackBerry-ers
  • A lack of targeted apps to appeal to either corporate or consumer customers
  • Compromised handset design – is it a serious productivity tool, a consumer ‘toy’ or a hybrid that fails to appeal to either customer group
  • Disillusionment of employees and a failure to attract the top talent needed to make RIM great again
  • A perception [and reality?] that RIM is continuously playing catch-up to iOS and Android devices
  • Erosion of its existing Enterprise client base, as BYOD strategies become increasingly common
  • Falling sales
  • Falling stock price

Unless it takes its own advice and is Bold… soon, Canada will lose another a tech institution – most likely to Apple.  Sooner, rather than later. C’mon RIM – #BeBold

8 Replies to “Has RIM lost its nerve?”

  1. RIM needs focus on a strategy, the right one, very quick and very razor like, otherwise they are finished.

    They are right that today they cannot focus on everyone, so they should be focusing on the enterprise and developing markets – if they survive 2013 then they can build up to a stronger consumer focus again, but in North America they have lost this game today.

    1. Absolutely agree… time is fast running out for RIM. I give them three months to make significant improvements, or they’ll become a easy pickings for one of its competitors. My money is on Apple! The only reason I can find for Apple not acquiring RIM is the potential damage it could do to their stock price!

      1. I don’t see how Apple would benefit from buying RIM though. Apple has the whole thing already: hardware, software, apps, store and content.

        Google would, but they’ve gone Motorola.

        Microsoft would, but they’ve gone Nokia.

        RIM is good on hardware, QNX will soon get them ok on the hardware side. Store and apps are an issue but RIM is finally starting to get content in.

        My money is on Samsung… But not a buy out… A partnership. CEO did say they are not selling the company anytime soon.

        1. Hi Diego, Yes but the one thing it doesn’t have is a reputation for security or protection of data. RIM would give enable it to address this perception problem.

          A partnership is possible, but I think it’s about 18 months too late. The share price has fallen so far that my take is that the potential for the failure of a strategic alliance to halt RIMs fall is too risky. A sale in the next 3-6 months would at least guard against any further significant loss of share value.

          I agree that they are good on the software, although the UI/UX could use some work IMO, and I love my Bold 9900… although I do wish I could have a scroll wheel 😐

          L

  2. RIM never said they were withdrawing from the consumer market, just that they were going to focus on the enterprise.

    I was listening to the call, not reading tech blogs, so I know this 1st hand.

    It would be, simply put, stupid to leave the consumer market. If anything, they got out of it with a good impression. Stock stopped going down and it is even getting up, albeit slowly.

    1. Hi Diego,

      Thanks for the comment. I guess the mistake sums up one of the major problems that RIM needs to address – a lack of clarity. If it was just one outlet reporting the exit, perhaps it could be put down to a mis-understanding on the journalists part, but it wasn’t.

      This also addresses one of the challenges they face in trying to sell [and market] to both consumers and enterprise customers. The devices have evolved to cater for a more consumer market, despite the core of its business being business users. The marketing has taken on a more consumer feel – which hasn’t communicated the value to either group. The result is that consumers think the phone doesn’t offer them what the iPhone does – correctly in my opinion – and the business community sees a company that is chasing the consumer market and not developing the tools they need on either their handsets or Playbook products.

      If RIM is to stay in the consumer space it needs to seriously rethink its communications at the very least. I’d split consumer and Enterprise and develop two lines of handsets – one that provides what business users need; the other, what consumers want. Their business depends on it!

      You might find this blog post interesting http://digital-possibilities.com/blog/rims-solution-it-should-service-the-20/ it makes some interesting points on how RIM needs to change – and quickly – in order to survive.

      Best wishes,

      Lyndon

      1. RIM better change a good number of things, I’ll give you that. But there were sites posting stuff about the earnings call way before it was over.

        One famous techblog even publish a full article and had to pull it off because, well, it was too early.

        On the changes… I’m not blind to some of the mistakes made. I just don’t see why the media is so harsh on RIM. They have a business that is working with 77 million users. But the CEO himself acknowledges most of those are on obsolete hardware/software.

        BB7 had bad marketing, but the devices are very good. The PlayBook had bad marketing, but it is also a great device (specially after OS2).

        I think they can (and will) get their act together. The earnings call show they are well aware they need to fix stuff up and they are committed to it.

        They just need a break from all the bad media… And a proper CMO/marketing plan.

  3. They’re betting on the largest population group – low-end hardware buyers & users.

    I certainly can’t say that I’m “in the know” about RIM business plans or history, but I have noticed a few interesting things recently:

    #BeBold is a hybrid consumer/business statement that recognizes the shift in culture created by democratized media (anyone with internet access becomes a “channel” to reach an audience) > The superstars of traditional media are no longer Actors, Anchors or Journalists, they are often small business owners on reality TV shows like Dragon’s Den, Cupcake Girls or any of the many home renovation shows. The suggestion is that everyone in business (small or large) can be a superstar if they use BBM to keep in touch with their closest network and answer hundreds, if not thousands of emails daily.

    I think RIM and Apple and everyone else all have to develop hybrid messaging that speaks to the new mashed-up Pro-Sumer target group. Now instead of offering a similar product/service to the same target group (everyone who is “professional”), RIM is focusing on what they do differently: hardware with buttons for email-heavy users and a reliable, trustworthy, recognizable brand name (at least to the people still buying them), at a price that no one else is in a position to be able to offer/compete.

    I also wonder if something like the BlackBerry PlayBook sponsoring/integration of J’Lo & Marc Anthony’s South American reality entertainment TV show Q’VIVA isn’t a play to pick up on the million, and millions and millions of consumers worldwide who just are not in the financial position to consider purchasing iPad or Apple products. PlayBook could sweep the world’s poorer nations (similar to how in third world nations many people who live in huts will have a basic cell phone for texting), and I wonder if this wouldn’t buoy the business a little longer and allow them to pivot into the future a little more securely.

    My first ever blog comment on RIM! : )

    A guest poster wrote this post for Sparkle Agency last year & it is still my most popular post, drawing Google searches to my website every day. http://www.thesparkleagency.com/archives/261

    Debbie

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