If you’ve not read it yet the article in Canadian Business’s July edition is a must read for every Canadian technology and business fan. Titled, ‘It Didn’t Have To Come To This‘ it charts what Editor James Cowan believes are the key factors in the demise of the once mighty Canadian technology giant, Research In Motion. All of the points that Cowan makes are spot on – he likens RIM to a Shakespearean character with a fatal flaw – citing arrogance as the primary reason for the company’s fall from grace. I’d also add denial to RIM’s list of flaws for good measure.
But, while Cowan’s article argues that RIM didn’t have to find itself in the position that it does today I believe it was always going to come to this. From the moment that the company set out on a strategy of emulating the iPhone, rather than focusing on developing its own product to best serve the needs of its customers it was doomed to a slow and painful death. I also believe that in order for RIM to have any chance of evolving it HAS to come to this.
If RIM can survive the impending dutch auction of its assets and IP there is a chance that it could live to fight another day. But, it will need to reinvent itself – and that means new leadership, new ideas, new technology and a new brand. The BlackBerry name has taken such a beating that any attempt to revive it will be doomed from day one – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The BlackBerry brand is damaged… tainted… and RIM must rebrand if it is to survive.
Another of RIM’s fatal flaws has been to misread the cultural change taking place in the mobile industry – and any company emerging from RIM’s ashes must understand that product or operating system life-cycles are now measured in weeks and months, not years or decades. It’s a lesson that is not exclusive to RIM. I wrote recently about why I believe that Apple runs the risk of losing its competitive edge due to a stolid hardware and software release schedule.