There’s been lots of RIM news this week with the AGM on Tuesday and the media post-mortem in the days that followed. One interesting piece I’ve read in recent days was written by a friend of mine, Linda Ockenwell-Jenner, for the Telus Talks Business blog, looking at why it’s not all over for RIM and how Apple demonstrates that anything can – and does – happen. Her piece, ‘Reaching Out For Global Success‘, makes some interesting points. I hope she’s right in her analysis, but here’s why I don’t think that RIM will be able to pull off that incredible turnaround in fortunes that Apple has in recent years:
- The first is leadership. Apple had Steve Jobs. RIM has Thorsten Heins. I’m not saying that Mr. Heins isn’t a competent leader – I have nothing concrete to base my assessment of him on – but he’s not Steve Jobs. Competence is not going to be enough to save RIM. Steve Jobs has been many things over the last decade – think of a superlative and it has probably been used to describe him – but one of the things that made him special was his vision. RIM needs a vision right now and, based on what I’ve seen and read, Mr. Heins doesn’t have it.
- The next reason why I think RIM won’t do an Apple-style turnaround is market conditions. A lot has changed since Apple launched the first iPhone. The iPhone, as Apple’s advertising has made sure everybody knows, ‘changed everything’. When the first iPhone launched, its competitors were handsets like the Samsung Ultra Smart F700 [remember that one?!], the Motorola Razr V3i [you’d forgotten about that one, hadn’t you?] and there were rumours that Microsoft was working on an iPhone killer – the Zune cell phone! Today there are hundreds of handsets that all offer the same, or similar, capabilities. RIM’s BB10 will be a significant evolution, but it isn’t going to change anything in the marketplace. Unless things at RIM improve quickly, it will find it increasingly difficult to retain or attract the talent required to turn things around.
- A third reason that RIM won’t do ‘an Apple’ is cultural. Apple had a culture that believed it could change the world… RIM doesn’t. It also isn’t set up to compete effectively in the current cellphone market. The company appears slow to respond, unable to get product to market quickly enough and unsure about who its target market is. It also appears unable to identify its USP and market to them effectively.
I hope I’m wrong. I REALLY hope I’m wrong… but I fear that I won’t be. What do you think it’ll take for RIM to pull of a turnaround of Apple-esque proportions?