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Why RIM will die... and slowly...

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith
3 min read
Why RIM will die... and slowly...

RIM is headed down the toilet. I don't mean this in a good way at all. The situation they face is very difficult to recover from. After a series of mediocre and outright failed product launches, their last hope is to try and launch one more BlackBerry to rule them all. Even this strategy, at best, is a long shot. Their new CEO, Thorstein Heins, doesn't see this logic. He wants to focus on the enterprise side of the business. I can tell you right now that if you don't have a booming consumer business, there's no way you can push the enterprise side of anything.

It's pretty clear the iPhone is responsible for the vast majority of this. Back in 2008, just after the iPhone was released, RIM was booming. Its stock was valued at $150/share. Now it's valued at $12/share, less than 10% of the value at its height. Adding insult to injury, their active subscriber numbers are way down. So what happened? How did Apple's iPhone and all of the other Android clones manage to kill the BlackBerry?

If you ask me, it all comes to one thing: user experience. When RIM released the first Blackberry, there weren't many other devices like it on the market. The Smartphone, as we know it, simply did not exist. Businesspeople needed some kind of portable device to manage their email, and the Blackberry was successful because it did this one thing very well. In fact, it's still successful in small niches like Washington D.C. because of the company's emphasis on security.

But outside of the government and other specialised niches, the walls started to cave in. People began to expect more out of their devices, and the iPhone delivered with the first web browsing experience worth talking about. RIM attempted to build a competitor with the Blackberry Storm 1, but its touchscreen interface had major usability issues. Worst of all, it didn't have wifi access. The enterprise market scoffed at this and quickly switched devices.

Now that RIM has to compete with the iPhone (and similar okayish Android devices), the company has completely lost its focus. In an age of walled gardens and zen-like focus, RIM really doesn't know what it wants to be. Just have a look at the list of different developer environments they support.

  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Air
  • HMTL5/CSS
  • Java
  • Android (using Java)
  • C/C++

Apple has decided not to support many of these, and for this reason they have succeeded. I can't see how any anyone in the developer community would want to work on such a complicated platform. Lose the developers, and you can no longer sell the apps that are all the rage.

RIM, wanting to please everyone, has produced one patchy product after the next. Their tablet strategy was yet another blunder on top of a litany of disasters. The Blackberry Playbook doesn't even do email right of the box. You need to pair it with another Blackberry device in order to have the privilege. Who in their right mind thinks this is a good tablet strategy? Nah, let's just forget about making a standalone product. Let's do a tablet that's smartphone companion.

s worth. RIM will die out slowly as it tries to find its place in enterprise applications. The company made its mark back in the day when a P.D.A. was just a P.D.A., and it had nothing to do with the things you and your girlfriend did at the bar last night. Once companies managed to cram everything into a pocket sized device like the iPhone, it was curtains for the Blackberry. R.I.P. R.I.M. You lost focus in a market you could have dominated.

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