Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RIM, What Were You Thinking?

Some of you may remember when RIM introduced the original blackberry. It had a small black and white screen, a thumb wheel control and it only worked on the RIM proprietary radio network. Their devices have come a long way since then, reaching their peak in popularity towards the end of 2010.

The iPhone and Android OS have steadily eroded RIM's lead in the smart phone arena. RIM has been slow to respond and has recently fallen to fourth place. Even the once mighty Symbian has succumbed to power of Android.

RIM is making a valiant effort to fight its way back with the introduction of the new Blackberry 7 OS on a number of new devices. While I doubt they will ever be on top again, I wouldn't write them off so quick. RIM still has a few redeeming features and a huge following of loyal and dedicated customers. The Corporate and Government sectors embrace the push technology, low data consumption rates and the unequaled level of security while the consumer world continues to be enamored with Blackberry messenger (BBM) and the best battery life of any smart phone.

RIM can do more to improve their product. Expand the suite of applications and development tools so they perform better. Enhance the functionality and speed of the browser, the most frequently used applications. Raid and repackage applications found in the more popular Android and iTunes markets.

Following the wildly successful introduction of the iPad, RIM tried to get into the tablet game introducing their 7 inch device called the Playbook. But the iPad set the standard and it was too little, too late. The Playbook design had limited innovation for the consumer and instead relied more on familiarity and security for their corporate customers. The initial product had way too much reliance on the Blackberry, requiring you to be connected via Bluetooth to run mail, calendar and communicate via the internet.

RIM was going to partner with Sprint to introduce a WiMax version but in light of disappointing sales, Sprint have backed out of the deal. RIM still plan to develop an LTE version which they hope Verizon or AT&T will market. In my view, this is not likely to happen. RIM has since added WiFi capability but it is not yet fully sorted out.

The Playbook was also priced out of the market. No matter how good the quality and performance, you cannot charge the same price for a Toyota as a Mercedes. They have managed to garner less than 5% of the worldwide tablet market.

This is a failed experiment and RIM should simply cut its losses and stick to what it does best. Follow HP's lead and have a $99 fire sale to unload all of the remaining inventory. With any luck someone might publish a hack to allow the Playbook to run Android.

If that happens, Playbooks will fly off the shelves like Touchpads.

Captain Joe

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