There’s no easy way out for RIM

Without a niche in the marketplace, RIM may be on its last legs

Trendsetter/Flickr

Now is the time for all the armchair CEOs to tell Thorsten Heins how to do his job.

RIM must focus on software and kiss developers’ asses. RIM must focus on hardware and create a SuperPhone. RIM must make a better tablet. RIM must ditch tablets entirely. RIM must stop trying to look cool and focus on business clients. RIM must get cool and target hip young clients. Opinions are like smartphones–every pundit has one.

So what’s mine?

Given that I’ve covered RIM’s weak-kneed responses to snooping and censoring abroad, my knee-jerk asnwer is to suggest that their best bet is to really and truly protect their customers’ data (all customers, not just “enterprise” clients). They should earn again Blackberry’s fading rep as the most security-minded mobile device out there and build a niche as the safest phone you can buy. Would that be enough to reverse their downward spiral? I really don’t know.

Should RIM focus on marketing, as the new chief executive believes? Their messaging could use some work, sure–but it would help if they had some killer products to market, which they don’t.

The truth is that RIM’s problems are the industry’s. There is no big innovation in the works with smartphones. They’ll get faster, they’ll get a bit smaller, and after that it’s all just endless variations on a theme. There are obscene gobs of money yet to be made by selling smartphones, but competing with Apple to create the slickest, priciest handset out there is a sucker’s game. The real money will be made by dozens of also-ran manufacturers out there already flooding Second- and soon Third-World markets with cheap-o smartphones. And these all run Android.

RIM can’t go upmarket or down. I suspect it’ll just go away.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown




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There’s no easy way out for RIM

  1. Hopefully it goes away as soon as possible, so lazy IT departments no longer have an easy excuse for shunning Android and iOS devices.

  2. The only way for RIM to go is back. Back to the network, redefine it, redesign it, recreate it. Smartphones are hitting a wall specifically because there are no big advances in network speed, bandwidth and availability.

    10mb/s for every household… remember?

  3. They should either go android software or offer bbm subscriptions on android as a yearly fee of like 20 bucks as to get money from old blackberry clients. That would at least make all their commercials relevant about the only reason to have one is bbm.

  4. I think they should focus on niches such as catering to business clients instead of focusing on what the,iPhone is doing because their not even competition.

  5. 1. My shop still has BBs because IT trusts their security the most.  RIM should wrap its arms around that.

    2. Business chic.  People in my shop love the new Bold model.  It has an easy to read screen AND is thin AND has a keypad.  It is not an iPhone and does not try to be.  RIM should wrap its arms around that.  Stick with keypads and things that make business faster and easier.  This is moving upmarket.  I used to pull out my company BB when I found myself unexpectedly under-dressed in hotel lobbies, airport lounges, conferences, etc. and use it as a sort of totem to ward away the suspicious eyes of bellhops and security guards. That doesn’t work now that everyone and their dog has a smartphone. But RIM should chase that same business chic. Business can be cool in the same way a tailored suit is cool, sleek shoes are cool, and a 4-dr BMW sedan is cool.

    3. Find ways to leverage the fact that people with ultrabooks and tablets may not mind not having an iphone or iphone clone.
    4. Do things that avoid forcing the consumer into a stark tradeoff situation. 
    - Give me a large screen option.  It doesn’t need to be light years better than the iphone or Samsung.  But it should be in the same league.
    - Nothing, nothing, nothing slow.  Not the OS, not the web, not the apps. 
    - If I want to use Android apps, get the OS to do so and keep it doing so – the sooner the better.
    - Keep up with tech specs: camera(s), memory, bluetooth, etc. 

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