Requiem for RIM

Requiem for RIM

Summary: The news of layoffs at Research in Motion (RIM) surprised no one following the maker of the legendary BlackBerry. RIM is not dead yet, but unless it can lay out a concise plan to turn things around it is just a matter of time.

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The news of layoffs at Research in Motion (RIM) surprised no one following the maker of the legendary BlackBerry. The company has faced dropping market share for some time and has not instilled confidence in anybody that it knows how to curtail the drop in business. The layoffs of 2,000 employees is a bandaid to stop the bleeding, but the company needs far greater care than that alone. RIM is not dead yet, but unless it can lay out a concise plan to turn things around it is just a matter of time.

There are still millions of BlackBerry phones in customer hands, but the problem facing RIM is they are not competitive with popular handsets. The iPhone and Android phone army has left the BlackBerry so far behind that a complete remake is needed to give RIM a chance. The company understands that and bought QNX to provide the OS  for both the new line of tablets and future smartphones. RIM talked up the advantages that the QNX platform bring to the market, but failed to deliver on the first product, the PlayBook.

Sales of the PlayBook haven't been ground-shaking, and RIM can only blame itself for that. Launching its first tablet into a competitive market, lacking core functionality such as email was suicidal. The BlackBerry has always been famous for its stellar handling of messaging, email included, but the ability is not even there on the PlayBook. Months later, RIM has yet to provide that feature on the tablet.

The delay in getting email onto the PlayBook hasn't been detailed by RIM, but those in the know say the BlackBerry infrastructure can't handle owners with multiple devices. If true, this shows how far RIM is behind the competition which can do simple things like email without problem. The company is dealing not only with a brand new platform and a brand new device, it is trying to make its aging backend handle it all. This is the real problem facing RIM because this is not an easy fix.

The PlayBook hasn't saved RIM as they indicated it might, and new smartphones based on the QNX platform are quite a ways off. Even when finally released, there have been no clear indicators that they will not only be competitive in the crowded smartphone segment but even surpass current offerings. It is too late for RIM to merely compete, they are facing the need to one-up the competition in a key way to get customer entrenched in these other platforms to switch.

It may be too early to give a requiem for RIM, but that time is rapidly approaching. What the company must do is lay out a concise, detailed plan to instill confidence in the market. Lately it seems to be floundering, so it's not clear if the company can even do this.

Image credit: Flickr user gloom

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Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility, Security

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29 comments
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  • simple solution for RIM

    embrace android and watch the profits soaring!
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @Linux Geek

      HA! Did you miss the patent lawsuits Android makers are facing? Android OS a mess and only getting worse.
      MobileAdmin
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @MobileAdmin
        those are just a nuisance that will die down once the Axis of evil software(Oracle, Apple &M$) will start losing in court.
        Linux Geek
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @Linux Geek when did apple get piled into that axis of evil? oh well, i guess the name linux geek explains that one... anything that's not free is evil.
      sucitivel
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @sucitivel this is improper discussion should be based on tech logic only.
        augustus_rome
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @sucitivel <br>you must have been living under a rock!<br>Have you heard of Apple's lawsuits against Samsung's or HTC's Android?<br>Have you heard of Job$ nickel and dimeing customers?
        Linux Geek
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @Linux Geek Um, why?

      How,as the player who has differentiated in the past based on email security and BES integration, do they differentiate?

      Furthermore, given that their new QNX OS will run Dalvik (Android) applications, again... I ask... why?
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @rbethell
        Where is source code?
        Where is the Android or Linux brand displayed?
        Linux Geek
  • RIM email is not the same ...

    I hate how people gloss over the fact email on Blackberry is fully encrypted to AES standard to and from the NOC. No one else is doing that - their email is easily hacked. I don't see countries threatening to disallow iPhone / Android devices.

    RIM's thing is security. Always has been, always will be. Many obviously don't care how their email is transfered but many people do. It would've been nice if the Playbook launched with a POP/IMAP client but it would further lessen RIM's strength - security.

    FIPS just certified QNX email scheme and RIM will have the lone tablet that provides a secure means to do email.
    MobileAdmin
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @MobileAdmin do not worry they know what they are doing. i am a b.b. user, i do not need another e mail client on another device. bridge is a perfect solution for me and by now a million more playbook/b.b. handset users.
      wait a while and get 3g version with mail and android apps.
      augustus_rome
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @MobileAdmin I agree email is not the issue. The problem is RIM's business model is badly broken. RIM rose to their previous glory by creating a safe platform for businesses to expose sensitive business data on mobile devices that could be burned to the ground with the flip of a switch. It wasn't the encryption that sold the platform: it was that ability to burn the mis-placed/stolen device.

      What users liked was BBM which was correctly perceived as flat rate short messages. You could type and type and type and wonder "Why do I need email? Oh yeah, that's for business... this is for *my* life." So you carried a Blackberry for work and BBM's flat rate nature meant your boss didn't care you were able to conduct your life via the phone as well (so long as you didn't burn too many minutes talking instead of BBMing). The trick of course was to BBM your life, the other parts of your life had to have a Blackberry... we call this peer pressure to buy a Blackberry. :-)

      Then Apple came along and changed everything by showing how to make broadband work on a mobile device. And by work I don't mean how to make the bits flow, I mean as in how to make it useful so people would gladly and giddily pay more for the broadband than they were for voice and text. Oh, and they added the find my iPhone and wipe my iPhone features.

      Overnight RIM's business model ceased to be viable. With the ability to remote wipe an iPhone business didn't really care how the data got on the iPhone e.g. AES whatever. They just needed the ability to clean up after lost devices.

      Apple makes their money selling $650 iPhones and RIM makes their money renting email access to corporations by the month per employee. Apple has killed their handle business so no one buys their blades anymore.

      The Playbook could have saved their business model if they had learned from Apple: HTML 5 apps are fun but native development is where the real apps are found. And not because native development is better, it's all about the mash up. Developers have more familiar tools available in native frameworks than they presently have in HTML 5.
      scotty1024
      • Not sure about that

        @scotty1024 Objective C is a struggle for anyone who evolved their C knowledge in the C++ direction (Java and C# are on this path.)

        Messages and low level memory management aren't fun. That's why the third party tools easing phone development through HTML5 frameworks are thriving - even on iPhone!
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • rim needs a merger

    somebody needs to buy these suckas... rim needs some love... a RIM-job perhaps?
    sucitivel
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @sucitivel do not bet on it pal qnx is the next thing in mobile systems rim knows it and they are not rushing hadsets based on qnx they are perfecting the technology.
      nothing wrong with playbook it was launched for b.b. users only and wifi. do not cry yiu will soon get 3g with native mail and quarter of a million apps.
      augustus_rome
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @augustus_rome where are the quarter million apps coming from? Are you assuming Android apps? Because if you are you haven't read RIM's statements very closely. The Playbook WILL run Android apps using Alien Davlik BUT the apps have to be repackaged using a special wrapper and uploaded into BlackBerry's app store. You can't just hop off to the Android Market and pick any Android app. The developer has to have ported/packaged the app and included it in the bb app store. That doesn't make 250,000 apps immediately available to the Playbook.
        nhavar
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @augustus_rome:

        QNX might be the next big thing, but I have to question whether RIM will last long enough to implement their perfected version.

        First, don't get me wrong; I'm not a Droid or an iPhone fanboi. I love my Blackberry. I love not worrying about compromising corporate security, and yet having my email at my fingertips 24/7 (OK, I don't really LOVE that bit, but it's a necessity in my job, so it's the least objectionable way for me to be aware of what's going on). But that's not a Blackberry exclusive any more. And RIM is only starting to clue in to that.

        It's a scary new world out there for RIM. Security is a commodity item, and more than one player can honestly check that box off. iPhone4 supports encryption and remote nuke, and so do most recent Android models.

        The cash cow's run out of milk, boys and girls. Releasing an absolute perfect QNX handset at a competitive price might not even be enough. Waiting to make it perfect next year or pricing it too high today gives RIM about the chances a whelk has in a supernova.

        And it kills me to say this, because I love Blackberry/RIM. They were the first to actually take the whole "security" thing seriously, and I applaud them for that. Bravo, boys.

        Unless I'm very much mistaken, "CARED ABOUT SECURITY" will look great on RIM's tombstone real soon.

        They'll have a dedicated customer base, of course, and some echo of the company will be around for some time to come.

        Hell, you can still buy new PalmOS phones, and they're GOOD phones. And I fondly remember my first PalmPilot in the same way I'll probably remember my current 9300 Curve. "They were remarkable for their day, but the companies rested on their laurels a bit too long".
        NateHoy
  • No shocker I'm a HUGE Apple fan!

    And being so for many a year I can easily recall practically daily articles written about Apples demise:). These articles had some well reasoned arguments to back up the idea that Apple practically HAD to fail. Yet today look where Apple is!!!! A layoff is often a clever reorganization of limited resources and a healthy thing to do in given circumstances. As for Linux Geek.... No I don't think Android is the Answer for RIM. If RIM were to go that way they would become but one of many and be dipped into an inevitable price way between Andeoid OEM's that will see many an eventual failure.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @James Quinn dum dums do not build multi billion $ corporations. there are times of change and those who adapt survive and prosper.
      augustus_rome
    • RE: Requiem for RIM

      @James Quinn
      Getting rid of that many people who actually do the work is not healthy at all. This is going to make it worse, though it may make the books look better today it won't for tomorrow.
      root12
      • RE: Requiem for RIM

        @root12
        Periodic smallish layoffs can be good. There is no manager anywhere who has never made a hiring mistake. But thanks to today's laws, it's virtually impossible to get rid of them. So they hang around, filling slots and eating payroll dollars without contributing much. A good layoff now and then provides an opportunity to throw the known losers out of the boat.
        Robert Hahn