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Can Rim Survive the coming Year?

By HP Gaspar ·
I think we've all heard the rumblings in the middle of the night since this last outage on the blackberry internet service. Blackberry owners and their rivals are wondering what this predicts for the future, given the impact experienced by blackberry users worldwide, are there problems at RIM. The grapevine out there has vague murmurs of issues with the men at the helm, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, saying that his time has come and gone and that a new visionary needs to step in and take the company towards the future. We should not pay attention to these rumors and rumblings but rather look at RIM's reputation and standing in the market today.

Blackberry has pleased many a user out there, myself included. From a Nokia fan to a staunch HTC supporter, it was with the release of the Bold 9000 and the Bold 9700 that I became a fan of Blackberry and it's amazing connectivity. Both units have stood me in good stead and have performed admirably. The performance and dependability of the handsets for me has been superb, make no mistake, I'm not one of those users who handles his Blackberry like it's made of the finest Crystal and if you so much as look at it sideways it will crack and break, alas no! I'm a clumsy chap who drops the device in the oddest of places and often, the truth is if it had been my wife's Nokia X6 or my HTC, the phone would have been in the proverbial scrap heap in minutes. No, the Blackberry has stood it's test and performed well despite my rough and ready treatment of it.

RIM enjoys the fruits of a well designed device which at it's peak performs second to none in terms of connectivity and capability. As a mobile communications platform it was unsurpassed by any other unit out there and it's connectivity to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, the internet???. And the plethora of other communication and social interaction sites and applications is fantastic. This is the reason every blackberry owner swears by their phones, the connectivity, the seamless balance of social media and email, the ability to separate corporate email from personal email on one small device. I know people who used their Blackberry to do everything, their emails to clients, their quotes using preloaded templates, read documents, connect to their specialized applications and much more. The device in essence has replaced their once vaunted and loved laptop/notebook computer, they no longer need to work on a cumbersome laptop and do their jobs, they do everything on their Blackberry, I've heard reports that some people have written books on their Blackberries, can you imagine that, entire novels written on a small screen measuring a mere 2,75 by 1.5 inches. This in my opinion is RIM's greatest accomplishment and if they are not careful may lead to it's downfall, I'm sure the silence now on every Blackberry user who reads this is enough to hear a pin drop, it's almost deafening isn't it?

But yes, in my honest opinion, RIM is headed for a train wreck if they are not careful. With the birth of the iPhone the landscape changed, which has gone from strength to strength, RIM has seen it's market stagnating, whilst they appear to not have lost a significant amount of users, they have not grown either. Corporates like RIM need the growth, it fuels their development and the technology that we love so much depends on it. With growth comes new technology and with that comes change??? hang on, RIM has really changed much has it in the last few years. Devices have been released, units have been sold, but they are essentially cosmetic versions of their predecessors. RIM it is sad to say has not changed it's handheld that much, the device still has a limited amount of device memory, there is a large limitation in the apps that can be installed because of this, Blackberry apps still cannot be installed to the memory card. RIM released touch screen phones, which the Storm and Storm 2 left much to be desired. They appear to have got something right in the 9800 and the Bold 9900, which have both touch screen and the famous QWERTY keyboard of RIM's.

The fact is that RIM went to 3G late in the market and they still sell GPRS/EDGE only phones at present. With 3G released not that long ago by RIM and Touch screen capability not that long ago either, what places RIM in the firing line? Well RIM has retained the same small screen size on most of their devices with some of the touch screen units using a larger screen area. The latest BOLD has returned to the same screen once again as it's predecessor, the BOLD 9000, but hey they added touchscreen capability to it. On a screen that size? Really guys? RIM has maintained a Simple blend of black, silver, white and glass that has stood it in good stead but..!! To survive into the future, RIM needs to innovate, with the competition able to do everything that a Blackberry can do except the BIS and BES service, the future does not look great for RIM, especially if you bear in mind that the only separator now is the abovementioned BIS and BES service. If RIM is banking on their services standing them in good stead, then I honestly think they make a big mistake. The question then becomes "What can RIM do to ensure they remain relevant and retain their client base and business?". In my humble opinion, RIM needs to change the way they operate, they need to innovate, become more aggressive and provide a service that cannot be matched.

The way I see things, RIM has a few options:

1. With the competition out there releasing new models of devices with larger screen areas and amazing graphics, capabilities and technology, RIM needs to innovate and match their rivals, they need to step up and step out of the box, bring in some fresh ideas and fix the problems and issues that users have been forced to live with. Users out there are becoming more and more tech savvy, RIM needs to acknowledge that, users want more flexibility and capability on their devices. In other words if the phone could make a nice filter coffee then RIM needs to make sure that it is able to make Espresso's and Cappuccino's as well. Innovation and changes will drive the company forward and restore the confidence and appeal they have lost.

2. BIS and BES are not a staple that RIM can count on, at least not in it's current form, RIM needs to make changes and significant one to maintain it's market and retain it's client base. The buzz words out there are "device and platform agnostic", if you attended Tech ED or presentations from your vendors, you will notice that even our Giants like Microsoft are using the term. In essence, this means that your software needs to run on any device be it desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Microsoft is making huge strides with Lync, their communications suite which will run or already runs on almost any device out there including Android. The solution for RIM, SaaS(Software as a Service), RIM should consider making their BIS/BES solution platform and device agnostic, then they could sell a package like they do for their current devices to any device, this would open many doors for them and increase their user base tremendously. Just picture it, and Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy running the Blackberry Internet Service, users having the functionality of their device and the flexibility of the data plan from blackberry. The Blackberry Enterprise Service for corporates could use the same revamp, RIM would obviously have to partner with their counterparts and reach agreements, but they could offer the same Blackberry governance to other handsets. RIM would need to seriously increase and strengthen their current infrastructure but they would change their role in the design of things far more and bring our world one step closer in the communication layer.

3. Instant Messaging, RIM needs to release the Blackberry Messenger, it's limited, only runs on one type of device, a Blackberry. Look at Whatsapp, works from the tel number so the connectivity is nigh on instant and if the user has the application installed, he is able to communicate via Instant messaging almost immediately. Couple that with the fact that you can invite your friend to join you on whatsapp directly from the application and the utility is already cross-platform and extremely friendly to use.

This is obviously simply an opinion, but RIM does need to step up the game, the best way forward is to innovate and become market relevant. SaaS would be an ideal solution and would increase the footprint of the corporate, enhancing their name and creating the market relevance that people would like to see.

What do you think? What solutions would you propose RIM implement to become once again market relevant? I welcome your comments and ideas?

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Re: Can RIM survive the coming year?

by rdonahoe In reply to Can Rim Survive the comin ...

I don't think RIM will make the necessary changes to regain relevance in time with their
current leadership. Their senior executives seem clueless about what moves are required to compete in the current market. It appears they became complacent during the period when RIM had little serious competition for the enterprise. Now, they will be forced to play catchup, and it appears that they are just not capable of moving quickly enough to salvage the brand.

I keep hearing rumors of disagree in the ranks of RIM over the direction of the company. It is probably past time for a change in leadership. They need senior executives who can quickly establish a plan for the future and steer the company with a firm hand. That appears to be lacking currently.

I recently purchased a BB Playbook tablet. It is great hardware, and I am very pleased with it. However, the launch of the product was seriously botched, Additionally, the
device was grossly overpriced initially. At the current price I think it is a great value. I would not have purchased one for the original price.

I hope RIM will be able to survive and thrive, but dynamic changes will need to be made
in leadership style and to their understanding of the current market.

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