RIM: One more nail in the coffin?

RIM recalling over 900 faulty BlackBerry PlayBooks, is yours on the list?

Sadly, no explanation of what, exactly was faulty in the devices nor has any official communication come across as of yet…

Yet another nail in the coffin of a company that was too late in admitting it had competitive problems. 1

While it seems clear that RIM isn’t ignoring iOS or Android, per se, what does seem clear is that RIM is caught in the unenviable position of having to choose between what they know – their existing consumer base – and what they should know – that the future isn’t going to embrace their past with open arms (see ComScore link above).

MacWorld has a nice write-up of some of the other “nails” in the coffin.

So why bother? That’s the only conclusion to draw from RIM’s latest grand plan. It should stop pretending it has any other strategy than to hope it will wake up one morning to discover the iPhone and Android phenomenon was just a bad dream. That storyline doesn’t even work in soap operas, much less the real world.

Ouch …


  1. If you scroll down in the commeents, you learn that the problem is that the software license agreement won’t load, rendering the device useless. Ironic, isn’t it?

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  1. #1 by Kris Kaneta on May 18, 2011 - 8:36 am

    I find it interesting RIM has a screw up like this and it’s a “nail in the coffin”, Apple screws up and develops a phone they know will drop calls if held a certain way – their response is to sell some cases to shield the edges – and they go on to be the hero of the day.

    I think the difference here is Apple has earned goodwill in their perceived leading edge technology. People are willing to accept glitches in something they know is new, better, faster, whatever.

    In RIM’s case, there was no goodwill. They used up goodwill when they put out phone after phone that basically looked, felt and acted like the previous generation. It continues to amaze me that RIM can’t figure out how to develop devices that compete with Google and Apple, given their relative position of market dominance.

    I think the other challenge the RIM is facing (purely speculative) is internal. I would hypothesize that there’s a delusional belief among RIM execs that BB customers like their blackberrys. They like their tactile keyboards, they like the OS, they like the email push. And while *some* people may put a premium on those things, it’s a simple matter of segmentation. You can still be loyal to that customer base (though I question how big that group of loyalists is) and also develop products geared toward segments with different / more advance use case needs.

  2. #2 by Sam Kale on May 18, 2011 - 9:13 am

    Regarding “AntennaGate,” see:
    http://daringfireball.net/2010/07/antennagate_bottom_line
    http://daringfireball.net/2010/07/antennagate_addendum

    It’s interesting what you said about the pull between current customers and future customers. There’s a saying in sports: “the scariest thing to do is to walk into the locker room at halftime and change the entire strategy that got you there.”

    I think RIM’s biggest problem is being able to walk away from a big and profitable customer base (old men in the enterprise) in favor of an unknown potential customer base that may or may not regard whatever changes they make as credible (will someone who wants an iPhone or Android really be convinced to buy a Blackberry? How?)

    The reason I call this a “nail in the coffin” and don’t apply the same criticisms to Apple is that RIM seems to be caught in a downward spiral … no real updates to handsets, poor functionality on the Storm series, a poor and stagnant OS, late to the table on extended functionality and apps, poor understanding of segmentation and targeting (see: Blackberry Messenger ads on television), and the inability to admit to themselves that the market is changing around them. Not because they’re not Apple … or not JUST because they’re not Apple.

    Full Disclosure: I currently carry both an iPhone (personal) and a Blackberry (work).

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