10 Reasons Why RIM Won’t Die

by Dave Michels

It has been fun to kick RIM. Text book example of why incumbents get disrupted/ RIM owned/invented email on a mobile phone. They invented the smartphone. We used to call their addicts ‘”Crackberries.” But they (along with everyone else) underestimated Apple. Blackberry had a huge market share – relationships with every major cellular carrier, a customer base of raving fans, and deep integration into Exchange. Strong technologies, happy customers, barriers to entry – what could possibly go wrong?

The iPhone changed the world (for the better?) and changed the way we use our smart devices. The value moved from email to apps while the interface moved from esoteric to intuitive. Consumerization, social networking, and mobility put RIM on the defensive, and the tail spin started. Android took on the iPhone, Microsoft invested billions – and somehow RIM isn’t even part of the conversation any more. Or is it? Today’s big news is the co-CEOs are stepping down. It’s tough to see a founder effectively ousted, but times have changed and they haven’t. They each have a ton of experience, but they have lost credibility, and a new face is necessary. I expect the two to stay around the boardroom for a while.

10 Reasons Why RIM Isn’t Done

  1. QNX: BB-OS lived a wonderful life – but the rules have changed. RIM acquired QNX and the operating system by the same name as its next bet. The Playbook was its first QNX product, Playbook 2 will be the second (expected soon) – the magical third will be BB10 or Blackberry 10 expected later this year. Third release from RIM, and not a new OS. Has potential.
  2. Steve Jobs is still dead.
  3. CarrierIQ. Carrier IQ was a fiasco. It showed how equipment makers and carriers can so easily abuse our privacy. No major carrier and no major vendor (not even Apple) escaped this fiasco untouched EXCEPT RIM. RIM has more experience in enterprise communications than any other mobile device manufacturer, as we talk more about security and integration, this experience will be recognized.
  4. Android. BB10 will be able to support Android Apps – this isn’t a native implementation (no Google Market Place), but real business apps will find the port to BB10 fairly easy and attractive.
  5. HTML5. RIM has impressive HTML5 performance (the future and present of the web) on the Playbook – better than Android.
  6. Enterprise Sales: We love to talk about BYOD and Blackberry phones can be directly purchased by consumers at retail or mail order outlets. But, RIM also has a direct sales force that calls on enterprises and a development network that calls on third party firms. Mitel and Cisco, for example, successfully integrated with RIM’s MVS 5.0 – there is no similar approach or model for Android. Google has a very small sales force pushing Android, and Apple primarily relies on its direct and carrier retail outlets. A direct sales force has benefits.
  7. Android Fragmentation. There is a distinct possibility that Google has lost control of Android. Not only is fragmentation a problem within the legitimate Google Android segment, but products like the Cius, ADVD, and Amazon Fire exacerbate the fragmentation situation. This will weaken Android, and distract Google.
  8. Apps. It is all about Apps. On the RIM side, adding/expanding the video library to the Playbook was a good move – making it easy for Android apps to run on BB10 s another good move – expect lots of activity at BB AppWorld. On the Android side, a good chunk of Android apps are pirated Android apps resubmitted to the Market Place – that get’s old.
  9. New Devices. I got nothing here but a realistic hope that RIM figured out that it needs new products and has something up its sleeve. The Torch and Bold are old news. I expect new models will be out with BB10 and I assume they have been watching what’s hot and what’s not in terms of form factors and features. There are not that many companies that can manufacture quality mobile phones – Apple, Nokia, Samsung, and RIM.
  10. Huge user base. Even though it has been dropping, it is still holding about 16% market share. That’s a big number for a supposedly dead company – and this late in the game… those users won’t be dropping too fast. It’s a lot of users – international, and corporate – valuable assets.

I have never owned a Blackberry phone. I have nothing to list under disclaimers. This is just my causal observations from the peanut gallery. I think, in general, markets/people frequently overreact, and calling RIM dead at this point isn’t reasonable. The company has no debt, reasonable market share, new leadership, and some publicly stated strategies to address major deficiencies.

I would consider getting a BB10 new device, but it’s hard to be more definitive than “consider” until it is out.