The saddest thing about RIM’s demise? They should have seen this coming. I’m 31 and not too young to remember when PDA = Palm kinda like Tissue = Kleenex.
Palm should have had a lock on the smartphone market. What happened?
Quite simply they didn’t see the future. By the time the Palm OS was out to market at scale a little company called RIM had stolen their lunch and was laughing at them in front of all of the other kids on the playground. Although Palm rebounded with a great OS that kicked Blackberry’s proverbial @$$ they hit scale way too late to the game and no one was developing apps for the Palm Centro. Users couldn’t get the tools they wanted and the company was sent to purgatory also known as an HP buyout.
RIM should have learned from Palm’s mistakes… See the future, adapt, keep growing and keep eating the competition’s lunch.
Unfortunately RIM didn’t see the future. (In case you are wondering it is touch screens, hi def phones and powerful web browsing and application usage.) What I can say is that their execs were too busy getting wasted in first class to notice that the plane was going way off course.
The first warning should have been there were 2 guys in the captains chair… How can a company have 2 CEO’s?
The second warning should have been their first foray into the touch screens. The Blackberry Storm will live among the largest epic fails of all-time in the smartphone market. The platform was absolute garbage. The Torch phones should have all been gathered up and tossed in a bonfire, or at the very least scrapped and turned into iPhones.
But here is the real disturbing thing. Every company gets off course, misses a train drops the ball. Heck Apple practically forgot to put an antenna on their 3rd generation iPhone. What did Palm do? Told all the passengers not to worry. They weren’t on the wrong course. “Don’t let your eyes deceive you. We aren’t losing altitude.”
And so they continued on. And lost more ground. And then 2 important things happened which put the big nails in RIM’s coffin.
1) Android was released and it worked well. Really well.
2) Apple cut a deal with Verizon
Yikes time to figure this out. Sober up and set a new heading right? Wrong. RIM ordered another round. “Don’t mind the Andes ahead folks. We are doing just fine.” Unfortunately the idiocy in not adjusting course has cost Palm tons of time. Now the company is in a mad scramble. They have 12 months to start turning this around. Only time will tell if it can be done but here is my advice to RIM.
1) Remember your core audience. You destroyed Palm by taking over the professional market. Apple and Android have made huge gains in this realm. Time to make the white-collar worker your target.
2) Know what you do best. It’s e-mail. RIM still has the easiest email product in the smartphone market. Drive that point home.
3) Cut deals with LinkedIn, Hoovers, Salesforce and other professional services to have unique applications. Your market is professionals and professionals live on these services. Time to figure out a way to enable better integration of your product with theirs.
4) Turn SMS into a professional’s version of Twitter. SMS is beautiful allowing people to chat for free globally. Ironically it works as a mobile Twitter feed in the cloud. RIM should allow blackberry users create SMS communities. Figure out a way to set up a separate inbox for SMS messages that fall under a specific topic. (Ex “Mobile Marketing”). Anonymize posts and create discussion forums that live on peoples smart phones.
Bottom line. RIM has 2 options. Either sell the company or figure out a new point of differentiation. Something that makes a Blackberry a must have for a certain market segment. Admittedly the task looms large (See the title of this post), but the sun hasn’t set on the company yet.