Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is RIM truly in Trouble?

I have to admit, I don't really understand the stock market. I suspect it's like every other aspect of human nature, it can be irrational, prone to the latest fad or even a product of the 'just cuz' way of looking at things.

We have been inundated with doom and gloom from RIM. From riots in Indonesia when a new Blackberry went on sale, to drunk executives getting arrested on planes. Oh yes, the lack of sales for the Playbook. You would almost think the heavens had decided to turn against RIM. Or, is there an active case of Apple's reality distortion field is being directed at every business and tech writer in North America.

The number one answer is to fire the CEO's much like sports teams fire the coach when the team does poorly. Easier to fire one or two people then 17,500 people. Although those numbers may not be all that good.

However, there is also reality. If one examines RIM there are a few things that come to the eyes; it is a profitable company and it makes a lot of money. Also sales have been increasing, even this year it's up. If you look at the headlines, you might think otherwise, but the numbers don't lie. I suspect it is a company that has solid but not spectacular growth. Also it has a product that people have grown to expect and therefore its not lighting any fires or rocking the world with its latest release. Could it be the main problem. We are living in the age when everyone has the attention span of that dog in the movie "Up" "SQUIRREL!!!". Yeah, that dog. If it isn't shiny and bright and if it doesn't have an Apple logos on it, not good at all. Of course.

I will admit some of the complaint are probably justified; too many phones- which confuses the consumer, a tablet that seems to have been rushed out the door and the fact it was the primary leader and company that once set the standard of what we now call smartphones. In that case it probably suffers the fate of all front-runners, they believe their best is their best and will continue to be that way. It happens.

I don't believe the company will disappear. It produces a product that is popular around the world and its still making inroads. It is big in those small markets such as India, it is truly an international company. Let's face it, the North American market is just changing chairs. Today I want a Blackberry, tomorrow it will be an iPhone and then next week an Android until Windows 8 phone comes out. It's the fickleness of the consumer that is probably driving the headlines.

The question is, what should RIM do?

Again, not an expert but here's a few:

1) do the research and marketing- the Blackberry is now popular in school, everyone loves BBM- push that for all its worth. Texting is the way people communicate- not the phone necessarily but texting.

2) Simplify the product. One complaint is that RIM produces too many Blackberry's. I don't know how many models there are but it seems a lot of them. Too many choice confuses people. If we look at Apple, there are really only three products- the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod Touch. If I look at the commercials, that's all. the ipod, with the exception of the Touch, is no where to be seen. This holiday season there are no commercials. I have seen the Touch commercial- this is simplifying things, if you want a tablet, you get the iPad, you want a phone, the iPhone and if you want a media device, you get the Touch. That's it. Also all their products basically now look alike, the only difference is size. You do the same thing on all three products, yeah one's a phone and the other two are not, but seriously what is the difference. Even the capacity is the same; 16.32 or 64 Gig- yes I know the Touch has a 8Gig model. Notice the huge difference. Even design doesn't change- of course this year they added a white one of everything. Now that's innovation. Now I know the iOS is spectacular- but still what huge leaps forward is there? I came across one comment that suggest RIM should have three basic models; touch, keyboard and hybrid. Three works well.

3) Improve the Playbook. This device is turning me into a RIM fanboy. It is a great product. The multimedia work of it is stunning. Let me add a video I shot today:

It does need email, BBM and more apps. I hate to sound like one of those app junkies, but I actually am one. Let's get the apps out- for tablets and small devices they do make life easier. I am looking forward to the Playbook OS 2.0 software. It should be exciting. When it does come out, the company should push the Playbook as the new improved, without being totally dorked about it. I know it's easy to compare it to the iPad, which is the gold standard, but let people know it's blackberry bringing that knowledge to the tablet. As well, make sure there are the native apps, I know the push is android apps- which is going to be very good, but make sure there are Playbook only apps. This will help.

4) remind yourself of the original vision. Now take that vision and discover new ways to articulate it.

5) Ignore all the negative press. It's all nonsense.

Just a few of my thoughts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that once the media cycle starts running with a story like "RIM in trouble", it feeds on itself. Whether RIM is in trouble or not, everyone is going to hear about how much trouble RIM is in.