(article taken from BoyGeniusReport.com)
I want to start this off by saying I have nothing but love for RIM the company. Probably my favorite tech corporation in the world, theyíve created an incredibly unique product that practically replaces the need for drugs for most people. Whatís even more fascinating, however, is how RIM (to the pleasant surprise of a lot of us early users) has managed to take a corporate-focused product and service and blow down doors in the consumer world. From the BlackBerry 7100, the first consumer-oriented device, to the eye-catching BlackBerry Tour (itís business through and through, yet it will be an incredibly popular consumer phone on Verizon and Sprint), itís clear that RIM has done everything right to this day.
So, whatís the problem youíre asking? They have probably the best back-end infrastructure for mobile communication on the planet, awesome phones that can go head-to-head with high-end smartphones, consumer marketing, a huge consumer fanbase, and practically every businessman (or woman) has one on their hip. One word is where RIM fails so miserably it isnít even imaginable: software.
You have to look at the big picture hereÖ for what RIM is working with (an incredibly miserable Java OS with so much security and encryption and smoke-blowing APIs) theyíve hit the jackpot. Their OS architecture is fantastic, their use of security is what makes them so trustworthy. But, as each handset release comes closer and closer, people start to see the bigger picture. And thatís the fact that RIMís OS is more than antiquated, itís borderline laughable. But it works, youíre thinking, so whatís wrong? Iíve been saying this for years, but it wasnít designed to do anything the BlackBerry does now. Imagine scotch taping car parts to a 200hp engine and see how far that gets you. Obviously, itís just a viciously rough metaphor, but we believe a correct one.
Thereís so many limitations to RIMís OS, and even RIMís data network that it offsets all the wonderful things theyíve managed to accomplish. Remember when people were so excited over leaked shots of OS 4.6 and I said somewhere it was just a theme? Well, was I wrong? Oh, look! OS 5.0! What changed? 99% nothing. Some functionality is added here and there, but the mobile phone landscape has changed so drastically in the last two years, that RIM, admittedly known to planning ďthree years outĒ looks to be unable to see the proper direction to head.
You can throw $1,000,000,000 at developers but you wonít get any if your OS, tools, and documentation are so bad, and thatís really in the end a lot of what Iím getting at. I was laying in bed at around 3AM early one morning recently, looking through the iPhone App Store and I came across EAís Tiger Woods Golf. $4.99, why not? Wait, itís 150MB? Wow, it must be good. I clicked purchase and literally 4 minutes later, Tiger Woods was installed and up on my screen. Granted I was on a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, but it made me realize more than ever that RIM has the most uphill battle of their lifetimes. When a BlackBerry application over 500k is considered ďlargeĒ, somethingís wrong. When TweetGenius is one of the first BlackBerry applications to do fun, unique things like transparent overlays, consistent shortcuts, and a straight forward UI, something is wrong.
The reason why this is so frustrating to me and Iím guessing many is because RIM literally almost has it all. Theyíve got it! They are 90% there but that last 10% has become the most important. If you take Apple for example, and see their shortcomings, and then what theyíve done to fix them, itís remarkable. Itís a completely different DNA than RIMís but itís working. In two years Apple has practically matched Research In Motion in almost every consumer area while having the most advanced mobile operating system with the most advanced mobile SDK on the planet. If Apple can do this in just two years and RIM has stood still, no one thinks thatís a problem?
The reason RIM works is because itís the entire package, if you will. Hardware, software, infrastructure, corporate integration, security, etc. People want simplicity, ease of use, but more than ever they want more than they need. Stupider people are smarter and expect more, smarter people are stupider and expect more. RIM delivers the same tired package in new hardware and people are starting to catch on. App World? Seriously? From every single developer Iíve spoke to, itís a non-starter. It basically doesnít exist to them in terms of a sales channel ó itís practically like 1% if that.
What consumers donít do is look forward. They look at whatís put in front of them. Itís the exact opposite for the manufacturer and thus why itís so difficult. Look back two or three years and the Bold and Storm might seem incredibly innovative, consumer-focused, and sure to be hot sellers. And they were and are, but look ahead three years and tell me point blank you have confidence that RIM knows how to steer this ship. I donít, and thatís being incredibly honest. Itís not me being negative, itís objectively looking at the landscape and evaluating things. I want RIM to succeed, I want RIM to make kick ass products. Iím just frustrated that RIM is going through hardware like itís nobodyís business yet fails to deliver on the things that everyone wants. Screw business people, screw consumers, everyone wants a WebKit-based browser. Itís inexcusable RIM doesnít get it. Itís inexcusable that people put up with a 2003 operating system with so many limitations and restrictions it would make Ahmadinejad jealous. I donít think RIM is going anywhere, they as a company are incredibly successful, but once they start to lose the consumer market which they worked so hard to get, itís a downward shift.
Hereís a list of RIMís models followed by Appleís in the last 3 years:
RIM: 8110, 8120, 8130, 8800, 8820, 8830, 8300, 8310, 8320, 8330, 8220, 8230, 8900, 9000, 9500, 9530, 9630.
Apple: iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS.
Thereís a good and bad part with knowing things in advance. For instance, people might hold off on purchasing a new BlackBerry if they know a newer and better one is being released in a couple months, and this hurts a companyís current product cycle. On the other hand, if someone on Verizon sees a Tour being released two months from now, they might rethink jumping ship or switching to a different device on Verizon. And the cycle continues. Looking at RIMís upcoming products for the next 6-12 months is simply a rehash of current limitations and shortcoming in smaller and sexier packages. The BlackBerry 9020? Itís a Bold in a smaller, sexier package. Nothing else is different. The BlackBerry Storm 2? Itís the same device with maybe improved screen tech. The BlackBerry Magnum? As hot as a hybrid touch screen/QWERTY device would be, itís still a BlackBerry that canít pull up a webpage to save its life or play a real game or have any sort of desktop-class application running.
These things wonít change, the core OS hasnít changed, and RIM has had no reason to change it. Why mess with success, right? Well, if you happen to be Research In Motion, you might have to start changing things up or newer and better operating systems like the iPhone, webOS, and Android are going to eat their lunch and their applications, too.
Iím fortunate enough to be able to have every phone I want on every carrier and that gives a person an incredible amount of clarity when picking the superior products. I use an iPhone 3GS and a BlackBerry Bold everyday, both on AT&T. But to tell you the truth, in the past when people ask me what device would I choose if I had to only pick one, it would hurt my brain. There was just no way to choose. But unfortunately or fortunately, that decision has become clearer and clearer. I donít think Iíll ever give up my BlackBerry, Iím pretty sure youíll always find one on my hip in an OEM RIM leather holster, (yes, holsters are cool as shit) but when me of all people starts truly questioning how a company as successful and brilliant as RIM is going to keep up with the next 2-3 years, youíve got a big, big issue.
Iíll close by saying that the market is still wide open and this doesnít mean RIM is or ever will go anywhere. Itís just something to keep an eye on and see how the best to ever do it will react to competitorsí advances, innovations, and of course, their software.
Article courtesy of the Boy Genius Report (and thanks to Ealnv for the find)