What happened to RIM and where are they going?
(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)
Last edited by Brett Wyman; 06-30-2009 at 06:50 PM.
I read this article and completely agree...
Hard not to agree with it brings to light a lot of the issues that we see every day on the forums.
I really agree with this article. It was well written and proves every point that he makes with examples. Hate to say it but, it's a perfect article on an on-going problem.
And I hate to see this as well but through my secret ninja source I got a chance to play with the Tour today and it really wasn't anything special. To me it's the same phone as the Storm with a physical keyboard. To be honest I expected more. The screen looks dope but it's half the size of the Storms. Since I never had any issues with typing on the Storm I am going to pass on the Tour. However, I know a lot of you are not fond of the touchscreen so if not than you will be satisfied. Just don't expect anything more than having a phyisical keyboard.
Buzz kill :fing26:
Originally Posted by jlevy73
Sorry honey, just stating my initial impression of it.
Originally Posted by Bryan
...OS 4.6...Oh, look! OS 5.0! What changed? 99% nothing.
I gotta agree somewhat. Now there's a lot more differences in 5.0 than the OS's now, ex: new boot up screen, new BBM, media player, etc. But IMO nothing really drastic. Where's the full Java native browser?
...RIM’s 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? It’s a Bold in a smaller, sexier package. Nothing else is different. The BlackBerry Storm 2? It’s the same device with maybe improved screen tech. The BlackBerry Magnum? As hot as a hybrid touch screen/QWERTY device would be, it’s still a BlackBerry that can’t pull up a webpage to save its life or play a real game or have any sort of desktop-class application running.
I completely agree 100%! RIM has just taken the devices they have now and just did a little "refresh" of them. The Onyx, smaller, faster Bold. Nothing really new. Storm 2, same thing, now more touch sensitive (so 2007). Magnum QWERTY and touch, same thing as some carriers been doing for the last couple years. RIM just needs to take a new look at what's going on NOW. But you do gotta remember RIM has been most likely working on these devices years back, when all this QWERTY and touch was "new" and the touch sensitive screen was "new."
Lets just hope that someone at RIM see's this and worries, but I doubt that!
I think they have blinders on right now and are going to continue to focus on the business sector. I hope I am wrong because Apple is making big strides in catching up to RIM on all fronts. If rumors are true and an Iphone comes to VZW that will be a bad day for RIM.
Originally Posted by FISH4RUDY
I agree somewhat with the article. I believe that RIM does have something up their sleves we just need to be patient and wait. I believe that when 4G comes we will see the all in one blackberry
Yeah, but until then RIM is still behind. And still hasn't got the memo.
Originally Posted by burridge007
i thought the article was very true
Yup can't deny that
Originally Posted by ausch
Taken from the OP's original post,
"I don’t think I’ll ever give up my BlackBerry"
If i want to watch TV, I turn on a 67" TV
If I want to listen to music, I crank up the surround sound system, home and mobile.
If i want to play games, the 360 does the job.
If i want to continue doing the job effectively, that affords me the luxury of these choices, I turn on a Blackberry.
RIM has done the marketing homework.
Like a poet cruz
Originally Posted by cruznthru
I know you and I have this discussion many times before. I just want to see something revolutionary come out of RIM. Maybe I am just expecting too much and should be happy with what I have but being an engineer I always am looking for ways to improve something. I am not an advocate of the iPhone or the Pre but they have added features that IMO would be excellent to see on BB's. Multitasking and an improved browser would be nice. Sometimes if aint broke don't fix it works but I see others gaining ground on Blackberry and it's time for them to take a revolutionary step forward.
Understand completely, I'd kick RIM to the curb as fast as I would a cheating wife (both of which I've done in the past) however RIM gets it done for me. Verizon will p/u the iphone sometime in mid 2010, by then the entire landscape will have changed with technology. RIM has no competition to speak of, those that live for the Winmo apps will stay with entertainment, and those that need to do business will gravitate to the Blackberry.
Originally Posted by jlevy73
I have yet to see any respectible IT engineer whip out an iphone at any conference and remote into his server.
I hear they have nice weather apps, when you can connect.
Ha that is funny. Believe it or not Berryweather is nicer lol. I have seen an IT engineer attempt to remote into his conference but it resulted in bloodshed for the iPhone
Originally Posted by cruznthru
I don't have luxury of trying many different phones, and I have not used an iPhone, so can not speak with the same authority as the Boy Genius reporter or many of you here. Yet, I can understand where RIM is coming from and why there are in the situation they are. It boils down to corporate culture and that's a very hard thing to change.
I spent 28 years as a Software/Hardware Engineer for Tektronix, one of the finest makers of electronic test equipment in the world. In the beginning, their core products were oscilloscopes (used the measure and observe signals in electronic circuits). These of course were 100% hardware with no software (we're talking late 1940's here). It wasn't until the mid to late 1970s that the products started incorporating microprocessors and embedded software/firmware. By that time, the company had spent almost 30 years as a hardware company. All the managers from the first level supervisor to the President had a hardware orientation. None of them really knew anything about software, what makes software projects different from hardware projects or how to manage a software project.
While software development and Software Engineering had been around for years, it was all mainframe based. Intel introduced the 8080 8-bit microprocessor in 1974, the year I graduated from college and joined Tek (now i'm showing my age :biglaugh. For many years, even though Tek products started incorporated microprocessors and software, the company was in what I would call a state of denial. The corporate culture said "we are not a software company." By the 1980s, they were very much a software driven company - all denials and protestations not withstanding - in that every piece of test equipment made was highly reliant on embedded processing power to provide the user interface and measurement capabilties required.
I suspect RIM is in the thralls of a similar transition. They more than likely started life as a cell phone company, focusing on hardware features (large display, thumb wheel, later on QWERTY keyboards and color displays, etc.). That's their culture. There are probably some people in the company that realize they should not be a hardware company anymore and that they need to be a software focused company, but there are probably others that are stuck in the past.
It's very hard for a company to move beyond the products and markets that made them a success. It's what everyone from the CEO on down know and understand. This is why you end up with variations on the theme and product improvement projects. (Many of RIMs newer products could just as well be called 8xxxA, 8xxxB, 9xxxA, 9xxxB, etc. instead of having new model numbers.) Internally, I suspect the company is struggling to figure out what their focus should be - i.e., should they continue to focus on the business market they know? should they move more into the consumer space?, etc. No doubt there is pressure from the software engineers to do a major rewrite of the OS (which is always fun and exciting for an engineer). Management is looking at the 3-5 year timeframe for a new from scratch OS and saying we can't afford to wait that long or spend that much money, so they continue to patch what they have and hope it will suffice.
The companies that succeed in the long term are those that can make the paradigm shifts in company culture required to jump into new markets or remain successful in the ones they used to own. I hope RIM is one of those companies that can make that shift.
[P.S. Any comments about what RIM is doing or not doing is pure speculation based on my observation of other high tech companies. I don't have inside knowledge and don't even know anyone that works for RIM.]
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