You’re in serious trouble (clearly). You keep flipping management (to no avail). You may not survive (although we know a player out there will buy what’s left over from the impending roadkill). What path do you take? How do you get through this and survive? Is there a way out?
Yes, you can get through this successfully. Monday morning quarterbacking aside (no doubt that’s exactly what this is – but here’s also a potential roadmap on how RIM can play it forward).
Embrace what you have – which is a loyal customer base.
LOYAL CUSTOMER BASE
I know, we’re not fanatical (for the most part) like Apple disciples, but you’re also not coming from a “retail” product either. Get back to your roots and don’t just invite the customers into your domain – welcome them with open arms. Go Religious! Own it and then build it – they will continue to come (and stay).
Now let’s get to the specifics on how to get RIM back on track for the long term, better serve your customers, as well as build a more powerful brand:
– Custom Built Devices – offer different keyboard options (such as size of the keys — yes, many us need larger keys and you have ignored our needs since our beloved “wheel” was taken from us), different “shells”, and even operating system choices from a set of different Blackberry “Flavors”.
– Build the “Black Box” Blackberry – a no frills, all-business, rock-solid smartphone – phone, e-mail, messaging, fast with a no-crash guarantee. The fastest, most reliable, crash-proof phone in the world.
– Expand your Cloud offerings and deliver a truly business-centric SaaS solution as part of the device platform. Outsource it if you have to – think Microsoft, Oracle or Rackspace. You must have a corporate cloud (specifically for small and medium size businesses) – but have it focused and adept at handling business as well as personal data with full remote connectivity and seamless sync.
– Streamline Your OS (operating system) – the Operating System is huge when it comes to these devices. Get focused on stability and performance. Get back to basics and give us what we want and need with the core OS — get rid of the bloat. We are NOT iPhone users (yet) — we know what we want and so should you at this point (for more on this point, might be a good idea to check out this earlier blog: Ready to Trade Your BlackBerry for the iPhone?).
– Lock down the devices and make them more secure than ever – focus on becoming the “IBM ThinkPad” of the mobile device industry.
– Your app store (sorry, “App World”) is awful — and clumsy. The integration between the app store experience on the device and integrated via the web site is terrible. The good part is that most Blackberry users could care less! Blackberry customers are “core” users — give us what we want from day one (such as compatible apps for opening e-mail attachments, better file-type support and improved viewers) – keep it simple. Sure, apps are great, but you will never catch up to Apple so stop playing their game. Focus on simplicity and quality. Ever think of going SaaS for Apps? Single monthly subscription price gets ALL APPS INCLUDED! (I’m sure the legal department will work out a wonderful revenue-sharing model for developers).
– Stop slashing prices and offering spiffs – embrace the fact that dedicated, loyal business users will pay for your devices. Seeing a free Blackberry or one for $49 is never a good thing when focusing on instilling confidence.
– Expand into the professional services industry and team up with a big player(s) and if that’s not going to be an Accenture, IBM or SAP – then look abroad to Tata, Infosys and/or Wipro. Get into the professional services game and diversify your as well as their corporate mobile solution offerings. Do not make the same mistake that Apple did years ago and think your hardware is the future — embrace mobile as a platform solution across many devices and vendor offerings.
– Avoid network outages – build redundant, protective systems. Restructure if needed to unload e-mail /messaging services. Do we really need RIM as the messaging middleware for ALL e-mail accounts handled on a Blackberry device? Time to consider and assess what the RIM infrastructure will look like (or needs to look like) three to five years from now?
Stop looking over your shoulder and look ahead. You have a major presence in many international markets, good products with proprietary advantages, and a loyal customer-base – but you’re sliding and doing what you’ve been doing (definition of “crazy”?) will kill RIM long-term and you will be swallowed by another company (then slowly wither away) unless you get real and think like a small, creative organization.
What you’ve been doing so far is, pathetic – plain and simple. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll probably be bought by Microsoft, yet another player that has a pitiful track record in the mobile space. That will surely be the last nail in RIM’s coffin.
Let me clarify: We (loyal Blackberry users) may not be standing in line two weeks outside a Verizon store before a new RIM model is released — we have jobs (and kids). But do not confuse that with not being loyal or not caring. We do have a passion for Blackberry but it comes across as more of an addiction or requirement to making our lives easier (both business and personal). As RIM board members, you owe it to us to get your heads out of the sand — and quickly.
Don’t let us down.