On Monday of this week, RIM’s new CEO made a statement that set off a bomb on the blogosphere, and I’m not sure he understood its repercussions at the time. “I don’t think any drastic change is needed.”
If you’ve been paying attention to RIM and its numbers, you know that what the company desperately needs is change. Sales are declining, platform market share is dwindling, and the BlackBerry brand, to a large extent, has lost the power it once had behind it. So in a recent interview with CrackBerry, Heins made sure to clarify exactly what he meant by “no drastic change is needed.”
I think this got into a little bit of the black and white zone. I was talking about drastic or seismic changes. What I was trying to address was that there was some suggestion that RIM should be split up or should even be sold. My true belief is that RIM has the strength and the assets that we can really succeed in this market.
There is a LOT of change. There is a lot of structure change, there has been already a lot of change in terms of our software, our software platform, bringing QNX in. There is no standstill at any moment here at RIM.
What I wanted to make clear to the market is that we believe in our own strength, we are BlackBerry, we are an integrated solution, hardware, software, services, and network.
Perhaps, Mr. Heins makes a point. RIM is clearly trying to change. We just haven’t seen it yet.
A QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system is a huge step in the right direction, but it was announced in April 2010 and won’t be ready until the second half of this year. Quite the wait, if I may be so bold.
Then there’s the PlayBook 2.0 OS that’s supposed to make its way to us next month, and refreshed hardware to go along with it which hasn’t been given a clear release date. Again, these are solid changes. PlayBook 2.0 brings everything that the first tablet OS was lacking and does it in a seamless, elegant manner. But… the original PlayBook should’ve launched with this version of the OS, even if it meant the launch would be a bit later. Another case of attempted change, but poor execution.
Another change we’ll soon see from RIM has to do with their launch strategy. RIM usually puts out two or three new phones all on the same day. It’s like a BlackBerry explosion. But according to a leaked roadmap, the company seems to finally realize that a staggered approach is the only way to give each device a moment in the sun. It’s a smart move, we just need to experience it.
Finally, the BlackBerry London. Despite the fact that RIM’s bread and butter lies with its full QWERTY keyboard, the company is expected to debut BlackBerry 10 on an all-touch device, codenamed London. I have to say I applaud RIM for this choice, for now.
RIM’s core audience enjoys the full QWERTY, no doubt, and the company will likely continue to be the de facto when it comes to communication and QWERTY handsets. But (yep, another but)… the world is moving to all-touch whether RIM likes it or not. This is the company’s chance to tap into a different, younger segment of the market.
Of course, the London will need to be just about perfect in terms of hardware to get the ball rolling again, especially since RIM’s found itself in an uphill battle.
Long story short, RIM certainly is in the midst of a change. Whether it’s big enough or coming soon enough is an entirely different story.