Friday, March 30, 2012

Blackberry Woes A Warning To Other Players

Blackberry's maker, Research In Motion, has been having a bad time of it lately and it got worse yesterday.  I don't want to get into the gory details from yesterday's financial call.  Only some personal observations about the market and what stagnation and arrogance can do to one individual or an empire, be it corporate or a political entity.

First, there's denial.  I was going to start with arrogance but they kind of go hand-in-hand at times.  Apple went through it in the 90s.  Microsoft, Palm, and countless others went through this during the 2000s with the music players.  And then as if that isn't enough, nearly all of the major mobile device makers were arrogantly in denial about the iPhone.

And I'm sure that while Apple has done quite well with the iPhone and other iOS devices, Steve Jobs likely was pretty arrogant when he thought Apple was years and years ahead of the competition.  I'm sure the folks at Cupertino were shocked when Google's Android so quickly overwhelmed the iPhone in the marketplace.  By some measure, Apple is still doing well where it counts:  it owns about 70% of the mobile profit.  

The worst is RIM.  It's palace enclosed CEOs simply didn't think competition could ever touch them based on the strength of the Blackberry brand.  They also believed their expertise in security for corporate emails and messaging would allow them to weather the tides of innovation happening just beyond their reach.

Hence, the only thing that I came away from the RIM earning call yesterday was that the company was open to being sold off.  Nothing else mattered.  The next Blackberry OS reminds of Web OS in a way.  It's fantastic for some and does some things differently from its competitions but it really offers nothing revolutionary in terms of experience.  And oh, no apps.  

Of course, this is a warning to the incumbent leaders in the wireless market.  Apple and Google.  However, they have an advantage the fallen have not.  They've seen what could happen if they sit on their asses and try to milk existing market for all its worth.  Someone will come along and knock them down.

Now, the question is can RIM make a comeback.  I've said above that RIM is open to offers of a takeover but let's supposed they want to try one more time to recapture its glory days.  Can it happen?  Apple did it, why not RIM?

I think it's possible.  Difficult but it can happen if innovative juice is still flowing there.  I don't know if it is.  Like a wounded beast, it'll have no choice to but strike out.  And because RIM could be desperate to try anything, that thing brought upon by primal desire to survive could be just what will end up disrupting the market.

So, everyone best stay on their toes.  Competition is alive and well in the mobile market regardless of the state RIM, Nokia, or HP is in.  And for us mobile warriors, competition is awesome!

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