10 Things RIM Must Do to Compete with Apple iPhone

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-15 Print this article Print

News Analysis: As RIM prepares the public for the BlackBerry Storm 2, it's important for the company to remember that it's still battling it out with Apple and its iPhone. And if RIM does a lot of things right, it might have a shot at beating the iPhone at its own game. To succeed, RIM has to make major improvements to its software and applications store while remaining true to the BlackBerry's established brand identity.

Now that Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm 2 has officially been announced, the hype is already starting. Some are saying it's the touch-enabled BlackBerry that RIM should have released in the first place. Others are saying it will be the lead contender to take on the iPhone.

The reality is, we just don't know if the BlackBerry Storm 2 is viable iPhone competition yet. Much the same was being said when RIM released the original BlackBerry Storm. But with an unfortunate tactile-feedback feature and poor software, it never gained consumer allure in the marketplace.

Perhaps that's why I believe that RIM needs to do much more if it wants to take on the iPhone and become a major competitor to Apple in that space. Releasing a nice device is step one, but there are many steps that RIM has yet to take. The company has a lot of work ahead of it if it wants to take on the iPhone.

This is what it needs to do:

1. Release better products

Although several people are already saying the BlackBerry Storm 2 is what the original Storm should have been, we'll need to wait and see if it's really as good as some folks say. The reality is, RIM needs better phones. The iPhone sets the pace in the mobile phone market and, so far, RIM has been far behind. The Storm 2 might be a first step in the right direction, but more high-quality phones are needed.

2. A bigger app store

When compared with Apple's App Store, RIM's BlackBerry App World is very much an also-ran. The app store features just a few thousand applications, compared with Apple's more than 85,000 apps. The number of apps available to BlackBerry owners doesn't even compare to the sheer amount of content available to iPhone owners. If RIM really wants to make a push to beat Apple, it needs to do a better job of attracting developers.

3. Better software, please?

As nice as the BlackBerry Storm 2's touch screen might be, it won't mean much if RIM doesn't do a better job of improving its software. Currently, RIM's BlackBerry software isn't as robust as the iPhone's. It lacks several "cool" features, it's not as responsive and, based on my time with it, the phone doesn't provide a viable experience. RIM needs to focus more of its efforts on software design.

4. Remember consumers

Although I realize that RIM is a company that targets the enterprise, it can't forget about consumers as it tries to beat the iPhone. Apple has done a fine job of showing consumers why its product should be the most coveted. Now, RIM must do the same. It won't be easy, but if RIM really wants to beat the iPhone, it needs to start targeting consumers more effectively.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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