BlackBerry Business Users Face Difficult Options if RIM Fails

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-04-01 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: According to RIM, there are 77 million subscribers to BlackBerry services, but if RIM ultimately fails, what happens to them? For many long-time BlackBerry business users, the alternatives are not necessarily that attractive.

My BlackBerry Bold 9900 has been buzzing since the earliest hours this morning, and it€™s continued to buzz with news of Research in Motion€™s stunningly steep decline. As I write this, the device rests in my shirt pocket and continues to buzz.

The news from RIM is sobering at the very least. In a call with analysts during the evening of March 29, CEO Thorsten Heins said that sales were off more than 20 percent€”much worse than analysts had predicted. Heins also announced the departure of former co-CEO Jim Balsillie, CTO David Tach and COO Jim Rowan.

In a sudden purge, Heins has cleared the executive suite of the source of some of RIM€™s problems. Unfortunately, RIM€™s problems go far beyond the three people who got the ax March 29. RIM€™s fundamental problems are twofold. The first is the failure to innovate, and the second is the failure to understand their markets. Added to this mix should be a secondary problem, which is failure to execute. These are serious problems for any organization, but in a market as competitive as the smartphone business, they could be fatal.

RIM makes wonderful email and messaging devices. This is why I persuaded the folks at eWEEK to buy my first BlackBerry Curve back in the days when I was an employee. Since then, as I€™ve built my business, I€™ve continued to depend on those features. But the world of smartphones has grown far beyond email and messaging. Today, the best smartphones have beautifully designed touch-screens, can handle a wide variety of media and content effortlessly, have thoughtfully designed interfaces with (sometimes) superb ergonomics, and they do e-mail. The BlackBerry has a nice touch-screen.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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