That Research In Motion is facing some serious trouble is not news. For the last couple of years, the world has watched RIM’s market share evaporate and with it, the company’s stock price has plummeted.
Meanwhile, RIM’s perceived value to customers has diminished as Apple and Samsung offer up products that, in one way or another, make the BlackBerry look obsolete. From software to hardware, it’s hard to find any way that RIM is actually in the lead.
Things have recently become worse as RIM’s revenue and profits have fallen. That was followed by news that RIM lost an arbitration hearing with Nokia, another embattled mobile firm, which is asking courts in Canada and the UK to ban the sale of RIM products if it doesn’t reach a new licensing agreement for Nokia-owned patents. With BlackBerry 10 unlikely to launch until late-January, the times couldn’t be worse for RIM.
But luckily for the BlackBerry maker, it doesn’t yet need to sound the alarms and come up with a major strategic shift to turn things around. Although RIM is in trouble, there’s still time to address its issues and improve its chances of success.
These are the things that RIM should do to try to turn around its business before it’s too late.
1. Forget physical keyboards
It’s hard to believe that at the end of 2012, five years after Apple launched its touch screen-equipped iPhone, physical keyboards are the standard on RIM mobile phones. From the Bold to the Curve and even the Torch, RIM has bundled physical keys into its products. That has to change. Today’s consumers are happy with, and expect, virtual keyboards. Failure to provide virtual keyboards on at least some models would be a major mistake on RIM’s part.
2. Get rid of Thorsten Heins
Thorsten Heins has yet to prove—months after his appointment as CEO, no less—that he actually knows what he’s doing at RIM. So far, Heins has only shown a desire to maintain status quo and hope for the best. Status quo won’t work. Heins needs to be replaced by someone who has a clear understanding of the changing mobile space and is willing to dramatically modify its operation.
3. License the software
With BlackBerry 10 right around the corner, now would be the perfect time for RIM to license the software. There’s no way for RIM to beat Apple on its own, and the only way to score some mobile operating system market share is to get some help from other hardware vendors. Believe it or not, BlackBerry OS still has some redeeming qualities and vendors might like to use it. Why not license it and get more BlackBerry-equipped devices on store shelves?
4. Leverage patents
One of RIM’s best opportunities is its patent portfolio. Since its inception, the company has been racking up patents at an astounding rate and now, has many that just about every other company in the mobile space needs. So, why not start licensing some of those patents? According to reports, many companies have considered inking deals with RIM. Perhaps the company should oblige.