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.
Keeping the Best of the BlackBerry Brand Identity
5. Remember other carriers
Just because the iPhone is available to AT&T, it doesn’t mean that RIM should follow a similar strategy with the BlackBerry Storm 2. The more carriers it can place its products with, the better. One of the iPhone’s main issues is that it’s not available to those who don’t want to use AT&T’s network. RIM has standing partnerships with other carriers. It needs to capitalize on those for the sake of its battle against Apple and the iPhone.
6. Get on with the marketing
One of the reasons why the iPhone has been so successful is because Apple’s iPhone ads have been so successful. They’re simple, they’re elegant, they’re entertaining and they convey a clear message: “Buy the iPhone because it’s cool and it does a lot of stuff.” RIM hasn’t done enough to promote its products. Sure, it advertises for major sporting events and sponsors shows, but we need to see a commercial showing off all the wonders of the BlackBerry Storm 2.
7. Stay true to the enterprise
RIM’s Trojan horse could very well be the enterprise. Since the company is so entrenched in the corporate world, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t try to capitalize on that with the BlackBerry Storm 2. Companies are coming around to the thought of owning touch screen mobile phones, and what better way to satisfy that desire than with a BlackBerry? RIM has an opportunity through its prior success that it shouldn’t lose sight of.
8. Limit mistakes
As the BlackBerry Storm 2 enters the wild and more users start playing with it, undoubtedly some issues will arise. But instead of making all the mistakes Palm in regard to the Pre’s troubles, RIM needs to make a concerted effort to be proactive and responsive to customer concerns. A company that shows it cares about a customer is more likely to keep that customer.
9. Keep the BlackBerry BlackBerry
Although RIM obviously has its sights set on the iPhone, it can’t forget what the company is all about. Although the BlackBerry Storm 2 has a touch screen, it shouldn’t want to be the iPhone. Instead, RIM needs to ensure that even with the new technology, a BlackBerry is still a BlackBerry. It’s extremely important. When users pick up the Storm 2 at the store, they’re still expecting the overall BlackBerry experience. That’s RIM’s hook. And it can’t lose it.
10. Realize the iPhone’s limitations
Just because the iPhone is the leader in the market doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. It’s far from it. RIM needs to acknowledge that and ensure that the features it builds into its phones in the future improve upon the iPhone’s limitations. There’s little chance that the BlackBerry will have 85,000 applications any time soon, but it can have a better virtual keyboard.
The iPhone is great, but it’s not a guaranteed success in the marketplace. RIM needs to remember that.