Research In Motion was once the company that all others compared themselves to in the mobile space. RIM was the firm that understood how to appeal to enterprise users, found a way to target consumers through the office and, along the way, dramatically improved the way in which those customers interacted with their smartphones. Without RIMs lessons, it might have been extremely difficult for Apple to have delivered the iPhone.
But unfortunately for RIM, Apple did deliver the iPhone. And now, Apples smartphone, as well as Android-based handsets, is dominating the mobile space. RIM, meanwhile, is left to hope that it can turn things around with its upcoming software launch, BlackBerry 10. That operating system, RIM says, will carry the company well into the next several years.
Although its hard to know exactly what BlackBerry 10 will look like or what features it will ship with, RIM does plan to provide prototypes to developers in May. This likely paves the way for a launch later this year. But for that operating system and the devices running it to be successful, several things must first fall into place.
1. A solid design
Want to know the secret to Apples success? Design. The company knows how to build software and hardware that people want to useand show off to others. RIM, meanwhile, doesnt do anything of the sort. For BlackBerry 10 to be successful, it must work well and be stylish, and run on devices that deliver the same feel.
2. Big displays
RIM has historically made the odd decision to offer up devices that come with very, very small displays. The Torch and Storm2 are the only exceptions to that rule. With BlackBerry 10 devices, RIM must forgo the past and deliver devices with big displays. At this point, a 4.3-inch screen should be the companys minimum display offering.
3. Ditch the physical keyboard
As much as RIM executives dont want to believe it, the physical keyboard is a major issue for consumers and enterprise users who are considering buying new devices. The physical keyboard is a relic of the past and something that most customers dont want any longer. And yet, RIM continues to deliver it. With BlackBerry 10, RIM must wake up and realize that its going about the mobile space all wrong.
4. Responsive software
One of the biggest issues with RIMs BlackBerry 7 is that it lacks the kind of responsiveness found in Apple iOS. Like it or not, RIMs BlackBerry operating system cannot match Apples platform, and unless BlackBerry 10 achieves that feat, expect RIM to continue to slide in the mobile space. BlackBerry 10 is a make-or-break offering for the mobile firm.
Developers Are a Must
5. Developers must sign up
One of the biggest issues with RIMs BlackBerry operating system is that it lacks adequate developer support. For now, third-party vendors are content to develop apps for Android and Apple iOS and leave BlackBerry OS out in the cold. If RIM wants to make BlackBerry 10 a success, itll need to change thator else.
6. A familiar experienceto Android and iOS users
Going from BlackBerry OS to Android or iOS is a groundbreaking moment, for sure. Apples operating system is fresh, fun and intuitive; the same might be said for Android. RIMs operating system, meanwhile, harkens back to the old days and leaves many customers befuddled when they first break it out of the box. Its time for RIM to offer up in BlackBerry 10 a familiar experience to Android and iOS users.
7. A launch that comes sooner rather than later
There was some talk that BlackBerry 10 would make an appearance at the end of 2011. But right around when RIM was supposed to launch the software, the company announced the launch would come later this year. Thats an issue. The longer RIMs current devices sit on store shelves, the less likely theyll be able to attract new customers. BlackBerry 10 must launch sooner rather than later.
8. Think about the PlayBook
RIMs BlackBerry PlayBook is still on store shelves, despite selling a relatively small number of units since its launch last year. Although the PlayBook comes with its share of flaws, RIM says itll eventually bring BlackBerry 10 to the tablet. Its a smart idea. Like Apple, RIM must offer the same experience on all of its mobile devices. To not do that would be a huge mistake.
9. Remember pricing
Looking around the mobile space, one will quickly find that BlackBerry devices are somewhat expensive. The BlackBerry Bold, for example, is available for $200 on AT&Ts servicethe same price as the iPhone 4S. When RIM launches BlackBerry 10, it must find a way to get carriers to reduce the price on its new offerings. RIM cant survive at the same price as the iPhoneand its about time everyone understands that.
10. A new way for executives to think
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, RIM must not allow its old ideas to seep through into BlackBerry 10. Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie didnt know how to address RIMs troubles, and the company faltered. Now, Thorsten Heins says he plans to follow much of the same strategy. Its a mistake. RIMs board needs to persuade its executives to rethink their strategies. To not do so could be disastrous for the mobile firm.