BlackBerry Business Users Face Difficult Options if RIM Fails

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

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...