RIM's Long-Term Survival Is at Risk: 10 Things That Are Killing It

News Analysis: Research In Motion is eyeing layoffs as a way to improve profits. But that is just a band-aid cure for the competitive and management challenges that threaten RIM's long-term survival in the mobile market.

Research In Motion is in trouble. The company announced on July 25 that it plans to lay off 2,000 people as it tries to find ways to reinvent itself as the mobile marketplace changes around it.

Although those layoffs should indicate to folks that RIM is experiencing some of the worst troubles of its long and storied history, the company has pointed to its revenue, profits and billions in cash on hand to reassure investors that everything is fine. Its executives say that after its layoffs are complete and it can finally get down to a size that's more manageable, its financial performance will start soaring once again.

But that's a red herring. RIM's troubles go far beyond how much the company is spending. BlackBerry smartphones are no longer as appealing to corporate customers as they once were, consumers don't want anything to do with RIM products, and the PlayBook tablet has been a disappointment.There is a host of issues going on at RIM right now that are killing the company.

Read on to find out what they are:

1. The co-CEO issue

For years, RIM has done well under the leadership of co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. But that relationship has broken down, and now, the time has come for RIM to choose a single chief executive to run its firm. When things are going well, it's easy for two leaders to agree. But when times are tough, a consensus is tougher to reach. It's why most other companies have only one CEO. And it's why RIM's current decision to have two CEOs is a liability.

2. Smartphone design

When one looks around the mobile market, they will find a host of well-designed smartphones. Devices like Apple's iPhone 4, the Samsung Galaxy S II and many others appeal to customers on a number of levels. But BlackBerry designs do not. For the most part, BlackBerry smartphones have small screens, stick with the outdated physical keyboard and fail to deliver the sleek look of competitors. That has hurt RIM in the consumer space.

3. A victim of its own success

Even though RIM is in trouble, the company has been a huge success over the years due mainly to the enterprise. But now that companies are thinking twice about deploying BlackBerry devices, RIM is trying to make a name for itself in the consumer market. The only issue is that it doesn't necessarily know what it's doing in that space. Although RIM has always competed in the consumer space, that market hasn't really been a priority. Now that it's trying harder with consumers, RIM is having trouble understanding what it takes to be a success in that space. And unless it can turn things around, it might just be forgotten altogether by consumers.

4. Perception is everything

One major reason for RIM's troubles in the consumer market is related to customer perception. As noted, RIM has performed most effectively in the enterprise market, and consumers know that. They perceive RIM to be an enterprise smartphone maker, not a consumer handset vendor. So when they set out to buy a new smartphone for personal use, consumers don't even consider the BlackBerry because of their belief that a respective RIM device is designed for companies and not them. Until RIM can change that, the company is in for trouble.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...