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Blackberry Businesses The Almighty Buck

The (Big) Problem With RIM 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the rim-can't-get-an-edge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Research in Motion, by all accounts, had a terrible week. But things might get even worse. The Canadian technology company posted dismal quarterly earnings numbers, missing revenue and sales targets, while margins continued to shrink. Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis conceded the PlayBook had been thwarted by a lack of apps and content, not necessarily by a weak platform. Like Apple with its iOS, and Microsoft with Windows, creating a successful platform will be dependent on the eco-system it supports, but RIM hasn't shown ability to foster that." Speculation has begun as to whether or not RIM will wind up having a PlayBook firesale in the same vein as the TouchPad.
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The (Big) Problem With RIM

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  • Market fragmentation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ge7 (2194648) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:15AM (#37433166)
    RIM's problem is basically same as Nokia's was - their platforms eco-system is practically dead. You cannot find any of the apps or games you want on them. I don't use my phone (old Windows Mobile 6.2) much so I haven't needed that many apps on it, but on those few times that I have had a need for something, it really sucks when the apps are only available for the big three - iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. This is true for even such known programs as Skype (I actually did find some old WM6.2 Skype version, but the voice quality sucks with that version).

    Where RIM is failing here again is just trying to get their own system out. There's just too many platforms. Hell, even on PC's most companies only make their products available for Windows and maybe OS X. They cannot compete with iOS at this point, and while a little bit better, Android has the same kind of fragmentation problems (though to a lesser degree). In my opinion RIM should go with Windows Phone 7. As RIM is mostly used by business people, they would even get Office and Exchange directly to it. Perfect for businesses.
    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:23AM (#37433182) Homepage

      If anything, it's the PC market all over again...

      You have Apple, the premium vendor providing a consistent platform...
      You have Android like windows, the cheaper option but runs on vastly more hardware and anyone can put it on their hardware...
      And then you have RIM and HP who represent the likes of Commodore and Atari, they also provide a consistent platform like Apple, but don't have the mindshare to attract third party developers.

      Windows phone 7 would be a very poor choice for RIM at the moment, not only is the current version very much consumer oriented, but they would not really be able to provide much value-add on such a platform... Why buy RIM if you can go to any of the other windows phone 7 vendors? Android might be a better bet for them, as they can customise it heavily and run their own platform on top (or they could offer a pure software stack for use on other vendors phones). They could run their corporate email software in a sandbox isolated from the rest of the phone...

      • by gander666 (723553) *

        Sigh, I was a huge Atari fan back in the day. Great systems. I ran a BBS, I have 8" floppy drives (more data) and lots of fun, interesting hardware. I miss those systems.

        Good observations though.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        And then you have RIM and HP who represent the likes of Commodore and Atari, they also provide a consistent platform like Apple, but don't have the mindshare to attract third party developers.

        I assume you were referring to the 16/32-bit Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, as that would be the most likely in this context.

        Actually, those formats were very successful as gamer and hobbyist machines in Europe from the mid-80s until the early 1990s, and were well-supported by games developers (if less so in a business context). A lot of US-centric commentators assume that because they didn't do much over there that the formats were a total flop- not so.

        Similarly, I've seen cases with more recent technol

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Exactly, and RIM are doing quite well in business and at least in some countries, among schoolkids (blackberry messenger is free, sms is not)...
          HP are also having a last gasp due to their fire sale prices.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I assume you were referring to the 16/32-bit Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, as that would be the most likely in this context.

          Actually, those formats were very successful as gamer and hobbyist machines in Europe from the mid-80s until the early 1990s, and were well-supported by games developers (if less so in a business context). A lot of US-centric commentators assume that because they didn't do much over there that the formats were a total flop- not so.

          I was an Amigan back in the day, but seriously, where are they now? Yeah, a joke that's been handed off again and again that statistically nobody cares about. But those other guys are still around, still themselves, and mostly still doing what they were doing when C= was trying to compete with them.

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            I was an Amigan back in the day, but seriously, where are they now?

            Obviously no-one but a rabid fanboy would dispute the Amiga has been dead in terms of mainstream support for at least 15 years.

            But that wasn't the point being argued- it was that the ST and Amiga were like Blackberry's tablets and WebOS in that they "[didn't] have the mindshare to attract third party developers". Which is blatantly incorrect- unlike their alleged modern counterparts, they most certainly *did* enjoy the support of third party developers for a number of years, in Europe at least.

            How many

            • by shmlco (594907)

              "Which is blatantly incorrect- unlike their alleged modern counterparts, they most certainly *did* enjoy the support of third party developers for a number of years, in Europe at least."

              DOS. Windows. MacOS. Linux. ... Amiga OS. It's not that they didn't "enjoy the support of ANY third party developers. It's just that the numbers -- in terms of mind and marketshare, and compared to its competition -- were insignificant. Couple with the fact that they didn't enjoy the support of any of the major developers (M

          • And once again the owners of the Amiga platform fucked up. That would have been the ideal platform for modern tablet and phones, but they missed it.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        You have Android like windows,

        It is similar in that respect, but remember how PCs got to that point - a much different road!

        There was no intention to make the PC an "open" platform. The PC was the IBM PC, and they were just as closed as Apple. They had a better name within business, but Atari and Commodore got started when ALL computers were closed. When Compaq created the first PC clone and then won the resulting lawsuit, it opened the floodgates to PC clones and forcibly "opened" the platform.

        Android, on the other hand, started open f

        • by shmlco (594907)

          " I don't think the cell phone market is very analagous to the PC market. Concisely: There was no "open" platform in the PC wars."

          The fact -- and to what degree -- Android is "open" doesn't matter. Like DOS and Windows, Android is the "bundled" OS pushed by the majority of carriers and vendors, used and reused across a wide variety of mostly commodity phones (PCs). Not to mention that developers can write software for it just as easily as they could write software for DOS and Windows.

          And with Google lobbyin

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            The fact -- and to what degree -- Android is "open" doesn't matter.

            I completely disagree. The fact that it is open means it can be more completely customized. That means someone like HTC can theoretically provide a user experience similar to that of Apple without spending the R&D money to build their own OS.

            What good is an "open" platform to a vendor if it can't be customized? It just becomes even more of a commodity.

            That is an exceptionally good point.

            I would also point out that the whole Android ecosystem could be undone by a loss of patent lawsuits by Google or the Android vendors. If the amount they have to pay for license fees starts to approach the cost of a home-grown sys

            • by shmlco (594907)

              The fact the they could theoretically provide a better user experience is irrelevant if Google won't let them do so. In fact Google's actively pressuring vendors to do otherwise by withholding Marketplace access or by not allowing them to bundle Google apps like Mail and Maps if they don't follow the rules.

              HTC could tell them to stick it and use Android to base their own system, but without the above integration what you end up with isn't really an "Android" phone, now is it? Actually, you sort of end up wi

        • by wumpus188 (657540)

          The PC was the IBM PC, and they were just as closed as Apple.

          Are you aware that first IBM PCs included commented BIOS assembly source along with their documentation?

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Big three? Window Phone 7?

    • by Tapewolf (1639955) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:30AM (#37433210)

      RIM's real problem - the reason there are no apps for their next-gen platform - is that they still haven't released a proper SDK for it AFAIK. They promised the ability to write native apps, Blackberry apps, and Android apps in such a way that they could be run on the Playbook, and to the best of my knowledge the Blackberry and Android layers still don't work and the Native SDK is still a month away in exactly the same way that fusion is 20 years away.

      Unless things have changed very recently, the only way to make a Playbook application is in Adobe AIR which is really helpful if you're trying to port a C library from Android, Java code from Android, or port your old Blackberry application (if you were masochistic enough to write one).

      Last I saw, a lot of the forum posts seemed to be along the lines of:
      "Where can I get the NDK?"
      "It's in private beta, uh, you can't have it."
      "Oh. [disappears from the forum]"

      • by goose-incarnated (1145029) <lelanthran@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:52AM (#37433308) Homepage Journal
        If I had mod points, you'd get it. Until there was pressure from iOS and Android, both RIM and MS treated their mobile devs like crap. Which I find confusing, 'cos Apple also treats their iOS devs like crap (not much different from the way they treat their users, come to think of it :-)), but it seems that Apple is better at creating Stockholm Syndrome than RIM was.

        If you were to group the most successful companies, you'd find that a healthy percentage of those companies rely on Stockholm Syndrome with both their customers and their partners to stay in business.
      • by Matheus (586080)

        Add to that the fact they still seem to think they know better than anyone else, even though they are clearly losing.

        Prime example: My BB Torch. Honestly, from a hardware standpoint, I love it. It's well built. It gives me the option of the hardware keyboard well concealed and it built like a tank (I've chucked it across a room more than a few times, sometimes just to show my friends how well built it is) BUT when it comes to the OS it's like they completely ignored all of the lessons learned by the like

        • by shmlco (594907) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:48AM (#37434186) Homepage

          "They need to get humble and quick then let what they do well (corporate integration, great hardware, etc) shine through."

          RIM has one and only one crown jewel: They've got a great secure messaging platform.

          In my estimation they need to write apps and put that messaging system it on iOS, on Android, and on Windows Phone 7. Charge a fair monthly access fee. Unlike some other "messaging" apps, they've got the name, they've got the business reputation, they've got the security, they can integrate with the existing BB platform, and they can do it cross-platform.

          They've lost the hardware wars. Time to go with their strengths.

      • by Toth (36602)

        I applied for their Beta program for the Playbook SDK and received the reply below a couple weeks later;
        Our company uses several custom-developed applications on several hundred blackberries. We have five professional software developers and a couple dozen amateur hacker-geeks. The Playbook's technical capabilities blows away any other tablet but is currently useless as a business tool. A company with a BES server could implement Playbooks tomorrow with very little concern about security IF there were ap

    • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:39AM (#37433250) Homepage

      On the face it your idea has merit, but I don't think RIM will do it, more to the point I'm sure they can do it and remain viable. RIM has always been Blackberry. They made their fortune off of being *the* real smartphone vendor that enterprise took seriously. They designed everything from the ground up and built a system that businesses were willing to pay big bucks for. Then the iPhone came out, and they sat there, sure that nothing could challenge their business dominance (who cares about consumer phones anyway?). Then Android came out and they still did nothing. Then iPhone got enterprise integration and they started to look a little worried and came out with a few new phones... Now two thirds of the people in my office (of a major multinational mind) have turned in their company issued Blackberries and use their personal iPhone or Android device.

      What can they do by switching to Windows 7? Become another player fighting for the tiny little pieces of the pie? That won't support a company like RIM. This isn't HTC, they aren't used to surviving on razor thin hardware margins. They're used to naming their price and having big businesses beg them to sell more. In the unlikely event that they could even make the switch, it would be a much smaller and less important company on the other end. Until something major changes, their are exactly two winner in cell phones right now. Google and Apple. Google's partners are in a race to the bottom, and Microsoft hasn't had any significant success. At best MS will become a third "winner" with their partners fighting the same losing battle as Google's are fighting now.

      Until a serious game changing event rolls along, the only real question in the phone market right now is whether Microsoft can carve out a niche of its own.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        The thing is, RIM had plenty of notice of these things happening. Microsoft were in the process of making EAS a viable alternative to BES a few years before the launch of the iPhone; it was only a matter of time before someone produced a half-decent phone that integrated with EAS and then RIM would have real competition on their hands.

      • by sjames (1099)

        I was going to name a couple things RIM could do, but then thought for a moment. They couldn't figure out that people might want email on a pad device, so they won't do any of the sensible options. They really have gotten the attitude of "We're Blackberry, of course you'll throw money at us". There can be no recovery from that.

        If they weren't that screwed up, I would say that they might win by adding and Android box that looks like any other android but allow their native secured business friendly apps to o

    • No, RIM's real problem is that their upper management doesn't understand their market. The reason the Playbook failed wasn't the lack of apps, it was because they insisted on tethering it to a Blackberry for basic functions like e-mail to work. They tried for lock-in, and they failed, because the market doesn't want a device that's basically useless unless you have this other device from the same company, so they ended up buying something like an iPad, which costs the same and doesn't have that limitation.

      • by sarhjinian (94086)

        If you've used a PlayBook, you'll note that the real problem isnt that you need a BB to do email, its that even if you have a BB phone, the PlayBook (specifically the bridge function to the phone) is slow and glitchy. Its faster to just use the phone because at least then you get autocorrect, the ability view attachments in under half an hour, and decent inteface speed.

        The impression i got with the PlayBook is that, unlike apple, where you can tell that Jobs et al take a serious interest in the developmen

      • by shmlco (594907)

        "The reason the Playbook failed wasn't the lack of apps, it was because they insisted on tethering it to a Blackberry for basic functions like e-mail to work. They tried for lock-in, and they failed..."

        From what I've heard, the tethering was more do to the fact that their entire system is setup in such a way that one and only one BB cab access a BB account. Allowing multiple devices to access the same account impacts security, not to mention the various synchronization issues involved.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Whatever the reason for this, they need to make it work. People don't care about the technological reason for why it can't work. Even if it required moving a hardware card/dongle from the phone to the tablet, it should have been made to work. Instead of making a "Play" book, they should have made a "work" book, as much of their reputation and market was based around business usage. A RIM device that cannot send email though the blackberry service is all but useless. I think the only reason they really d
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:17AM (#37433398) Homepage

      it really sucks when the apps are only available for the big three - iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7.

      I don't believe that's really the root problem here. That's a problem, but it's not *the* problem.

      The *big* problem with RIM is that they stink. The hardware on the phones aren't bad, but almost everything else about them is. The interface-- well, can we just admit that Apple came along and ate everyone else's lunch in the cell phone industry? Can we just start by admitting that? The industry was stagnant and producing awful little phones with awful interfaces, and it's not until Apple showed that they were going to take over that everyone else responded by making better platforms. Android and Windows 7 are a response to Apple disrupting the entire industry, and somehow RIM failed to respond-- probably because they thought they were immune.

      But now back to the interface, the blackberry interface is basically lipstick on a pig. On my blackberry, which is less than a year old, it feels like I'm running a 10 year old interface with a new skin. The graphics are smooth and there are kind of some fancy transitions and stuff; I'm not complaining about a lack of eye candy. I'm saying the design of the user interaction is extremely dated and stupid, and that was after they overhauled it.

      The behind-the-scenes stuff stinks too. I support a lot of Blackberries, and they're constantly having random stupid problems where someone stops getting their mail or they get duplicates, and that's while using their touted BES stuff. It's junk. It breaks constantly. ActiveSync provides more stable results.

      I'm not so sure about your suggestion to use Windows 7. It may be their best choice, but it's not a great choice. RIM is essentially headed down the same road as Palm at this point. They were huge, they sat on their hands and watched the world move on, they're probably going to try to become another hardware vendor with a commodity OS, but that makes them just another one of many hardware vendors with the same OS, and it's not clear they'll compete well. On top of that, it's not entirely clear to me that Windows phone 7 itself is doing very well. Sure, Microsoft will keep making it, but can RIM make money selling it?

      The hour is later than you think, and RIM probably doesn't have any winning strategy here. Their best option may be to hope they can sell to someone who wants something about their intellectual property or their supply chain. But who would buy them? HP is out. I doubt Apple cares. I don't think Microsoft would be interested.

      • Android is a response to Apple, Windows Phone is an attempt to clone the success Apple had in the past.

        • You got the sequence of event wrong, Android was announce before the iPhone on november 2007 and the iPhone was announced on January 2007.

          However the first Android phone was on the market way after the iPhone but you had access to the android dev board way before you had access to the iphone if you were int the right group.

          Windows Mobile was there way before both of them, it was a real smartphone with a sucky default ui. WinMo 4,5,6 was a nice platform for research as you could replace everything in the pho

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        The interface-- well, can we just admit that Apple came along and ate everyone else's lunch in the cell phone industry?

        - they have a somewhat interesting interface, but I am not going to say that their interface is what I want.

        I use Nokia 6303c [samsungnokia.com] - that's all I want in a phone and I took the camera out as well and disabled all feature that are not the phone itself.

        You give me a phone that has no numeric pad, and you'll see how quickly it ends up in the closest river.

        • I'm not saying it's the interface that you want, but rather that the iPhone, along with it's interface and it's UI design, destroyed the phone industry as existed before. Apple was so wildly successful that they forced the rest of the industry to reinvent itself. Can we admit to that?
        • by shmlco (594907)

          "You give me a phone that has no numeric pad, and you'll see how quickly it ends up in the closest river."

          Ah. Buttons. How quaint...

      • by sunfly (1248694)

        Dead on analysis, and why both CEO's need fired. Hell, any company that has 2 CEO's should fire the board.

        The answer to your last question is Google. They are the only ones with enough cash, and are desperate for IP. Don't worry, they won't check to see if the IP is even relative to today's market before they hand over a check.

      • by mounthood (993037)

        If they use android (for the apps) and build enterprise management they could hang on for a bit. Enterprises would be able to issue Android phones and still retain control for legal issues, etc... Quality would be an issue but they could leverage their existing clients. If they fail at that, they could then go to Apple/Google/MS and beg them to integrate their products with a RIM enterprise management system - for a tiny margin.

        The hour is later than you think, and RIM probably doesn't have any winning strategy here.

        But when should we short them? That's what I want to know.

    • by zyzko (6739)

      RIM's problem is basically same as Nokia's was - their platforms eco-system is practically dead.

      It is now because everyone is jumping ship from Symbian because Nokia efectively EOLd it. But before it was quite alive - yes the first Software market was cumbersome, and Ovi store just started working right when the Elop and axe came. But even before app store was a glimmer in Steve's eyes people were quite succesfull developing and distributing Symbian apps were it's market share was high (read: Europe). It was just so shiny and polished but nobody had that at the time. I don't know if you look at things

  • I have always been a Nokia person, and after the announcement of WP7 I was looking at RIM to get out a phone with QNX soon enough.
    Alas, no sign of such thing, so I guess I'll bite the bullet and get an N9, and keep it as long as possible.

  • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:25AM (#37433190)

    I had a curve 8330 and predicted this years ago.
    They had a funny policy of only releasing security fixes for their OS, meanwhile leaving out features that should have been in it from the beginning.
    Simple things like being able to autosplit text messages, it couldn't do, simply capped you at 160 characters.
    Or even being able to adjust the vibrate functionality on a text message notification to buzz once for half a second, had to buy an app for that. Shortest vibrate was 2x 1 second vibrations. Very annoying. Oh, and it couldn't vibrate and ring at the same time for a call. It would start the ringtone and in 5 seconds start the vibrate and kill the ringtone, then just continue vibrating for the duration of the call. Had to buy an app to fix that too.

    I don't recall the rest of what they left out. I remember there were at least like 4 things that the OS desperately needed but that they wouldn't put in.

    I believe their reasoning was "that way they'll buy the next phone hoping it's better with its newer OS", forgetting the part where if your current customer is annoyed with you, the last thing they're going to do is go buy something else from you. So then I got an android...

  • News at 11? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:26AM (#37433198) Journal

    Like Palm, these people squandered a multi-year lead. They had a lock on a wonderful customer base and supplied the dominant smartphone-precursor device to the world, and failed to follow up on through an inability to execute. What happened to the original scrappy, farsighted RIM, that created the Blackberry platform to begin with? Gone - eaten up in the ugly process of becoming a large incumbent business. Now they live on inertia, and their management can't execute their way out of a paper bag. An old story, and a common one.

    It has been obvious for many months that RIM was a dead letter - not just behind in the race but lapped many times by multiple competitors. I mean, the Playbook? Really? If you weren't short RIM, sue your broker.

    • Re:News at 11? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:24AM (#37433424)

      Only months?

      I would say it was obvious from the moment Exchange 2003 SP2 (which introduced Exchange ActiveSync 2.5) was released that Microsoft were serious in driving out BES. Once companies started to license Exchange ActiveSync, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before the need to go out and buy a separate system to manage smartphones was eliminated.

      The thing is, Exchange 2k3 SP2 was released in 2005. ISTR that few people really took alternative smartphones seriously until the iPhone; a few people bought Windows Mobile devices but by and large these were a fairly dismal failure. The iPhone wasn't released until the middle of 2007, didn't gain ActiveSync support until iOS 2.0 in 2008 and didn't really take off until the 3G model was released, also in 2008.

      Which means that RIM had three whole years to come up with some other idea. They didn't.

      • by swb (14022)

        a few people bought Windows Mobile devices but by and large these were a fairly dismal failure.

        I think that depended on where you were in terms of business size.

        I think big businesses probably weren't interested in jumping off, either from a we've-just-figured-this-out perspective or because they had a bunch of money pumped into a BES/Blackberry infrastructure (devices, BES servers, BES software, licenses, etc).

        At the small-business level, I think ActiveSync and WinMobile gained a lot of traction in a short

  • I think a firesale of the playbook would be the best option. Sell it at a loss, think of it as an investment.

    If enough people have enough of them in hand, the app ecosystem starts moving forward. Also relax the 'RIM is for serious people' attitude of the app ecosystem - if I want to upload a "fart app" let me. More apps means more interest.

  • by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:33AM (#37433224)

    From the "Firesale" article: "Keep in mind that these prices are in Canadian dollars" - check the exchange rate, 1USD buys you about 98 cents Canadian. The US dollar is now less valuable than the Canadian dollar. I got the impression the author is still assuming the opposite is true.

  • I probably won't be buying this anyway.
    • by dreamt (14798) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:50AM (#37433534)

      Right. It made sense to buy the Touchpad at fire-sale prices because it was good hardware, had a good web browser, good email and some decent apps. On the other hand, the Playbook doesn't even have a built-in email application that doesn't require tethering to a Blackberry, meaning its pretty much useless as a couch device, and the apps just plain suck.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:35AM (#37433230)

    1) Perception: With RIM failing to release a touch screen device at most a few months after the iPhone, they were perceived as a dinosaur in making, especially by the young folks. Google did it with HTC and nobody can say it's been a liability to them.

    2) Pride: Whenever one would ask them about the looming competition from iOS & Android, they would quickly dismiss those concerns with statements pointing to their 'solid' financial positions at the time. Little did they acknowledge that it would be a matter of time before iOS and Android started to 'eat their lunch', after-all these platforms were not static when it came to development.

    3) Strategic vision, or the lack of it: A competent CEO would have [quietly] used the available Android code at the time to develop a 'mock device' for defensive purposes using internal resources. RIM did not. During times like these, they would simply 'out' a mock Android device and the market would probably play along.

    4) Being Canadian: This characteristic is proving to be disadvantageous. The same thing happened to NORTEL, a once successful company in its field. Ever wondered why Canada is the only industrialized company without a car synonymous with it? Heck, even once communist Russia still has Lada.

    • by ivoras (455934)

      In short, RIM was a one trick pony and refused to change, just like Nokia. They did it to themselves.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      4) Being Canadian: This characteristic is proving to be disadvantageous. The same thing happened to NORTEL, a once successful company in its field. Ever wondered why Canada is the only industrialized company without a car synonymous with it? Heck, even once communist Russia still has Lada.

      I agree with your other points, but I think having a automotive industry associated with a country isn't always a good idea. And it is not true that all industrialized countries have a car associated with them. Australia had Holden, but that got gobbled up by GM.

      In Canada's case, there is simply no strategic advantage to having a home-grown car industry. It's right next to the U.S. It doesn't have a large enough domestic market to support a car industry without heavy tariffs on car imports from the U.S. and

    • by dreamt (14798)

      Not only that, but when they released a touchscreen device, it was terrible. I'm a software developer and I couldn't figure out how to use the Storm. I hit a button and a the camera appeared in the middle of the (awful) web browser. It was atrocious. I picked up an iPhone and had everything working in like 5 minutes.

    • by fermion (181285) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @02:12PM (#37434882) Homepage Journal
      RIM let users do things that no one else could do. RIM gave corporate the control necessary for due diligence and CYA. There is always money to be made in providing products that no one else really makes.

      When one thinks of RIM on thinks of efficient email and the best keyboard in the industry. This was the strengths. Yet Playbook was released without a direct email client and without a keyboard. In other words RIM left the playing field in which they had and began to compete using other peoples rules.

      I know people who bought RIM phone just to look corporate. This was a good market. RIM could have expanded on this with a phone the was a hybrid consumer/corporate and then a tablet that expanded on this. No one though a phone with a keyboard would compete against apple, yet some Android has models with keyboards.

      RIM had the market, but simply did not innovate, like so many other companies. Claiming that this is some unique problem, or that it is a Candadian thing is like saying Compaq failed becasue it was based in Texas, which also has almost no auto manufacturing.

  • by nloop (665733) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:46AM (#37433278)

    For years RIM charged $200 to register as a developer before you could make any apps. Just a few months ago they announced they are "waiving" the fee.

    You spent years "waiving" potential developers to other platforms. No one wants to spend $200 on a weekend hobby, and that's what most apps are.

    • by bogaboga (793279)

      For years RIM charged $200 to register as a developer before you could make any apps. Just a few months ago they announced they are "waiving" the fee.

      Because at the time, they were the 'only game in town', simple as that.

      • by nloop (665733)

        At the time? We're talking through the end of 2010. A little slow to react!

      • Because at the time, they were the 'only game in town', simple as that.

        And we see how well that has worked out for them.

        Companies need to realize that they need the developers and not the other way around. If you treat them like shit, they will jump ship as soon as a competitor comes out (instead of, say, developing for both platforms).

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:58AM (#37433334) Homepage Journal

    Is management. And their inability to adapt to changing markets.

    Its often a sign you got too large for your britches and/or became complacent, but either way in the IT market you adapt or die out to make room for someone who does.

  • Gee, I wonder if the >$100 "developer license" with its 40-volume EULA and triplicate forms had anything to do with that...

  • My understanding is that you have to have both a Playbook AND a Blackberry to use the Playbook online. Forcing people to buy two devices instead of one was a very, very stupid approach.

  • by iONiUM (530420) * on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:24AM (#37433426) Homepage Journal

    I own a PlayBook. The first thing I wanted to do with it was connect to my work computer (Windows) and remote desktop. Well, PB doesn't support PPTP or L2TP/IPSec, so that won't work. Furthermore, it doesn't have a remote desktop app, further making this impossible. I then tried to connect it to a BlackBerry (I don't own one, but a co-workers does), and it failed. The only way to make it work was to re-flash the device with the same ROM (not a new one.. I don't know why). So, then I could read e-mail, right? Yes, but you can't open attachments... wtf?

    I think the above is a good summary of the overall impression people get from BlackBerry. Have you ever tried to use their desktop software for syncing music/etc to their phones? It's ridiculously awful. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it, as it took about 5 minutes just to detect the device and communicate with it. It just leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.

    Which brings me to my last point, which is the development environment. For PB, it's not existent.. it's command line. Sorry, but that's not acceptable. I mean, sure, when you first release the device, but now there's still nothing? At least make an eclipse plug-in. For BlackBerry.. well, I've made a few apps for 4.6.0 and above, and it was tragic at best. There are many simple things that are just not available (some graphical markup language anyone?) - the fact that I have to write my GUI in code just reeks of outdated. And then something like connecting to the internet requires re-implementation of connection detection every time.. there's nothing built into the framework to just abstract dealing with the connection away.

    I've read quite a few BB developer forums, and they are all fairly negative, or very frustrated. How can they expect a great app eco-system, when they obviously have absolutely no care in the world for their developers?

  • The smartphone market was (until Android appeared) one of status - people boasted their BB's 'cos it made them look and feel important. Enter iPhone, which did achieved the same functionality for people, only better. Android entered to clean up the bottom end of the smartphone market (those who want the functionality but can't afford the exclusivity) and even make tiny inroads into the upper end.

    There is no space for RIM in this world, unless they focus on taking on *either* iPhone or Android in their respective markets. WP7 hasn't a chance either, but at least they're focused - they're going after the Android space, not the "status and exclusivity" space. RIM doesn't know what to focus on, and they're (unsurprisingly) doing a bad job of going anywhere.
  • by quetwo (1203948) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:31AM (#37433452) Homepage

    I ended up with a Playbook from winning a contest just about a year ago. I was super excited to get one -- all the specs were great and it seemed like a winning device. The conference I was at had only one, and they kept it behiend a glass case. They wouldn't let any of the devs touch it, but they handed out Playbook Emulators (software) that you could build apps against. Over the course of the next 4 months, the API changed soo many times, and the Emulator was so buggy that it was almost pointless to develop against it.

    From that point, it was 6 months before I got the real device in the mail.

    A lot of promises that made the device a best-seller still haven't materilized.

      - It was said it was going to ship with the ability to run Android and old BBx Apps.
      - It was said that devlopers could develop apps in native QNX. Such an SDK has still not been released, except for a few select partners (I've been a BB developer for YEARS, and thought I could make this list... I guess not).
      - There were BB phones that were supposed to be released immediatly after the Playbook that ran QNX. This would allow devs to target one SDK / App development model for both phones and tablets. We have not seen anything about a new QNX phone yet.
      - It was said that there would be a version that had GSM/CDMA capabilities coming... It's been bumped off their road map. You can either use WiFi, or tether to an existing BB phone.
      - There is no 'smartphone' stuff in there. No Calendar, no Mail, nothing. You can tether to an existing BB phone and emulate some of those things, but if your phone is off, or out of range you loose those apps. Who pays hundreds of dollars and can't check your mail on a device!
      - There has been a real lack of business apps. Still no SSH app, still no RDP app. No email, no word processor, etc. These are the things people will notice when they check out the devices in the store. If the developer eco-system wasn't supporting these types of apps, RIM should have whipped them up to fill in the gaps. They didn't, and they still don't exist.
      - They've scared off most developers because of the way they run their program. You have to register your device with your program and download a developer 'token' that is only good for 30 days. Every 30 days you need to re-register your device to be able to deploy apps to it. Additionally, you have to bake those tokens into your app, which means that your apps can really only be tested for 30 day windows. To get your tokens approved it can take DAYS. Submitting stuff to the App World is a similar process as Apple, except you get more feedback when your apps get rejected.

    Now, all that being said, hardware wise I think the device is REAL nice.. One of the best tablet screens I've ever encountered. I love the gestures (the borders of the device are touch sensitive, and most of the gestures you use with the device orgionate from there). The web browser is really solid, and the multi-tasking works very well. Because of the screen, it's one of the few devices I can read a full newspaper on without having a lot of strain on my eyes. The OS is also beautiful too -- and much better laid out than iOS or Android. The battery lasts about 8 hours of continious use, which is great for a device like that.

    That being said -- I don't use it every day. I don't even use it every week because the lack of apps to do my work. At this point, it is a glorified web browser and that's about it. Give me the ability to do my day-to-day job (like I can on the iPad or Samsung tab), and it would be the device to carry around. But not until then.

  • RIM has a bad quarter, and the glee at which people post its demise is amusing. Look at the actual financials, their assets, and the market share. Adjust for an expanded market and you get less of a 'doom and gloom' picture.

    And the Playbook is a fine piece of kit - and will only get better when the NDK is released. Could it have more apps? Yes. Is there anything wrong with the device itself. No.

    • When was the last time an abandoned platform suddenly resurged into success through a series of late-arriving updates?

      • by Linegod (9952)

        Abandoned is a bit melodramatic. But how about Apple? Or Unix? Or Nintendo?

    • Re:A bad quarter (Score:4, Informative)

      by jon3k (691256) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:07AM (#37433960)
      It may be one bad quarter of financials, but they've been hemorrhaging market share since the introduction of the iPhone. The death of a platform isn't something that happens overnight.
    • by grub (11606)

      RIM has had a few bad quarters.

      They still show profit but it's down almost 50% over last year and that's with a 40% increase in subscribers. They're slashing prices on everything to keep relevant, they can't keep cutting prices much more, it's an unsustainable situation they're in.

      Also it's interesting to note that Apple sold almost as many iPads in the quarter as RIM sold actual smartphones. While Jim & Mike tout the "we shipped 200K Playbooks" mantra, they aren't telling how many are actually in the
  • Management (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:58AM (#37433582)
    RIM's major problem is their management. Problems like a lack of apps and whatever other reason you want to put forth all come _after_ RIM's management failed the company. Specifically, their management's lack of vision and ego.

    When Apple released the iPhone, the mobile market changed. You may love Apple or you may hate Apple but that doesn't matter - the fact that does matter is that Apple changed everything with the release of the iPhone. Simply look at the vast majority of mobile phones before the iPhone and then look at the vast majority of phones after the iPhone. Everything changed.

    Most companies recognized what the iPhone meant to the mobile market and thus they changed. Whether it was to "be more like Apple" or simply because they recognized that Apple was on to something big, the design of phones radically shifted. Specifically, keyboards largely vanished and touch screens were in. Phone makers changed gears.

    Except the RIM with the Blackberry.

    While everyone else was scrambling to adjust to the new reality in the mobile market, RIM's management steadfastly refused to acknowledge and, more importantly, recognize that things had changed. While even the most casual observer could tell that everything had changed, RIM's management somehow seemed to miss the signs and thus they didn't shift gears. Not until very recently have they begrudgingly released phones that kinda, sorta look and function like a touchscreen phone but, by now, it's too late. Momentum is well and truly swung and, once you get a massive shift in momentum like that, it's virtually impossible to stop it.

    RIM's management utterly failed their company. Their inability to adapt to a changing landscape; their inability to recognize that the landscape had changed or their unwillingness to admit that it had; their arrogance in believing that their established client base made them immune to changes in the market all has lead to this point. Their management is ill-equipped to run a mobile device maker because the market demands leadership that can recognize change when it happens and adapt to that change in a timely manner. And, to be clear, when I say "management" I'm largely look right at the very top.
    • by Alomex (148003)

      They are focused on the hardware at a time when the software (i.e. apps) are becoming more and more important. At recent events they had plenty of people talking about wireless and network technology and not a single one about software engineering, development platforms, algorithms, web 2.0, etc.

  • by west (39918) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:38AM (#37434146)

    The trouble for RIM is that it's really competing in a different market segment - low bandwidth, secure e-mail channel phones, which really *aren't* generalized smart phones. They're designed for that market, they own that market, and, unfortunately for RIM, that market is dying.

    IBM had to completely re-invent itself not because the it ever lost its market (mainframes) - it's market became financially irrelevant. Microsoft is petrified that while it will own the PC forever, the PC itself will become irrelevant.

    As for poor RIM, they are facing a situation of dropping bandwidth costs, better batteries, increasing processor bang per milliWatt, and the fact it looks like consumers will dictate what hardware businesses will use (after all, VPs are consumers too). In other words, their market is getting eaten by a completely different market.

    This is the hardest situation for any company to be in - everything you do well is no longer relevant.

    Most companies don't get one big idea, and RIM got that. Microsoft got two (Windows and Office), maybe three with XBox. Apple? Well, Apple's somehow been blessed with five. (Apple II, Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad).

    Will RIM survive? It has some time, as its third world market will be relevant for quite a while yet. But if it wants to be anything more than a second string Android maker, it will require a second big idea, and not many companies manage that.

  • I think where RIM and Palm missed their oportunities is because leadership thinks that consumers are more averse to change than what they really are. I can see where they get these ideas; any time Microsoft realeases a new interface it's really easy to find comments rated 5 on slashdot with people bragging about how they're not going to use the new interface, set the UI settings back to Win 95 settings and kind of wish they could roll back to Win 3.1. The people who yell and scream "anything but change" can

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