Seven New Smartphones. Same Old RIM

Research In Motion CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis discussed the future plans for the company with shareholders. The company has been increasingly losing market share to Android based phones as well as to Iphones. In terms of consumer market share by operating system, Android (36%) appears to be pulling way ahead of RIM Blackberry (23%) and Apple iOS (26%) according to the Neilson company.

Canada’s RIM no longer has the best hardware or operating system. They have lost their dominance over the Smartphone industry. RIM’s co-chairs tried to address recent concerns to shareholders. They shared plans for RIM to launch seven new BlackBerry Smarphones that will feature a revolutionary new operating system.

However, these plans may be more of the same from the company. BlackBerry OS 7 isn’t revolutionary and not on par with Apple’s iOS 5 or with Google’s upcoming Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Nor will the BB OS 7 support flash or Android Apps. The solutions suggested by the CEOs do not show initiative to change. As suggested by Lazaridis the new bold “jumps a generation”, yet will remain generations behind competing phones such as the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Much like Nokia, RIMs inability to take risks and change is bringing about their slow but steady decline. Google and Apple are both modern companies oozing with creativity from top to bottom. Letters have been published where RIM employees complain of a corporate culture where “It can take weeks of time to make small changes, and months to make major ones” and where “no one is accountable […] we will never achieve excellence with this culture.”

BlackBerry consumers often complain about the lack of apps which limit the functionality of the phone in comparison to Androids and iPhones. The letters also indicate this issue as it states , “We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly” and that, “Developing for BlackBerry is painful […]Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990’²s Ford Explorer. Then there’s Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3”.

RIM’s seven new Smartphone’s running on BlackBerry OS 7 will bring forth some excitement and even moderate profit as loyal users will continue using their products. However, many will be disappointed again by the shortcomings. There is no doubt that RIM still has the capacity to change. Even though, stock prices are not what they used to be (2008: $148 / 2011: $27), RIM is still a marginally lucrative and profitable company. They are fortunate in having the financial resources to bring about change.

They need to ditch there gambles on BlackBerry OS 7 and focus on a new, QNX-powered superphone. QNX should be RIM’s future direction. QNX’s realtime operating system will allow their Smartphones to utilize an emulator to run Android apps. A QNX powered BlackBerry will allow users access to nearly all the same applications as their competitors while minting the phone off with the feel and conventionality of a traditional BlackBerry Smartphone. There is much optimism regarding RIM’s use of QNX. They have the capacity and capability to make it a reality. Anything short of a QNX powered Smartphone is a waste of time and they are only going to continue losing market share to superior competitors.

Sources

Sunny Freeman, The Canadian Press: RIM leaders acknowledge woes but sound defiant note at annual meeting; Yahoo! Canada Finance