Friday, May 20, 2011

Canadian Business magazine U.S. commentator says Research in Motion is toast

[This post has been updated]Canadian Business magazine commissioned well-known US commentator Henry Blodget (EIC of Business Insider) to pass judgement on the likely fate of the maker of the BlackBerry and (now) the Playbook, Research in Motion. His verdict (published online by Canadian Business and simultaneously on Business Insider)? RIM is toast.

[Update: This article, which I came across on Business Insider, not Canadian Business, but crediting CB, was part of a broader package about Research in Motion, including (as CB editor Steve Maich points out in his comment) a countervailing view called Long Live Rim by Nick Waddell, the founding editor of the Cantech Letter. Unfortunately, most American investors and many Canadian readers will only see the Blodget article (as I did) and probably be unaware of the editorial package with its alternative perspective, which is too bad for one of the shining stars of Canadian high tech.]
Blodget said he was a 10-year devotee of the BlackBerry, which was rarely more than two feet away from him, 24 hours a day.
By creating the BlackBerry, Research In Motion revolutionized mobile productivity. For nearly a decade, the company easily fended off the competition by providing the best personal-information gadget on the market. It silenced its critics. It reduced Palm, a previous leader in mobile gadgets, to a pile of rubble. And it made its shareholders rich.
But now, Research In Motion’s amazing run appears to be over. The company has lost its lead in the smartphone market, and its market share is falling rapidly. And many long-time addicts like me have switched to iPhones or Android phones.
He cites three reasons for the decline:
  1. RIM's products are no longer the best on the market
  2. Smartphones have become a "platform market" where apps rule
  3. BlackBerry's biggest selling point, security and integration with corporate systems, has been overtaken
"The most likely scenario for RIM is that it becomes Nokia, a company that once dominated the cellphone market but lost several steps and is now scrambling to stay relevant. A worse scenario would be that RIM becomes the next Palm, a one-time leader that falls on its face and is eventually sold for scrap to a larger technology player."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no "mobile expert", but I am a magazine publishing professional with nearly 20 years of experience, and I'm very comfortable with technology. I have been using a BlackBerry since the screens were black & white and to use the phone function, you HAD TO plug in an earpiece - you couldn't simply raise the unit to your face and speak/listen.

Over the past while, I've had the pleasure of extensively testing rival products such as multiple Android-based models (Atrix, Galaxy, Xperia, etc.), and iPhones. While all of these handheld devices are impressive with respect to entertainment value, app availability and selection, and so on - when it comes down to hard-core business functionality and personal productivity - nothing competes with the BlackBerry.

If you're looking for a rich web browsing experience, if you're a mobile gamer - then BlackBerry is probably not for you. BUT - if you're a mobile professional, looking to stay connected and productive while out of the office - then stop looking at all of those other devices and go out and buy a BlackBerry.

1:01 pm  
Anonymous Steve Maich said...

Hi DB -
Thanks for your reference to our article. I just wanted to point out that the package also included an argument, from our contributor Nick Waddell, that despite all the pessimism, RIM is actually doing very well and will continue to grow.

Our thinking was basically that there are two drastically different visions for the future of RIM right now, and we should try to articulate what those visions are since RIM is such an important company.

I don't personally disagree with anything that the first anonymous poster said. I still have my BlackBerry and I like it very much. But there is a sense that they've lost their edge.


4:09 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Fair enough. I had not seen the entire package. Here is the link to the Waddell counterpoint called Long Live RIM.

As somebody who lives in Waterloo Region, I sincerely hope RIM survives and prospers. But I was startled when I came across the article on the Business Insider website.

4:21 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

As you'll see, I've updated the post to give a link to the countervailing view by Nick Waddell.

4:28 pm  

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