[sc:mobile-category ]RIM recently released they’re quarterly results and had an increase in sales and profit, yet the stock to a beating. Why?
Easy, they also announced that they wouldn’t have a handset based on OS 10 until the second half of 2012. That’s a REALLY long time in the mobile industry and there’s some real questions around what that means.
Let’s look at another company that was in the same boat a few years ago, Microsoft. MS had Windows Mobile in the market for years before iOS or Android came along, but it was stagnate and looked like it a dinosaur in comparison to the new kids on the block. MS said it wouldn’t have the successor to WM to market for over a year and took a beating in the marketplace (their stock would have slumped much more if it wasn’t for the fact MS has a diverse portfolio or products).
When Windows Phone finally arrived, it was a stunning achievement of innovation (something some say MS can’t do, but in fact does very well) but that’s not enough in the market. Quite often the better product is not the one that wins. Microsoft has spent the better part of year fighting to get traction with WP and it looks like 2012 might get it done for them.
But that means RIM is in for some rough times coming up. Don’t get me wrong, they have a loyal following of users that aren’t going anywhere and business users won’t easily give them up either.
But if Apple has taught the industry anything, is that the mass market is a very lucrative place to be if you have the product everyone wants.
The question that is starting to appear in my mind is “Is a Blackberry a smart phone?”.
And that’s a problem for RIM, is the BB starting to look too much like a feature phone to be considered viable in the consumer space? No one wants to buy a feature phone these days, I know people who have no idea why they have an iPhone, but it’s what they wanted and so they bought it.
The other day I was talking to a friend, who’s not in the IT industry but is a gadget geek, he has two phones. A BB for BBM so he can communicate with his business partners and an Android phone so he can run the apps he wants.
That’s a big change from a few years ago when the BB was the phone that could do it all.
Will RIM remain successful? Absolutely, just like Nokia, they have a huge market to sell to even if it’s not smart phones at the moment, but they do need to get OS 10 devices out the door ASAP, not wait another 6 months if they want to compete in the smart phone space.