The Downfall of Research in Motion

Alex Brayman writes about the downfall of Research in Motion over the past few years. RIM is the maker of the famous Blackberry phone line. He makes observations and predictions on the future of the company and their newest product addition.

How Long can the BlackBerry Last?

Research in Motion is the Canadian telecommunication company that is best known for their development of BlackBerry smartphones and recently a tablet called the PlayBook. BlackBerry was one of the first to enter into the wireless market with their focus revolving around Email, instant messaging, and high level security. It was quickly adopted as a personal digital assistant for most professionals and even integrated into many corporate businesses because of the data encryption feature. BlackBerry integrated a camera and a media player before most other phones even had a keyboard, giving them even stronger market advantages.

Everything changed when the iPhone and Android devices entered the market. Suddenly, with all different types of phones that weren’t targeted at companies or business professionals flooding the market, consumers who did not use their phones primarily for business began to jump ship. For casual consumers, the extra business options and security features available on the BlackBerry couldn’t compete with the games and other fun apps available on iPhone and Android. Thus began the downfall of RIM.

RIM stocks have had a rapid decline over the past year, but they will not go down without a fight. There are many reasons to still buy a BlackBerry, and these why why RIM has potential to bounce back. For example, BlackBerry has great security, which has encouraged the US Federal Government, Department of Defense, and even President Obama to rely on BlackBerrys. This high level of attention to security makes RIM a prime contestant for anyone who values their personal information highly or deals with valuable/sensitive confidential information. RIM put it well when they said “These security features have made the BlackBerry solution a world leader in security certifications.”

BlackBerrys are also designed for productivity. BlackBerry preloads your information in the background so you can access all your recent communications immediately. The productivity aspect can be found throughout their apps in addition to written into the operating system, allowing you to run multiple applications and easily switch back and forth from them even when connected up to 10 different email accounts.

In addition, BlackBerry is available in 91 countries with over 500 mobile service carriers supporting their wide variety of wireless handheld devices. This means that regardless of where you are, you are not restricted to a specific carrier or even a phone, giving the consumer a range of freedom not offered by other popular smartphone companies. RIM has been able to adapt and improve their products to compete with the recent advances released on the market, constantly improving the hardware, software, and applications to directly compete with the top phones on the market. However, there is room for significant improvement in their app store, which only contains about 100,000 apps (about 10% of what Apple and Google each have in their respective stores).

RIM’s products have always been designed with the end user in mind, focusing on ways to overcome the common difficulties of life we often face. This can be seen in the physical design of the phone, features, and its overall durability. Their phones are built solidly enough to endure such abuse as being dropped down a flight of stairs, being stepped on, and landing in a puddle, and keep on ticking. The battery life is also very impressive, lasting through multiple days of heavy usage. Another advantage is that even if the battery does die, it is removeable and can be swapped out with a backup. (Because most users do not carry a backup battery on hand, the charge port on the BlackBerry is a microUSB port, for which a generic charger can easily be found.) Many phones have fixed batteries, forcing you to plug it in when the power has been exhausted–which, if you’re traveling or otherwise on the go, can be inconvenient at best.

If RIM is on its last legs, why would it even be worth looking at a BlackBerry? Well, there are several reasons they still have a fighting chance. Founded in 1984, they have had all of the 90s to perfect a messaging system and it is clear how much work went into making it seamless. BlackBerry has always had push email, which means the second a message is received you are alerted (as opposed to “pull” email where you are not alerted until you prompt it) and it will do this for up to 10 different email accounts of any type with ease. There is also a notification light that can be programmed to blink any color for any specific type of message, so even when your phone is on silent, you can be fully aware of type of message and even its urgency.

Overall Blackberry has provided a phone that is perfect for any professional business individual who needs to coordinate a busy schedule and have immediate internet access, GPS navigation, and a high level of security. If they are to properly compete in the application world, they need to step up their game and start carrying many more apps. If their new devices and the newest operating system show drastic improvements, there is potential for RIM to make a comeback. In the event they do not recover, there are many companies that could swoop in for a buyout. There have been rumours that Google, Apple, Microsoft, and even Amazon and Facebook have shown interest in RIM. If they don’t rebrand to include a larger consumer market and start competing more aggressively in the app war, then any one of these companies may take the reins. I personally still love my BlackBerry, but if they don’t come out with new devices with improved BlackBerry 10 OS then I might be shopping for a different brand. I hope this won’t be necessary but only time will tell.

Resources:

1)Forbes – Five Reasons the BlackBerry isn’t Doomed
2)Business Insider – Why I’m Dropping the iPhone and Switching to a BlackBerry

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