The phrase ‘gruesome reading’ barely begins to cover last week’s Research in Motion (RIM) results. With profits sliding by 9.6 per cent and the numbers of phones shipped down by 18 per cent, the BlackBerry maker is in serious trouble.
To compound matters, its shares slipped by 14 per cent on the news, as execs battled to show that all was not lost while bullishly talking up a stack of new phones featuring a similar operating system to that found on the BlackBerry PlayBook.
But how exactly has it come to this? The smartphone market is booming. Google and Apple are conquering all before them, yet RIM seems to be going backwards, taking a leaf out of Nokia’s book in the process.
Hold any BlackBerry now, play around with one, and it’s difficult to see where the big-time changes have come in recent years. Yes, the software has been boosted and yes, apps are more prevalent, but in an age where Android and iOS are king and intuition and ease of use are essential, RIM is falling far behind. What about new phones?
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is due next month, but that’s really just a bump from the previous model. How about something new, exciting, packing in the QNX OS that RIM has been so keen to talk up?
Mike Lazaridis said last week that the new kit would, “…bridge the end of Q2 into Q3.” Phones such as the Curve Touch, next-gen Torch and a top-end touchscreen device to rival the iPhone should be out by the end of the year.
RIM’s problem is that by that time, the iPhone 4S/5 will be flying off shelves and the Google Nexus 3 will be showing Android users everywhere why Ice Cream Sandwich is the future of smartphones.
So what exactly can RIM do? Its focus has to shift to QNX immediately. Like Nokia with Symbian, it needs to put its old-school mobile OS to the wayside for good.
The PlayBook is doing well, with 500,000 shipped (although that doesn’t mean sold), from March to May. Despite its limitations, users clearly like the well-designed OS and solid hardware. Surely now the focus has to be on getting this onto phones and pushing them aggressively?
The days of BlackBerry being the dependable workhorse are numbered, with Apple and Google breathing down their neck in the world of enterprise. Something stunning and consumer focused could just put RIM back on track, but it’ll have to be an absolute world-beater. Just like Nokia, RIM has been caught napping and is now starting to pay the price.