Another quarterly results announcement has come and gone. More people (including myself) are frustrated, sad, but really not shocked. The biggest and best blackberry ever released is basically a year old and in mobile terms its a dinosaur. The problem for RIM is that they have released other phones which haven’t been accepted anywhere as well as that one and many are going onto the End Of Life shelves.
So whats wrong with RIM’s phones that people don’t want to buy them?
The phones are perceived to be old and a year behind when they come out which doesn’t help. While the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is a awesome phone and has great reviews its viewed as a couple years too late. While businesses have kept using the keyboard, many consumers have moved to the touchscreen phones. BlackBerry hasn’t of yet created a good touchscreen phone for the public. People are moving to larger screens (as shown by the 5.3 monster, Samsung Galaxy Note) in droves and companies are moving to meet the need. Unfortunately for RIM the largest screen they have put out is around 3.5 inches while the competition is in the 4-5 inch range. For success RIM will need to expand the size of there phones and decrease the number they build (models) to streamline the business. So far we have old (out of box) small screens and stuck in the good old days. What else is wrong with RIM’s phones? Well Research in Motion does not advertise well in the least bit, they are terrible. This doesn’t bode well for them as the average consumer doesn’t usually have the time to research there purchase and can buy on advise or trends. Which leads me to another interesting piece; in 2007, when BlackBerry was king they had a following that would purchase almost anything they put out. In 2012, that following is gone basically and they have migrated to Apple products. So we have old, bad marketing, no cult followers, screen size and stuck in the good old days (2004-2007)
What about Apps?
Currently, the biggest issue facing RIM is the number of apps it has in its lineup. In 2009, the two CEO’s of RIM thought that apps were a fad that would eventually pass and that it wasn’t worth investing in. Looking back, all I can say is WOW!. The number and quality of apps is the reason that RIM is failing and the failure of the past CEO’s to catch on to this fad was a huge mistake. Apple was at the forefront of app development and now they currently stand at around 500,000 apps. The fad is continuing, growing and looking to not be a fad but a necessary feature of the new mobile smartphone. RIM has tried different ways to help drive the number of apps on its system. It started off by removing the $299 fee to have an app on app world (BlackBerry’s app store). While this likely created some interest it wasn’t until the android player was opened to developers that things picked up. The playbook was released in April 2011 and found to be ‘half baked’. One of the things Blackberry did was to allow android developers to port there apps over to BlackBerry for free. Between 2009-2011 there was only around 50,000 apps, when RIM created the android player and started giving away Playbooks they really started to push apps. In a matter of a week 6,600 developers signed up and around 10-15,000 more apps have been added in a couple months. While this was a highlight for RIM the 60,000-65,000 is still much less then 450,000 (apple), 350,000 (Android) and the growing 70,000 (windows).
The biggest issue for them has been to get big developers to sign on to build for the brand. Many have apps for a couple of platforms but not for BlackBerry. Apps like Skype, Netflix, Draw Something, Instagram, Draw with friends etc all haven’t made there way to Blackberry and this is holding people back. My personal opinion is that RIM needs to create a fund that developers can apply for to help pay for there app build. In return BlackBerry would get the app on the platform, the developer would add to it and sign up for a 4 year contract. It could help smaller developers come to the platform but also may give bigger ones incentive to build for future phones. BlackBerry 10 phones are the ones powered by QNX and are the future of RIM. If the users don’t have the apps the phone will sell but it may not be great in number, and then the developers wont build for the platform. RIM needs to get the platform to developers otherwise the phones will not sell. So what is my plan?
1. Streamline the system and make it easy to build apps
2. Create a fund for developers to use for app building (Build the app if necessary for the developer)
3. Pressure big companies to build for the new generation
4. Market the phones and sell the numbers to attract developers.