“RIM shares down, analysts forecast gloomy quarter.”
This particular headline comes from a CP24 new blurb but it seems to be a reoccurring theme splashed across dozens of prominent newspapers internationally. Still the question remains: how many more gloomy quarters can RIM survive before the final nail is in the coffin? When writing this article I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just basing this piece on my own personal (and may I add horrible) Blackberry experience. I went to the streets and had conversations with my peers to gather as much feedback as possible. Unfortunately for RIM most of these conversations were just complaints from angry current and ex-Blackberry users.
As a former resident of Waterloo I’ve always had a soft spot for Research in Motion (RIM) and their most popular product: the Blackberry. Five years ago I sat back and watched this multinational telecommunications giant buy up plots of land in North Waterloo. Business was booming and the company seemed stronger than ever. Many of my friends were employed at RIM and I was jealous of their new high-paying jobs. Five years ago everyone I knew had a Blackberry, and BBM was the “it” method of communication. Consequently, I too, bought into the hype. I purchased a new Blackberry and I can honestly say I loved it — at first. But like many other Blackberry users I found myself unsatisfied with my device and seduced by the competition.
So what happened?
How did such a successful product and company take a turn for the worst, and in just so little time? Obviously there are many factors that may have led to the demise of RIM but two that stand out to me are lack of continuous innovation and device malfunctions.
1) Innovation (or lack thereof) At the top of their game, Blackberry had a huge pull for consumers with the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) application. It was an excellent form of instant communication between Blackberry users, an exclusive society that requires a unique PIN to gain entrance. Over time, this society became less exclusive as more and more consumers were drawn to the Blackberry brand. At this point Blackberry could have stepped up to the plate and “wow”ed their existing users with new features, apps, and design. They did not. RIM did nothing but rely on the strength of the BBM app. But when RIM’s competition (Google’s Android & Apple’s iPhone) started developing superior devices and championing Smartphone innovation it was clear that it was time for the Blackberry to evolve. To RIM’s credit they did try with the introduction of touch screen devices, the Blackberry Playbook and the revamp with OS7. By that time it was too late, with potential new users not interested or impressed with outdated technology and old users waiting for their 3-yr contracts to come up for renewal.
2) Device malfunctions. Freezing, constant rebooting, touch screen not working, keypad not working, LCD screen failures, losing contacts, worldwide BBM blackouts. These are just a few technical issues that Blackberry users are up against. It’s unfair to expect any technological device to be functional 100% of time, but this Smartphone has the reputation of being unreliable and lack durability. In October of 2011 the BBM network crashed leaving millions of users worldwide without the use of BBM and email services. Frustrated users took to Twitter, Facebook and blogs to vent about their issues. Personally I chose to ditch the Blackberry because of all of the above mentioned problems. I found myself returning to TELUS repeatedly to address issues while my warranty was still in place. Once my warranty expired it was up to me to pay out of pocket to repair all these glitches. I was now being charged more than my phone was worth to fix problems that were regular occurrences with this particular model. I knew I was done; this phone was not worth the stress. At first I was scared, I couldn’t imagine how I would communicate with friends and family without BBM. Illogical questions danced around my head. Would I still have friends? Would people remember I exist? Do these people even have my phone number?
But to all the users that are hanging onto their Blackberry’s because of the BBM feature, may I remind you of a standard cell phone feature — the text message. Exactly the same as BBM without having to worry about the pesky delivered/received function.