It may come as no surprise to anyone that the once iconic RIM, the company responsible for the BlackBerry smartphone line, is in dire straits. RIM has been struggling for some time now in the smartphone market, quickly finding its range of hardware to be outdated, outmoded and outclassed as competing ecosystems like Android, iOS and Windows Phone continue to surge ahead in terms of functionality, intuitive UIs and hardware specs.
There have, of course, been many factors at play but probably the simplest way to sum things up is that RIM focused far too hard on the enterprise market, not realising that as smartphones became more powerful manufacturers would be able to appeal to both enterprise and consumer markets with a single model.
Recent months have seen RIM scrambling to completely reboot its franchise, first by adding capacitive touchscreen technology, then releasing touchscreen-only devices, also attempted was the ill-fated BlackBerry Playbook tablet and now RIM’s final hopes seem to be resting on its totally new OS: BB10 which we should be seeing sometime in early 2013.
BB10 certainly looks to be a big step in the right direction for RIM, but from what we’ve seen it may not be enough. Yes, BB10 does appear to be a well-rounded and modern smartphone OS, but BlackBerry has already lost so much market share that it’ll need something pretty outstanding to get back in the game. Simply releasing a competitive OS won’t be enough; it needs to be better than at least one of the 3 major players if it’s going to be the shining knight that RIM so desperately needs.
Another major hurdle is that 2013 release date. RIM needs BB10 now, but unfortunately that’s simply not an option. In fact, RIM is in such a bad spot that there’s talk of splitting up the company or partnering with Microsoft. We’ve even heard rumours of a push towards RIM-made Android devices, but we wouldn’t put too much money on those coming to fruition in the near future.
RIM’s board is under a lot of pressure right now, after posting quarterly losses in excess of $500 Million and now having to cut over 5000 jobs. It’s the first NET loss suffered by the company in 8 years and there doesn’t seem to be anything to stop further losses between now and the release of BB10.
We do hope that RIM manages to pull through, but we wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing parts of the company sold off to competitors in the near future. It’s definitely sad to see this kind of thing happening to a company whose product “BlackBerry” was once synonymous with “smartphone”, but at the same time it’s undeniable that RIM simply failed to keep up in the fast-paced technological market of today. For now one thing is for certain: the next few months are going to be very interesting for RIM and its board.