An article in the Globe & Mail posits a way to “start fixing BlackBerry”. The problem? There wasn’t a truly useful or meaningful suggestion. Worse, the writer fails to challenge one of their sources on an inconsistency in the industry.
This has certainly been a tough couple of weeks for Blackberry. They reported rather dismal numbers for the last quarter, losing nearly $1 billion dollars. They are left scrambling after Garnter suggested that companies basically abandon the handset. One of their manufacturing partners is bowing out. T-Mobile won’t sell Blackberries in store, and will only sell them on-line. Now we find out that the plan to take them private may be on shaky ground. All this, coupled with the suggestion that Blackberry can retrench and survive in a niche doesn’t bode well for what was once a great Canadian brand. Seriously, can it get worse?
So, the new Blackberry devices and their new operating system are out. Proponents are expecting it to return RIM to the top of the smartphone heap. The more realistic, however, see this device for what it is: a last gasp attempt for RIM to keep Blackberry relevant in a world that they were a big part of (globally) or virtually owned (in North America). In the areas that matter to consumers, the Z10 and BB10 aren’t “better enough” to matter. Sure, the underpinnings are finally a modern operating system, with modern frameworks and tools. At the end of the day, it’s just another touchscreen minitablet that runs some apps. The details may vary, but the general bits are “more of the same”.
A new piece is quoting Thorsten Heins from RIM as saying that carriers are excited about Blackberry 10. Good grief! This is somehow reassuring? Oh boy, the carriers are excited about another device they can use to sell more minutes and get more long-term contracts! What a shock! This falls under the category of news that includes “water still wet”, “space still cold”, and “fire still burns stuff”. The carriers being “excited” means nothing in terms of the future prospects of Blackberry 10.
A piece on Forbes posits that RIM can survive if it does two basic things: take on Microsoft or focus on being a niche player. Taking on Microsoft would seem to be a pointless exercise. The idea of a niche product, depending on the niche, could be intriguing.
RIM has decided that the best way to reach out to developers right now is a music video. It’s sung to the tune of REO Speedwagon’s 1980 song Keep On Loving You (from their album Hi Fidelity). You really have to see this thing to believe it.
Okay, so some credit to RIM for trying something different. But only a little. Maybe instead of spending money on a music video, they could be spending money on, oh, I don’t know, real product marketing?
RIM executives have spoken about the need to rebuild the company, and cut costs to make that feasible. Now, the talk has become reality. The layoffs that were announced have started to happen, with a facility in Halifax seeing 25% of their staff let go. Some “minor” assets are, will shortly be, up for sale, such as the NewBay cloud hosting provider. There is continued speculation about IBM’s interest in RIM’s network, and the rumour about a Samsung deal persists (despite it not making much sense for Samsung). That whispering has helped buoy RIM stock, and I expect that the stock will continue to see some support as layoffs and asset sales continue.