3 Steps Thorsten Hein, The New CEO of RIM Needs to Take Immediately in Order to Survive
By: Hillel Fuld
OK, RIM, your time has come. You either make some difficult decisions now or become completely irrelevant in the mobile space of 2012. Announcing that your CEO is stepping down to be replaced by someone new got many of us excited there for a second, until that someone new opened his mouth. You can watch his inaugural address below.
I realize that sounds harsh, but the days in which people tell you that your secure offering, combined with keyboards, and BBM will carry you in the competitive mobile industry are over. They won't, not anymore.
Can RIM make a comeback? To be honest, I am not overly optimistic, but I have consistently said regarding Windows Phone, that this industry is still young and there is much room for competition. The problem is, at the very foundation of what RIM stands for, lies an outdated and even primitive philosophy of security, enterprise, and advanced email capabilities.
No one cares about those things, end even if there are still some dedicated BlackBerry users who do, RIM has to get its Mojo back and become sexy if it wants to survive. Enterprise and security are not sexy.
Here are three steps to be implemented immediately by RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Hein. This is a life and death situation here, and from where I am sitting, RIM has two options. Take these steps or call it a day.
1: Consumers are your Friends
If yesterday, RIM targeted the enterprise sector, it is pretty clear that over the past year or two, RIM sees Apple and Google as its main competitors. All the new BlackBerry touch devices are clear evidence of that.
The problem is, RIM went in half way and got their feet wet in the mobile consumer space, but that is a mistake. Much like getting behind the wheel of a car, hesitation is the worst thing RIM can do right now. Choose your space and focus on it. If it is enterprise, then be enterprise, to the end.
However, I believe RIM needs to focus on consumers and go in 150%. Put your cards all in, at this point, you don't have much to lose. Which leads me to my next point...
2: Developers are your New Costumers
OK, RIM, it is time to redefine who your audience is. Yes, at the end of the day you want to reach users but we all know how that's been going for you. So here is what you have to do. I don't care how you do it of what out-of-the-box steps you need to take, but developers are your new road to success.
You need to incentivize developers by the thousands to develop for your platform. You need apps and a whole lot of them. You want proof? Go read any debate on the Web about Windows Phone and whether it will succeed. The primary argument against Windows Phone is that it lacks apps. Of course, that is a somewhat ridiculous way of presenting it since Windows Phone already has 60k live apps after just one year, but that is a topic for another time.
The bottom line is, in today's mobile space, hardware doesn't really matter, and I will go as far as to say, that the actual UI of the OS is secondary to how many apps the platform has. So your first move, RIM, once you established that you are targeting consumers and focusing on developers, is to create a strategy to bring iOS and Android developers over to your platform? How do you do that? Here is a hint: App Monetization.
3: Find Yourself
According to the Steve Jobs bio, Larry Page met with Jobs to discuss Google's overall strategy and Jobs' advice can be summed up in one word "Focus". Of course, Google clearly didn't take Jobs' advice and is now operating in pretty much every industry under the stars including search, social, mobile, cars, location, and the list goes on. But you know what? Google can afford to spread its wings, RIM cannot!
So what platform are BlackBerry devices running nowadays? That is a serious question, can you answer it? "Of course, they run the BlackBerry 7 OS, right?" Well, does the Playbook run it? No, it runs QNX. OK, but that is a tablet, all phones run BlackBerry OS. Well, for now, but RIM already announced the upcoming BBX platform. Does that sound like a company that is focused?
To me it sounds like Android fragmentation but ten times worse. At least all Android devices are running Android. Yes, some are running Froyo 2.2, others are running Gingerbread 2.3, others Honeycomb 3.0, and if you're part of the lucky elite, you are running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.
When it comes to BlackBerry devices, we are not talking about different versions of the same OS, we are talking about different OSes. Not only is that counter productive as far as developers are concerned, but it is confusing and annoying for users. So, RIM, focus. Choose an OS and run with it.
I realize the chances of RIM taking even one of these steps are close to none, but if Thorsten Hein continues down the road RIM has been going, I am fairly certain I can tell him what is at the end of that road, and it ain't pretty.
Who likes a post that ends on such a negative note? Enjoy the hilarious "My BlackBerry is not working" video below.