Memo to RIM: The BlackBerry Era Has Ended; Make a Bold Move
Research In Motion (RIM) is shaking things up amid difficult economic times and lukewarm reception to the company’s mobile product lineups. The delay of the new BlackBerry Bold, in addition to the poor reception of the BlackBerry PlayBook, has made RIM take drastic measures to improve the company’s profitability. But are the latest moves too little too late? The VAR Guy has some strong opinions to share.
RIM’s official press release says the 2,000 job custs will happen over time, starting in the U.S. and moving on to other country locations. All employees will be receiving a severance package and support for finding a new job (which can’t be cheap for RIM). The layoffs are necessary to ensure the roll-out of RIM’s “Cost Optimization Program.”
The ominous sounding program will be “focused on eliminating redundancies and reallocating resources.” Ouch. Translation? RIM has too many employees since it’s no longer an industry powerhouse. RIM admitted that their employee count “nearly quadrupled” in the past five years; times certainly were good in the pre-iPhone/Android world). After the layoffs are complete, RIM will have bout 17,000 employees. RIM says that after the layoffs, the focus will shift to new “strategic objectives”.
RIM has also shaken up C-level management, though The VAR Guy wonders how much impact the moves will have. RIM will disclose its outlook for the rest of 2011 in September after releasing Q2 2011 results.
Necessary Cuts… And New Moves?
RIM needs to shrink before it can grow again, The VAR Guy believes. There is a plethora of potential in QNX, the PlayBook’s operating system. RIM acquired the operating system company for a sizable sum. Now, it’s time for RIM to build a truly innovative product to somehow compete against the Google and Apple mobile duopoly. And unlike HP, where fledgling webOS products hardly dictate the financial outcome of the company, RIM must compete or die in its core smartphone and mobile markets.
But The VAR Guy wonders: Is this all too little too late? What can RIM really do to pull itself out of the slump? The VAR Guy thinks that RIM needs to go dark and go insular. The VAR Guy suggests: Support the existing BlackBerry line, kill the new BlackBerry Bold, save some cash and do some heavy R&D. As crazy as those steps may sound, it’s time for RIM to start acting like a start-up by focusing on unique solutions rather than “me too” devices.
The VAR Guy envisions a new line of smartphone that breaks ties from the past. Leaving one legacy behind can often help start a new legacy. Initially it can be rough, but Apple, for example, has taken that route many times, showing that it’s often successful. OS 9 to OS X, PowerPC to Intel, and most recently, physical media to the cloud. All were big transitions but all reshaped the landscape and opened doors to more Apple innovations.
Our resident blogger would welcome a thin, 4-inch rectangular screen, clad in black, running QNX, pre-packaged with every productivity feature a business user could ever need out of the box, no syncing, downloading, app installing needed. RIM could reach out to Microsoft, Adobe and Cisco to ensure built-in Office, Exchange, PDF, Flash, and WebEx compatibility is built deep into the operating system. Reach out to SaaS vendors and create OS-level support for a multitude of services from Citrix to SalesForce. Drop Android support and encourage a true app ecosystem by building a more robust SDK and offer real incentives for dedicated developers. Reach out to mobile CPU manufactures and ensure deep system compatibility between the OS and hardware. Don’t cut corners, don’t skimp on essential apps like mail, calendar, messaging and more. And whatever you do, don’t call it a BlackBerry.
Bury the name, and reinvent a new fruit to evangelize. The era of BlackBerry has ended.