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Industry Opinion: RIM, What's Next?

Our last Industry Opinion created a lot of discussion and debate and we’re back again this time asking “Rim, What’s Next.”  This time we turned to Terry Donnelly who among other things is the Executive Chairman at Bee Media Inc. & Corby Fine, Senior Director, Business Development at Rogers.

Profectio: What was the defining moment when RIM started to fail?
Corby: RIM started to fail the day Apple launched the iPhone. RIM stayed true to their IT and corporate roots, ignoring the mass shift that was about to take place, consumers forcing their own needs onto the plates of IT staff everywhere.

Terry: For me it was the launch of the Torch. This was in response to the iPhone, which hands down demonstrated far greater ease of use, and cool factor, not to mention the proliferation of apps that developers started to build. The torch failed to compete, and the blackberry app world was a joke. developers found it too hard to develop a different app for every model of bberry, and things started to slide from there.

Profectio: What do you think is next for the Waterloo-based company?

Corby: I believe they will attempt to launch new and more innovative products, but ultimately will need to sell themselves to survive. Perhaps Microsoft, perhaps another device manufacturer. Either way, alone I am not sure they can survive.

Terry: They have to consolidate all of their devices on a single OS, which needs to be backwards compatible. Then they need to align themselves with the Android store, so they can take advantage of all of the apps there and fully integrate developers from that OS into their ecosystem. Android is the winner in the OS world, so go with the winner, but make sure your features are differentiated on the hard ware and email integration.

Profectio:  Should RIM try to sell off pieces of its business? Should someone else acquire the company?

Corby: As I mention above, I believe they should sell. They are a software and hardware company all in one. They need to sell as a unit. Their new OS is a capable platform and the new hardware that is rumoured seems to be strong. What they need now is to remove the brand and relabel themselves as something that people trust and believe in.

Terry:  I think every company is always for sale. They should seriously look at ensuring they generate maximum value for their shareholders. If that means a sale, then so be it.

Profectio: Will RIM stay in both the business and consumer business?

Corby:  If they sell – who knows? If they go at it alone I think it would be a mistake to focus on the business market. Are there really two distinct markets anymore? Who doesn’t support pretty much every device know to mankind these days?

Terry: Yes – they have to do both. New IT rules include ‘bring your own device’ so they have to adapt to the fact that business workers are also consumers, and don’t want to carry two devices.

Profectio: If you were CEO, what would you do starting tomorrow? I would do the following:


  1. Start the process to find a buyer.
  2. Kill the current marketing campaigns.
  3. Finish the process to find a buyer.

Terry: I would fire whoever is doing their marketing, and also whoever is leading the product design piece, and hire the very best user interface person on the planet, and a world class marketer to take over product development and positioning. Blackberry Bold Be Bold sucks not only once, it sucks twice. their prior positioning of “love” was also dumb. People love their iPhones. Conversely, people can’t live without their blackberries. They hate them, but they can’t live without them. Ask Barack Obama.

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