Senior RIM Exec Open letter to BlackBerry

  • Posted: 02 July 2011 02:49 AM #31

    Mav - 02 July 2011 05:25 AM

    Their window is small but it hasn’t yet shut.

    Maybe. But I think that RIM’s window may have shut as long as 18 months ago.

    This is not a war of devices, this is a war of ecosystems. Everybody is building a platform, which is far, far harder and more resource intensive than building a device.

    Apple has a platform. Android has a platform. Palm created a platform but ran out of cash. Microsoft abandoned their platform and built a new one from scratch. (And if Windows Phone 7 may have started too late, what chance does RIM have only starting now?) Nokia abandoned two platforms and joined with Microsoft’s platform because they realized that they didn’t have time to develop a platform of their own.

    No, I think that RIM’s window closed 18 months ago. It just took this long for anybody to notice.

    Addendum: I guess one argument would be that RIM could follow the Nokia path and create the hardware for another company’s software platform. I don’t think thats a viable option at all.

    What made RIM unique was their security and their BlackBerry messenger. Without those two unique features, RIM goes from an integrated hardware/software manufacturer to just another manufacturer for the likes of Android and Windows Phone 7. They might survive. But they’d be a shell of themselves. hardware without software is like a body without a soul.

    [ Edited: 02 July 2011 02:57 AM by FalKirk ]      
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    Posted: 02 July 2011 03:17 AM #32

    FalKirk - 02 July 2011 05:49 AM

    Addendum: I guess one argument would be that RIM could follow the Nokia path and create the hardware for another company’s software platform. I don’t think thats a viable option at all.

    It would be a desperate move, but all their options are pretty desperate. Maybe a partnership with HP/WebOS? The problem is RIM hasn’t shown any ability to create any new hardware that is compelling. It won’t matter if the OS is vertical or horizontal if the hardware sucks.

    This bet on QNX needs to clearly fail before they’ll do anything more drastic. I doubt they give it anything less than 2 more years. Meanwhile their Blackberry line fades to commodity status and BBM & BES becomes irrelevant.

         
  • Posted: 02 July 2011 06:58 AM #33

    Drew Bear - 02 July 2011 06:17 AM
    FalKirk - 02 July 2011 05:49 AM

    Addendum: I guess one argument would be that RIM could follow the Nokia path and create the hardware for another company’s software platform. I don’t think thats a viable option at all.

    It would be a desperate move, but all their options are pretty desperate. Maybe a partnership with HP/WebOS? The problem is RIM hasn’t shown any ability to create any new hardware that is compelling. It won’t matter if the OS is vertical or horizontal if the hardware sucks.

    This bet on QNX needs to clearly fail before they’ll do anything more drastic. I doubt they give it anything less than 2 more years. Meanwhile their Blackberry line fades to commodity status and BBM & BES becomes irrelevant.

    Horace, as usual, has something insightful to say on the possible sale of RIM. (I can’t link the article because it contains the word “buy”. But it’s at ASYMCO and it’s entitled “Capital.bg | Nobody wants to buy RIM”, June 27, 2011.)

    Mature companies are usually bought for their assets and not so much for their vision or priorities. The opposite is true for young companies who are selling themselves to the public via IPOs. For young companies the vision or priorities of business models is seen as more important. When companies are only valued for their assets, they are usually very under-valued. When companies are only valued for their vision, they are usually over-valued.

    RIM?s challenge is that nobody believes they have any vision and their assets are weak (no good ecosystem as I pointed out above.) So the price anybody would pay for RIM today would probably be far lower than what management thinks it?s worth. And since they are still profitable they won?t sell the company at a deep discount.

    So my guess is that we won?t see any acquisition soon.

    The problem with a partnership, in my opinion, is the same as the problem with a sale. Nobody think’s RIM is worth anything, so no one will want to partner with them at terms that RIM will find acceptable. And by the time RIM, in desperation, reaches out for a sale or a partnership, so much value will have been lost that there will be little point in anyone acquiring them for anything more than salvage.

         
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    Posted: 02 July 2011 02:01 PM #34

    Yes, any partner RIM finds would need to be equally desperate. RIM itself is close, but HP is not. It’s a bit like the Nokia/Microsoft partnership. The difference is Nokia actually has made some interesting hardware recently and Microsoft made the transition to WP7.

         
  • Posted: 02 July 2011 03:04 PM #35

    With regards to RIMM’s survival a bigger question is just how many ecosystems the market can support?

    iOS
    Fragmented Android
    WP7
    WebOS
    QNX

    I think 4 is too many, and 5 is out of the question.  I see the survivors as iOS, WP7 and WebOS, in about that order.

    Until the NOK deal I didn’t see MSFT’s WP7 as a survivor at all.  But now, coupling MSFT’s resources with NOK’s brand and share could prove successful.  I don’t see MSFT licensing WP7 to others.  Why would any other firm want to license against the MSFT/NOK duo?

    Android is going to dissolve into 2 or 3 manufacturers (look at history of Wintel manufacturers), none of which has the clout to create an effective ecosystem.

    From speaking with Palm engineers I believe HP has the vision to be successful, and they certainly have the resources and brand.

    That leaves RIMM, which clearly does not have a vision, and only limited resources.  Blackberry’s hook is being marginalized by competing mobile OSs that are growing more secure, taking away the primary thing that made the Blackberry unique.  Further RIMM has no design sense.  They are the Edsel of the mobile industry.

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    You can’t do more, make more, be more, than the next guy, if you think like the next guy. Think different.

         
  • Posted: 02 July 2011 04:05 PM #36

    adamthompson3232 - 02 July 2011 06:08 PM

    Further, while the Blackberry name/brand used to be an asset as it was synonomous with cutting-edge phone technology, it is now a huge negative. People think of Blackberry as an antiquated, crappy phone and there really is no way to come back from that. The momentum is building in the wrong direction for Blackberry. They need to rename the product altogether…and sooner than later or their sales will all but disappear. I am shorting RIMM heavily in the very near future as I think their days are numbered. Once QNX hits the market and fails all will be lost.

    It appears that RIMM management has enough dysfunction to make room here for shorting it.  I wish I had when I sold RIMM in the 70s—a big regret not to short.

    Next time you’re in a T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T retail store, observe the diminished shelf space accorded to RIM handsets.  It’s dramatic.

         
  • Posted: 02 July 2011 05:31 PM #37

    Gregg Thurman - 02 July 2011 06:04 PM

    With regards to RIMM’s survival a bigger question is just how many ecosystems the market can support?

    iOS
    Fragmented Android
    WP7
    WebOS
    QNX

    I think 4 is too many, and 5 is out of the question.  I see the survivors as iOS, WP7 and WebOS, in about that order.

    Android is going to dissolve into 2 or 3 manufacturers (look at history of Wintel manufacturers), none of which has the clout to create an effective ecosystem.

    The problem Android has is that the manufacturers are looking to Google to create the massive ecosystem necessary to compete with Apple. This only makes sense. If would be counter-productive for each individual manufacturer to try to create their own ecosystem.

    However, Google has proven to be very bad at this. Their heart is just not in it. They don’t have anything like iTunes, their version of the App Store is really a bazaar where most anything goes, they don’t even have any laptop or computer integration at all. And the the idea of Google tying together an iPod Touch-like device, a phone, a tablet and a desktop is laughable.

    Now that I think on it that way, can you see HP creating the kind of ecosystem necessary to compete with Apple’s? It just doesn’t seem to be in their corporate DNA.

    Now Microsoft could do it. They’ve got the resources and the experience. But it would be all Micrsofted up. Remember the Zune marketplace? Instead paying 99 cents for a song, you had to buy credits in blocks and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t spend all of the credits on a purchase so you always had to either buy more credits or abandon the unspent credits. It’s that kind of retail slight of hand that makes me hate Microsoft. Still, they do have the chops to create the massive ecosystem necessary to compete with Apple’s.

    Ahhhhhhhhh, it’s not going to happen. Microsoft is going to shoot themselves so badly in the foot with their new “Windows 8” tablet that they’ll be limping for years. With only a Zune like market share for Windows Phone 7 and a great big hole in the place where their tablet strategy should be, Microsoft will never be able to create the kind of integrated ecosystem that it could have, and should have, created long, long ago.

         
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    Posted: 02 July 2011 10:03 PM #38

    Gregg Thurman - 02 July 2011 06:04 PM

    I think 4 is too many, and 5 is out of the question.  I see the survivors as iOS, WP7 and WebOS, in about that order.

    Android is going to dissolve into 2 or 3 manufacturers (look at history of Wintel manufacturers), none of which has the clout to create an effective ecosystem.

    I agree there will eventually be a shake-out, but not anytime soon. I think all the players will still be around in 2015.

    The Android ecosystem is already robust enough to sustain itself. The main attraction is and will always be cheap devices. That is a big enough draw to keep the Android installed base growing for some time.

         
  • Posted: 02 July 2011 10:16 PM #39

    Drew Bear - 03 July 2011 01:03 AM

    I agree there will eventually be a shake-out, but not anytime soon. I think all the players will still be around in 2015.

    Maybe. That seems perfectly sensible. But look at what has happened in the past 4 years:

    2007: iPhone
    2008: Android
    2009: Palm goes bankrupt, acquired by HP; Windows kills Windows Mobile, starts new mobile operating system
    2010: iPad; Nokia abandons their platforms
    2011: RIM possibly imploding. We’ll see.

    By 2015, we could have another bankruptcy, another abandoned platform, another disruptive product like the iPhone or the iPad. Disruption is moving at an incredible pace!