RIM Races toward Revival in the face of Rejections
By Mike Anderson
RIM has its future bet on the new BlackBerry 10 OS and BlackBerry 10 devices. The reviews of early prototypes and beta versions of the OS have been positive. Developers have been courted in droves, and even given financial incentives to bring apps to market before there is a market for them. RIM has introduced solid new features to improve the user experience, and both touch and physical keyboard devices will be offered. But the momentum that has already been lost to iOS and Android, the product delays that have pushed availability into 2013, and high profile business and government losses will result in marginal improvement at best in 2013.
RIM’s Legacy Product Lineup Fading
RIM’s entire current product line is tired and no longer able to keep pace. The devices are overtaken by the touch-centric iOS and Android phones, the BlackBerry OS is unable to attract developers to create a thriving app ecosystem, and BES is only useful for the legacy devices that are on their way out. The result has been a dramatic fall in market share for RIM, with just enough activity to keep its installed base steady.
Timing of RIM’s BlackBerry 10 delays will also end up being significant. Although loyal BlackBerry users are likely to hold out, missing out on the 2012 holiday season will prove to be another major hit in RIM’s ability to gain traction in the broader market. The leaders – Apple and Samsung – both have brand new devices in the market, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 will also take some share.
RIM Losses in Business
There have been some highly visible losses in big business. Yahoo and Qantas have switched. Both have moved away from BlackBerry devices as their standards. Qantas moved to iPhone as part of a revamped mobility strategy and effort to save money with carriers. Yahoo dropped BlackBerry as their company-issued devices, moving instead toward user choice from an approved list of devices. As the BYOD movement continues to take root and enterprises bring MDM tools in house, RIM’s grip on business will continue to loosen.
Eroding Influence in a Critical BlackBerry Segment
More telling is erosion in the critical, security dependent government agencies. Halliburton and Booz Allen Hamilton, both leading providers to government, have moved away from BlackBerry. With the move to choice between iOS and Android phones comes deployment of new MDM tools, and the likely elimination of BES.
RIM is continuing to lose its foothold in key government agencies. The NOAA, NTSB, Immigrations and Customs and TSA have all dropped BlackBerry in favor of iOS and Android. The Defense Department has new mobile management software tool in the procurement process, and it specifies iOS and Android but not BlackBerry. In addition, the GSA expanded from BlackBerry-only to include support for other mobile OS platforms. This deterioration in the government sector, where RIM’s security has been competitive advantage, is a severe blow. Yet another door has been blown open to enable iOS and Android – and possibly Windows Phone – to gain a foothold in a core BlackBerry segment.
No Number 3 For RIM in 2013
RIM has made positive moves to remake and revive the company. BlackBerry 10 holds promise, and early reaction hints at reasonable market acceptance. The next incarnation of BES promises more open mobile management, better reflecting the multi-vendor nature of mobility. However, RIM has left itself largely defenseless against the competition through all of 2012. The loss of exclusivity in government and other security-sensitive segments will force head-to-head competition at the device and OS level. Android, iOS and Windows Phone are taking share from BlackBerry. BlackBerry will only be able to capture a small share in those circumstances, and 2013 will be another difficult year for RIM.