Cracking Down

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company best known for creating the BlackBerry smartphone, was recently placed on the endangered companies list by influential business writer Henry Blodget of Business Insider. Blodget’s controversial May 19 web headline pronounced that “RIM’s toast,” while his article’s otherwise identical print version at Canadian Business stated that “RIM is dead.”

Has anyone informed the more than 40 million worldwide users of the device that has been called the CrackBerry, the crack cocaine of smartphones? Oh, make that, more than 40 million but minus one, because Blodget himself has switched, albeit after great personal debate, to Apple-based methamphetamine.

Without doubt the über-popular BlackBerry enjoyed more than a decade of solid market domination since its introduction in 1999; however, consider for just one example the transition from phonograph to mp3 player, and look no further for proof that the slow, sick or weak gazelles in business are inevitably going to fall prey to changing times. For every Nintendo on the cutting edge of development, there’s an Atari waiting to shake hands with Michael Jackson’s other four brothers in long-term obscurity.

Blodget maintains that the BlackBerry simply cannot compete with the iPhone or Android, which will spell the end for the Waterloo-based manufacturer. As for RIM itself, he cites additional reasons for the company’s time as having passed, including RIM’s products no longer being indisputably best in class and the smartphone arena now being driven by apps, a category in which RIM has fewer developers.

Last August, the semi-anticipated BlackBerry Torch slider phone sold 150,000 units in its first three days. A respectable number, until ranked against Apple’s three-day sales of 1.7 million units for iPhone 4. “You’ll just be amazed by how it’s a quantum leap over anything that’s out there,” said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, in the leadup to the Torch’s release. Alas, a ‘leap year’ was not registered.

Surely, Balsillie wasn’t referring to the 1989-1993 TV series Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula, wherein Bakula’s character ‘leaped’ into people in the past in order to change history for the better. Then again, as Blodget describes the current situation, the management at RIM is so behind the times, only a product ahead of the curve (like the “transparent aluminum” from Star Trek IV) can reverse the telecom/wireless company’s declining fortunes.

It’s possible that the BlackBerry will have more traction than forecast. Stock marketers and general big business types do not embrace change quickly, and they are the demographic that put the BlackBerry on top in the first place. The iPhone and iPad have not (yet) proven to be game changers à la iPod, but they are formidable — and Blodget suspects that will be enough.

Ultimately, bold pronouncements that RIM will cease to exist are more than likely typical corporate hyper-drama, wherein an admittedly humiliating slip in stature from major to minor tech player signifies spiritual death, versus the headline-generator suggesting that all of RIM’s base belonging to Apple. Regardless of whether RIM’s market share shrinks, per Blodget, to the level of respectable Nokia or irrelevant Palm, the real losers in all of this will be local residents of Waterloo, Ontario where the company is based and from whence come the vast majority of its almost 20,000 employees. One imagines some bitterly amusing social networking updates, “No more RIMjobs,” to follow.

Speaking of which, the latest/best/newest technological tools excel at facilitating Twitter/Facebook status updates. They’re so efficient now that they even include the model and brand of your mobile device, just in case anyone out there needs to confirm that you are truly cutting edge.

The BlackBerry likely won’t go on to carry the elder statesman cachet of a rotary phone. Even if it was to do so, how many old-school rotary phone owners do you know?

Image courtesy of MattHurst.


15 thoughts on “Cracking Down”

  1. Scathing review, all without mention of the DOA Playbook. As an owner of both a Playbook and an iPad 2, I can honestly say I haven’t even turned on the Playbook since getting the iPad 2. Game, set, match? Eh, there was no comparison to begin with… Nice knowing ya, RIM!

  2. Reality? Apps do make the winners, as Windows was not the best operating environment (to become an OS) out there, but it’s the apps, that drive the OS which drives the hardware. RiM needs to open up a platform to create apps to push demand, or it WILL fade in market share over time.

  3. Well I am a wolf not one of the sheep. Sheep use iphones. Plus I like to support the underdog. Besides I am canadian which I doubt you are. Way to supporting a company that isn’t canadian and joining the thousands of sheep.

  4. Oh and after a little digging you figures regarding sales of the torch sre wrong. Plus since both companies sell more than one phone how about list sales period? I am going to end this subscription soon. Too many corporate whores are hired to make articles you make me sick. We don’t want canada to succeed do we? Do us all a fav and move to the states. I am proud to support rim BECAUSE they are canadian

  5. RIM will pull through…they might b going through a rough patch but they’ll be ok…as a supporter of BB i will continue to buy their phones. and i happen to find they tablet very convenient..fits in almost any pocket. and in regards to apps they’ll get there soon. qnx is all i gotta say….

  6. Well, now you know one. I have a rotary phone, and a land line, and intend to keep it as long as possible. It works when the power goes out, and doesn’t EVER need re-charging … unlike the other crap I also have that gets interrupted or killed by many things. And if I have a 24 inch screen with my computer, why would I want to play games on my iPhone? But yes, Mac Rules. 🙂

  7. At least there are others here that agree with me and understand. I didnt see xy do an article on the iphone when it had that problem with the antenna??? Or how about the GPS tracking???? BB doesnt remember where you are at all times and keep track of that.

  8. Plus if people just support one company thats not good. Competition is a good thing. Not only is RIM successful you didnt do research. RIM has a new series of phones coming out that will be much better than these.

    BB OS7 and the Blackberry Bold 9900/9930 coming
    this summer! (The iphone killer) Because its not all about me its about us.

  9. Rotary phones are great they work when the power doesn’t. Would be great if xy had articles that weren’t so slanted towardsone company. This article in short just says ” look at me! I’m a corporate sellout!” Try articles with a shred of acual research and not some teenager getting horny over his
    Iphone. Its just a phone everyone is entitled to their opinion BUT that’s what the problem with this is- all opinion no
    Research. I agree with others like Mr Guy and am thankful
    For the info! I didn’t know Blackberry was canadian. I prefer
    Supporting canadian products as much as possible to
    Continue the economic growth in Canada. Feel free to email
    Me anytime about this new Blackberry model sounds exciting!

  10. Just look for my username mrguy in the forums on or check out the main page. If you dont see it enter 9930 or 9900 into search on the Blackberry site. Gives all the specs and how the new Blackberry OS7 will change the world of smartphones forever. Its quite a bit faster. I myself have been fortunate to be at a public function where I met a gentlemen that demonstrated to me the beta. Its quite promising. Much faster than OS6 and very good improvements. I cant say more as the OS itself is very hush hush at this time.

  11. Interesting comments. I agree with the comment from Boomer on one sided commentaries. This is just an opinionated article. There isnt any research. Too bad this online magazine lets people like this “kid” do articles of this kind. A suggestion XY, dont let this kid do any more articles he needs to go back to school and learn about research again. The articles shouldnt be so opinionated, instead of wow you think this company is going under how about compare? Or like Mr Guy says research? Guess this kid never checked out the new OS which I wasnt aware of myself. Thanks Mr Guy and Boomer for your comments. After reading about the new OS its exciting. The new OS is very promising from what I can see on the site. Of course Mr Guy got to experience the new software which is lucky for you. I will stay tuned as I dont own a smartphone right now but have been shopping for one. I think I will wait for the new Blackberries. The current ones arent bad just the newer models with OS7 sound great!

  12. So true. He sounds like he is horny for his iphone. Relax! Its just a phone….life is about so much more!

  13. I don’t–and have never–owned a smart phone of any variety, either iPhone or BlackBerry. This is an opinion article based on Henry Blodget’s Canadian Business & Business Insider features.

    I also contradict the headline that ‘RIM is dead’ by pointing out that all these technological developments mean is a decrease in market share, not the death of RIM.

    I’m glad many of you are happy with your phones.

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