What RIM Did Wrong

by Michael Camilleri

I am not a smart phone analyst. I am not a technology analyst. I am a lawyer that likes technology.

Jim Dalrymple is also not a smart phone analyst. He is also not a technology analyst. He is a professional blogger, focusing on Apple. I think he does a good job when he writes about Apple but he shows his ignorance in this post about what RIM did wrong.

Dalrymple suggests that RIM’s problem was that they didn’t ‘innovate’. This is wrong. RIM’s problem was that their product was dependent on a network for its value and they didn’t control the network. I had a BlackBerry and it was great. It was particularly great at email. You know who really cares about email? Business people. Business people live and breathe email. The BlackBerry cleaned up in that market.

You know who else really loves email? Everybody. The problem for RIM is that while business people could get BlackBerries, safe in the knowledge that the office was going to cover that data charge, consumers couldn’t. Consumers were left to fret over how much it would cost (surely too much) and what the pay off would be in additional convenience (surely not enough).

RIM tried to create consumer phones but they couldn’t get the interest of a public that had been taught to fear data charges. The original iPhone didn’t have this problem because: a) Apple negotiated a sweet deal for customers with AT&T; and b) even if you had just used your iPhone like your Nokia 6100, it at least got rid of needing to carry around an iPod and a phone.

So RIM’s problem wasn’t innovation. RIM’s problem was that it didn’t control the part of its business where the value came from.

As it is, we now live in a world where this is the reality. RIM has to beat not only that but Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Google and Microsoft. They have no hope.