July 26, 2011 Leave a comment
The Smartphone War has been brewing on for a couple of years now, with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and RIM duking it out to be the top competitor. As our mobile world continues to grow, and more people get away from their PC’s and spend more time on smartphones and tablets, it’s important to provide the most functionality possible to ensure your customer base stays loyal. That being said, there’s about to be a casualty in the smartphone war, and a significant one at that.
Research in Motion (RIM), until just a few short years ago, was the undisputed winner of the smartphone war when it was just between them and Microsoft. Blackberry phones featured an intuitive, easy to use email service that was met unrivaled. It had an amazing, exclusive messaging system that worked similar to instant messaging, with other Blackberry users. Blackberry phones were the thing to have at one point. And then came Apple’s Blackberry killer, the iPhone. Featuring it’s slick design and easy to use touch screen, the iPhone put a massive target on RIM, and up until recently, RIM has done just fine in competition. But now, it can’t keep up.
RIM announced yesterday that it was laying 2,000 of it’s near 20,000 employees off, citing that it was restructuring the company to better compete with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, it’s three main competitors. Not a good sign of a business that’s trying to create and sell quality phone products, if you ask me. It looks as if RIM is on the verge of losing the smartphone war, and bowing out very ungracefully.
Let’s take a look at two of the products that RIM has released in the past year. There’s the Blackberry Torch, which was the spiritual successor to the semi-popular Blackberry Storm, the first touchscreen device from RIM that was met with very mediocre fanfare. The torch featured a brand new version of Blackberry OS, which, according to sources that have used it, is miles better than the previous version…but still not all that great. The Torch featured a unique slide-up keyboard that was new to the Blackberry line, but also featured all of the functionality of a touchscreen phone.
Then theres the Blackberry Playbook, the seven-inch tablet that RIM released earlier this year. The tablet features everything you like in a tablet, with the Blackberry OS right on top of it. The Playbook has been met with some pretty terrible reviews, leading consumers to believe that they are better off using an Android tablet, or better yet, an iPad. In my time with the Playbook, I had a very hard time getting the device to even turn on, and when I did turn it on, I found it to be a little sluggish and not worth the hype. One cool feature that is being implemented into the Playbook is the Android Market, allowing users of the tablet to play games and use software that’s written for Android.
With the mobile industry constantly evolving, RIM has definitely made some mistakes. Without it’s own proper app store (or market, or portal, or anything that won’t get them sued by Apple), they won’t get very far. Yes, they have one, but it doesn’t have the support of developers, which leads to consumers not having much interest either. Without superior build quality (let’s face it, some of RIM’s phones haven’t been built all that great, as of late), and superior customization options, RIM is doomed to exist as a smartphone manufacturer. There has been talk that the Blackberry Messenger will be developed for Android and iOS devices. The functionality of that would be superior to text messaging, and easy to use, as well. If only they could port over their superior email client, as well, then RIM could exist better as a software manufacturer, and let their three competitors steal the show completely.
It will certainly be interesting to watch the future of RIM unfold over the next few months. With these layoffs, and the lack of innovative hardware (the company is reportedly announcing a new phone today), it just appears that they are doomed to exist.