Thursday, July 07, 2011

My thoughts on BlackBerry

Since everyone seems to be asking me:
  • They're going through tough times and they might not be able to recover.
  • Their tablet is not that cool and they will likely pull the plug on it.
  • They are rushing products and operating systems to market half-baked and not fully tested, which is making people abandon the platform.  Unfortunately, one of the biggest complaints on the other side is that they don't have enough cool features in new software fast enough, so it's a bit of catch 22 for them.
  • They have a massive installed base in corporations, including corporations that have sunk serious dollars into their own BlackBerry enterprise servers.
  • They have a pretty large installed base of casual users and the whole BBM thing is a big deal; it may become less of a big deal when Apple releases iMessage, but iMessage isn't going to work on the BlackBerry hardware that's already out there, so there would need to be an even larger platform defection.
  • I am still much more productive sending e-mail on my BlackBerry device than I am on my iPhone -- I can type faster and with more accuracy.
  • BlackBerrys still have user-replaceable batteries and iPhones do not.
Nothing that I said above hasn't been said by someone else.

Here's what I really think: RIM needs to turn their business model into that of a software provider.  If they can figure out how to get their software running on Android and make all the IT geeks that run BES servers happy about the remote control, they can likely save that business segment and, maybe, save their business.  Additionally, they should focus on improving the phones that they are very successful with: the high-end Bold and the Curve, which, in my opinion, are the most pervasive BlackBerry devices that I see people use; assuming that they can sort out the software side, let the Android device manufacturers win the touchscreen hardware war.  Instead of focusing on setting the hardware curve or playing catch-up, just jam cooler features (higher megapixel cameras, NFC chips, larger on-board storage, etc.) into similar form factors that get incremental changes (different surfaces, different finishes, smaller and lighter cases) with each revision.

(obviously it would be cool and huge for them if they could figure out iOS integration as well)

Just my $0.02, but I wouldn't be buying the stock until they figure out a viable strategy.

PS -- chances are better than they have ever been that RIM will get acquired, but even if that happens, you have to question the end strategy and justification and, in the case of an acquisition, I would still argue that it's an enterprise software play.

No comments: