re: Secret CIO: RIM, What's Going On?
Interestingly enough I've been wondering the same thing. The US is a fickle market as you point out. We want it to be trendy, sexy, so not yesterday's news and we don't want to pay for it. However, I believe that this is part of the allure of RIM - its not trendy, it just keeps delivering.
Not without its problems, RIM has enjoyed great press on its network and security. How many other providers were threatened by various sovereign states to have its service banned because it was "too secure" and they didn't have direct access to RIM servers?
My opinion is that RIM is not for the lemming masses as is iP*. If you want to appeal to the lemmings you have to make it dirt cheap and full of marketing traps that keep you moving from one platform to another or to keep buying apps which most gen Xrs are willing to do as they did dial tones.
RIM's strengths have always been in its business focus. The bottom line is that retail is where the money is. The retail market is interested in bread and circus and RIM doesn't exactly have a big offering either in handheld platforms or apps.
RIM can no longer try to squeeze utility out of its one model fits all customers sales and marketing or devices. I for one love my crackberry and am intrigued by the iPad. However the iPad and all other tablets lack one very important feature - no phone. To me it is pointless to have yet another wireless device unless I can access my providers cell network - NOT VOIP.
I am an engineer so I get all the challenges that go along with that, but I am still waiting. Having to tether my Blackberry to my PlayBook or my iPhone to my iPad is just plain lame.
Mobile device app developers are retail driven. They are looking for volume or a high end business venue. Writing business apps isn't "cuul" but creating the latest game that lands at the top of the charts is even if its just for a month.
Development platform ease is another issue. Developers are not going to chase after a platform if the development environment is arcane and a bummer to work with and get support for.
I think RIM can still pull out a winner if it acts decisively. It would be a real shame to see its network go on the auction block only to get sucked up by one of the megamonopolies in the wireless world.
I guess if I were at the healm I'd do the following:
* Lighten redundant capabilities within the core company including salary cuts for all management and cut all management that isn't contributing to the bottom line in a real and material fashion. Do NOT screw with the operations folks or key development. In fact make it clear to operations and development that you are making these moves to keep them going strong. Incent operations and development.
* Aggressively market the PlayBook with highly leveraged pricing on device and data plans. Its not too late to try and buy marketshare.
* Incent the development community to build applications for both retail and business markets. This includes free equipment and even market research on applications that may be sorely needed. Talk to your end users and prospects, do some real down and dirty product research and build what's needed.
* Fund a RIM incubator in several large metro areas that are known for their forward thinking and creativity. Don't just throw money at people - fund them. Be involved by providing product marketing research and direction without cramping their creativity. If someone comes in with an idea that is doable then do it.
* Develop a dual strategy for sales and marketing. Separate the business side from the retail side. Hire rockstars on each side of the sales planetary system and get down to business.
* Design devices that are really innovative at least every bit as good as the iPad in every respect. APPL's industrial design and engineering is fantastic. When APPL designs something its like the Art Deco period where form is at least as important as function if not more so. Don't cheap out!
* Do all of the above with gusto because the alternative is a slow (possibly not so slow the way you're bleeding cash) painful death. And at least if you fail, you fail and die with your guns blazing instead of wimpering in the corner.
Call it what you will. The ramblings of a madman or the harsh reality of things to come.