News
2/3/2012
04:28 PM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
Slideshows
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail

How IT Views RIM's Future: Exclusive Research

IT professionals have strong feelings about RIM, its products, and its plight. But the real issue is end user device preference.




In late January, RIM announced that its co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Balsillie would step aside and that COO Thorsten Heins would step into the top job. The stock market shaved a few more dollars off the already depressed RIM stock price, and articles started flying about the inadequacy of the move to fix RIM's woes. While investors and pundits are an important group to watch, we wanted to learn what IT professionals charged with managing smartphone strategy thought about RIM and its new leadership.

We surveyed 536 IT professionals to get their opinions on RIM, its products, its management, and its prospects for the future. Respondents were largely IT managers and executives (55%) or IT staff (27%), with the rest made up of consultants, line of business managers, and non-IT executives. All but 1% had either purchased RIM/BlackBerry products for their business (72%) or evaluated them (19%). Respondents came from companies of all sizes, with 34% representing companies of less than 500 employees, 33% from companies with 500 to 5,000, and 32% from companies with more than 5,000 workers.

While IT professionals have strong feelings about RIM, its products, and its plight, they also realize that, for the most part, the real issue is end user preference. Many remarked how they personally still like Blackberry products, but that most end users didn't share their sentiments. One IT pro put it this way: "I have always loved the BlackBerry for business; but users are wanting more. I personally still use BlackBerry." Another offered this observation: "I am personally a BlackBerry user and love it, especially the full keyboard. However, they seem to not be coming out with new technology. Apps are not as readily available for the Blackberries as they are for the Android and IPhones."

And therein lies the rub: While RIM worked to perfect their messaging device, Apple and Google created the next generation--a true mobile computing platform. It's hard not to make comparisons to the myriad of technology companies that myopically improved what they knew rather than working to create the next great thing.

One poll respondent offered this comparison: "RIM kept too much control over their BlackBerry System. Much like Xerox, which missed the personal desktop computer market because it was too narrowly focused in its vision of customer needs."

Another made this comparison: "Read the story about Wang Laboratories. RIM is hauntingly similar. [It offered a] Great product but was caught in the onslaught of a product that does more for the person holding the device. RIM can tout security and battery life all it wants, but the consumer really doesn't care. Corporate IT cares, but we can't stop the mob holding the smartphones and torches."

So in the end, IT pros know there's no point in insisting on a device that users don't want.


IT pros universally think that RIM isn't the market leader. It's a matter of whether the lead is completely lost, or whether RIM is simply in the process of losing it.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




RIM's leadership structure, with its co-CEOs, has been an odd one from its outset. Lazaridis and Balsillie concentrated on making a great messaging device, which the BlackBerry still is. But browser performance has never been good, and an app story has yet to materialize for the BlackBerry. Only 5% of our respondents are willing to let the CEO pair off the hook. But would someone else have done better? Not many companies invent the successor to their own market leading product.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




While it's not hard to make the case that the management team of the day should be largely held accountable for RIM's problems, it's tougher to speculate on why RIM's board took what appears to be a rather tame corrective step by promoting Thorsten Heins. He's the company's former COO and veteran of communications giant Siemens. Somewhat apparently held back by English as an adopted language, Heins first called his choice into action by saying that RIM would largely stay its course on his watch.

He later did him himself no favor by saying that RIM "wasn't baking cookies." We're not sure who suggested they were baking cookies, but execution delays and the company's hodgepodge of operating systems would have been better topics for him to address.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




Though survey respondents are resigned to the need to support other phones, most aren't looking to dump either BlackBerry phones or the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Only about a third say they're looking to create RIM-free environment, while the rest are willing to support the BlackBerry as long as someone in their organization uses the phones. Only a small handful see RIM use continuing as it is. We're willing to bet that a good fraction of those people have particular security needs, such as many government sector users.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




For those who see a diminished role for RIM products, the reasoning is painfully blunt--both users and IT pros are largely losing interest in the platform. That in turn brings the long term viability of the company into question. Given RIM's worldwide presence, we think the company will be around a while, but whether it has even a remote chance of keeping pace with innovations from Apple and the Android cadre is another matter. A large number of respondents chose "other" for this question. The option we should have added to the list was the cost of maintaining the BES environment. Microsoft's EAS is free to Exchange customers, which for many people makes it hard to beat. It's also not as complete as BES.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




The BlackBerry Enterprise Server has a slightly larger fraction of haters than do the BlackBerry phones. Just under half of respondents want BES gone. Slightly more than half are willing to keep it around. Only a small fraction see it as unique in the market. While that once was the case, a veritable swarm of vendors now will sell you mobile device management system with similar capabilities.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




While BES looks to have some life left in it, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, the company's intended successor to BES, has a tough audience to convince. Almost half have made up their minds not to migrate to the product, while only 4% are sure they will. The rest will figure it out. Out of the gate, RIM has made classic mistakes in messaging around BMF. The company's early messaging has been that while the BMF can manage Apple and Android phones too, you'll be able to do far more with Blackberry phones. Just what IT pros are looking for, a system that treats the preferred phones of their users as second-class citizens.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




One might think that with half of IT pros being either satisfied or very satisfied with RIM's products, the company would be in better shape in U.S. enterprises. The problem is that it's not the opinions of IT that matter. There's no point in supporting products that users no longer want.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




Even though user opinions matter a lot, IT gets a say too. We asked IT pros to rank 11 features of mobile devices. We're willing to bet that users would come up with a very different ranking. That's not good--user priorities and IT's should be better aligned. IT pros put the ability to support both personal and work use on the device at the bottom of the list. If you asked users how much they'd value having just one device to carry, they'd tell you it's pretty important--a lot more important than letting IT have the ability to arbitrarily exclude apps (for instance).

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




So how does RIM do against our feature list? For some of IT's top priority items it does pretty well. But for items that are likely to be higher on end user lists, the Blackberry doesn't do well at all. The deal breaker is the ability to run apps. Mobile devices simply have to do more than email.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch




As a result of evolving user preferences and IT's evolving desire to do more with mobile devices than just email and calendaring, the landscape for mobile phones is expected to soon be far more complex for most organizations than it is today. IT pros are expecting that they'll support a panopoly of devices.

Recommended Reading

RIM Sees Continued BlackBerry Growth From Government Users

New CEO Won't Stop RIM's Bleeding: Exclusive Research

RIM BlackBerry 10 Image Leaks

RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

For RIM, New CEO Is Not Enough

RIM's New CEO: 5 Must-Do Items

RIM $299 PlayBook Sale On Again

RIM Targets September For BlackBerry 10 Launch

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Email This  | 
Print  | 
RSS
More Insights
Copyright © 2020 UBM Electronics, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service