Skatter

RIM Is Hanging By A Single Thread: The “BlackBerry” Name

Poor RIM. The media is bashing the company over and over again with no restrain. Common criticisms include the PlayBook’s utter failure and RIM’s incapability to keep up with advances in the mobile industry. I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I was making these types of complaints a year ago while everyone else remained fairly confident that RIM could pull through. Fast forward to today, and it is not looking too good for them.

If anything, their own poor decisions are what is bringing the company down. They launched the BlackBerry Torch last August into a market heavily populated with Android phones and the brand new iPhone 4. It has a comparably sluggish 624 MHz processor, a sub-par operating system, and an antiquated display resolution. At the time of its release, Android phones were already twice as fast in many cases and the iPhone 4 had the industry leading retina display. While hardware specs are not the only important factor, RIM was a flight of stairs behind in every category.

This year, the company released the PlayBook, its first attempt at a tablet. It lacks native email, contacts, and calendar apps. Need I say more?

But believe it or not, in the midst of all these downfalls, RIM is still hanging by a single thread. The “BlackBerry” name is the only thing keeping the fractured company from falling into a dark pit of failure and despair. Before I mock people who buy a BlackBerry mercilessly, I first ask why. “We are in a world in which the capabilities of these tiny smart phones seem endless,” I say. “You bought a BlackBerry. Why?” I get varying answers, but all of them have a central theme. It is a BlackBerry.

RIM has something special that other companies dream about having: a brand that is so well-known. Even as it now represents incredibly mediocre products, consumers still want to buy a BlackBerry. The average Joe really does not know what is going on with RIM. They do not know about specifications or software. All they know is the “BlackBerry” name is mainstream, so they dive right into the purchase.

You might think RIM would take advantage of this immense privilege by actually releasing competitive products to give the name a boost. Finally, they are. A few BlackBerry devices are in the works for the end of this year and early 2012 with some nice specifications, which could be the silver lining. Unfortunately, by then it might be too late. RIM’s profit is already plummeting. During first quarter, it fell 9.6% to $695 million, down from $769 million for the same quarter last year. PlayBook shipments were poor too at just 500,000. To compare, Apple sold 4.69 million iPads within the aforementioned time frame. And that is sold iPads, not shipped.

All the evidence is very clear. RIM is not doing well at all. They can try to pretty up the statistics however they want, but the company faces some huge problems. People are already starting to realize the benefits of leaving their once capable BlackBerry in favor of an Android powerhouse or a slick iPhone. RIM is still hanging by that single thread, but it is weakening with each day that goes by.