Sentiment for Research in Motion is shifting. After reaching a multi-year low just two-months ago in late-September, RIM responded to market naysayers by reporting a growth in users. In its last quarter, RIM grew its user base to 80 million subscribers, and even increased sales by 2% from the previous quarter. Going into the holiday quarter without a new product, RIM is certain to report nearly flat or declining subscribers.
Severe competition from Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy 3, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, and Google’s Nexus 4 could wear down RIM in the short-term. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is also rolling out globally. The device was reportedly sold-out in Germany, too.
Fierce competition absolutely matters, because it makes the long-term recovery in RIM more difficult, the longer it takes for RIM to finally re-establish itself.
Tonight, Kevin O’Leary was asked on the Lang and O’Leary Exchange if RIM was back. Corporate security was cited as a reason to keep Blackberry devices. O’Leary said that security does not matter as much. It mattered decades ago, and now corporations are moving on. Corporations are allowing workers to BYOD – bring your own devices. This permanent shift adds to the challenges RIM faces, regardless of Blackberry 10. O’Leary also said that a major carrier no longer showcases a Blackberry. When BB10 launches, RIM needs to start all over again to market its new devices.
Investment-wise, O’Leary said RIM is no more than a short-term trade.
Still, for RIM to survive 2013 into 2014, it must stick to its roots but be an entirely responsive company. BB10 must be bug-free, responsive, and must make communicating fun again. Consumers and corporations are actually communicating less by email and by phone. Social media permanently shifted “communicating” to online chatting, tweeting, Facebook messaging, and LinkedIn messaging.
RIM will be unable to reverse this permanent shift, but Blackberry 10’s new paradigm on workflow should get Android and Apple users at least curiously looking at what BB10 has to offer.
When BB10 launches on January (01) 30 2013, or 3 + 0 + 0 +1 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 10, the debate on RIM surviving or failing will make way for what the device actually has to offer users.
BB10 will provide some stability for RIM’s user-base in 2013. BB10 will provide moderate subscribership stability or growth for the same reasons that are RIM’s strength:
1. Strong Carrier Relationship
RIM’s strong carrier relationship was not diminished as the company delayed BB10. RIM recently submitted BB10 for carrier certification.
2. Renewed Interest from Enterprise Customers
BYOD is a permanent phenomenon, but a well-designed Blackberry 10 will renew customer interest in the device. The integration of Playbook and Blackberry smartphones will make more sense, and will be more cost-effective for enterprise customers to manage.
3. Budget Blackberries
Not to ignore the budget sector, RIM will release a Curve-version of Blackberry 10. This could help the company grow in the Emerging Markets.
Voice chat over BBM was recently released in beta on the existing Blackberry devices (BBOS7). Voice chat on BBM, loyalty amongst users for BBM, and efficient communications via BBM should continue to appeal the loyal fan base.
5. Superior Touch-Screen for Inputting
iPhone and Android users love their devices, but grumble when asked about the ease for inputting. While voice-recognition eases typing, Blackberry’s new keyboard and predictive text should be a welcome improvement.
6. Keyboard Model
Users who swear to keyboard-based devices will still have a Curve and Bold model to choose from.
7. App Developer Support
RIM’s SDK release for Blackberry 10 will make it easier and less resource-intensive for developers to build applications. RIM also demonstrated that Android developers may quickly port their application to Blackberry.
8. Surprisingly Improved App Store
A refreshed Blackberry 10 App Store will roll out for the smartphones and for RIM tablets. Less is more, as RIM showcases the top, most usable apps to its users, the site will generate more frequent downloads.
9. Desire for Third Player in Industry
Users have complaints about iPhone and Android, and hope that Windows Phone will survive. They also hope RIM will survive, because the industry needs a third player. Having an additional, dominant player keeps competition thriving, and pushes innovation. Everyone wins.
10. Playbook Tablet SNAFU Now a Strength
RIM’s SNAFU for the Playbook launch gave the company an opportunity to restructure its development and infrastructure teams. It also gave RIM a better understanding on how to design the Blackberry 10 environment. Should Blackberry 10 receive solid reviews, a Playbook 10 running Blackberry 10 (the upgrade is free for existing users) will encourage RIM to design newer Playbooks. RIM would suddenly have a viable option for users looking for tablets.