One-time industry leader in enterprise mobility Research In Motion has had a long, tumultuous decline. RIM once had the enterprise mobility market in a stranglehold, by virtue of their groundbreaking BlackBerry devices. Now, however, it seems that RIM's total collapse is all but done. What happened? How did a company that once revolutionized mobile communications become antiquated relatively quickly?
RIM: Complacency Defined
As a company, RIM was content marketing and selling of its once-ubiquitous BlackBerry line of phones. The “crackberry” is considered to be the first enterprise-ready mobile phone, first being released in 2003. At the time, there literally was little to no competition, as RIM created or mastered many services that enterprise mobility users now take for granted: mobile internet browsing, push email, network messaging and work groups, for example. BY 2007, RIMs market share was growing exponentially - and this is where the real trouble began.
As an early innovator, RIM was able to dominate and define the terms of the market. However, it's brass seemed to lack the foresight to respect innovation. The announcement of Apple's first iPhone device, and all of the cutting-edge technology in its user interface, was met with a mostly disinterested shrug by RIM. The developers and decision-makers at the company considered the new, dynamic touch screen device a toy that was great for individuals, but not for business use. This initial lack of foresight would come to haunt the company.
RIM: Doubling Down on a Dying Platform
The iPhone did lead RIM to develop their own touch screen alternative, the Blackberry Storm. However, RIM seemed to have difficulty implementing a general user interface that didn't make use of the trackball. Consequently, the Storm began a history of underdevelopment. The company fell back into it's pattern of depending upon moving massive amounts of trackball-based handsets.
Applications Open a World of Possibility
Apple, Google, and Microsoft eventually all released several mobile devices; as software companies, their approach to usability and functionality far outstripped RIM's. In fact, they simply seemed to approach the market with a completely different mindset altogether. While RIM's devices look and feel exactly the same, the new kids on the block experimented with sizes and form-factors, – all while adding more features and power. As software manufacturers, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were built around the idea of creating and releasing significant upgrades to their operating systems regularly, and the use of third party developers to expand functionality.
And many developers did precisely that. Both the Apple App store and the Google Play Store are filled with applications that have become a part of the business and cultural landscape.
While these developments were revolutionizing the market, RIMs suffered a huge blow in the eyes of enterprise users.
RIM's October 2011 Outage sounds the death-knell of the company
A two-day network outage in October of 2011 was a final blow to the reputation of RIM. The outage blocked millions of BlackBerry users in globally from their Facebook, internet and e-mail connections and free messaging service popularly known as BBM,. Basic phone and SMS services remained active. The system crash was caused by a core switch failure in RIM’s infrastructure, according to a statement issued by the company. The once rock-solid reliability had taken a hit, leaving the company with nothing to stand on
Up next in part 4 of this series of Trends in Enterprise Mobility, HTML5