Many have used the news to pile on, saying the long-predicted implosion of RIM has finally begun. Acquisition, once the topic of idle speculation about the company, is now a very real possibility.
There appears to be one glimmer of hope, though: BlackBerry 10, the next-generation device software that’s supposed to debut later this year. Repeatedly describing BB10 as a “platform” that the company will build its entire suite of products around in the coming years (maybe), CEO Thorsten Heins said the future of RIM depends on its successful and on-time launch.
That’s not entirely true. The future of RIM has just been determined by a recent decision Heins revealed in its earnings call: that it was going to refocus on the enterprise market. He backpedaled a bit later, saying that it doesn’t represent abandoning the consumer market (the majority of its customers are everyday “consumers”), but the message from RIM was clear: We lost the consumer smartphone war to Apple and Google. We’re backing off.
This decision makes a large degree of sense — and I support it — but that doesn’t make it any less tragic. By retreating back to its core strength of enterprise devices and services, RIM may eke out a happy existence, but it will never be the smartphone titan it once was, no matter how good BlackBerry 10 is.
The reason is the smartphone market is worlds apart from where it was when RIM was king — which was just a mere three years ago, as the market share flies. The “consumerization of IT” trend is in full force — witness the staggering number of businesses that plan to buy iPads in the coming year.
The business customer has evolved. The new species is much less tolerant of carrying two devices. It’s spent quality time with both the iPhone and Android handsets, and its pack leaders (read: executives) are qui