If I Ran RIM: I'd FOCUS!

BlackBerry Focus
By Kevin Michaluk on 11 Nov 2011 02:58 pm EST
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[ If I Ran RIM is an editorial series by CrackBerry's Founder and Editor In Chief, Kevin Michaluk. It looks at the things he would be doing if he were on the senior management team or board of directors at Research In Motion ] 

With the troops rallied and ready for battle, it's time for Research In Motion to buckle down and "git-r-done." But more important than working hard is working smart. It's not just a matter of RIM getting things done, but getting the *right* things done. As RIM works through their tech transition from the BlackBerry OS to BBX platform, RIM needs to FOCUS. Even though RIM is a big company with thousands of employees and therefore has the resources to tackle a lot of product initiatives, I think most people reading this will agree that right now it's more important for RIM to do a few GREAT things than it is to do several GOOD (or sub par) things. Sometimes less is more. RIM's best people need to be focused on delivering RIM's next great product, and anything that distracts from that needs to be cut out.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple when it was on the brink of ruin, the first thing he did was focus the company. He killed off every product and initiative that wasn't integral to the company's success going forward. That strategy worked out pretty well for Apple in the years since.

With their iPhone, Apple has to date taken the notion of focus to the extreme, having yet to offer more than one form factor variation of the current generation device model. The form factor is always the touchscreen slab. You can pick your color -- white or black -- and internal memory. That's not a lot of choice for consumers obviously, but the benefit for Apple here is that the entirety of the iPhone development team is focused on turning out that single next generation device model. And that ability to focus on the development side ultimately results in a product that is pretty polished and well received.

In comparison over the years, RIM has taken the opposite strategy, giving customers almost too many options to choose from. Some of this choice came from RIM wanting consumers to be able to pick their form factor of choice and to offer segmentation in pricing from high end (Bold) to low end (Curve), while some of the differentiation in device models has been the result of working on different chipsets (CDMA vs. GSM devices) or in offering carriers an exclusive that they want (Storm).

The iPhone 3G went on sale July 11, 2008 (the App Store debuted here). Since then, in total there have been three iPhone models released (3GS, 4, 4S).

The BlackBerry Bold 9000 went on sale August 22nd, 2008, just shortly after the iPhone 3G was released. In comparison, a browse through our forums and some quick math reveals over that same time frame RIM has released 28 BlackBerry device models to the market. Add in the BlackBerry 9788 and P'9981, and the count grows to to 30. And with a BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380 just around the corner, we're totalling over thirty BlackBerry device models compared to Apple's three iPhones over the same time frame. That's a lot of BlackBerry device models to design, develop, put the polish on, market and support. 

Does over 30 BlackBerry models compared to Apple's three constitute a lack of focus for RIM? On one hand, it's hard to argue with RIM's success over the years - obviously their strategy paid off for a long time. On the other hand, that strategy caught up with them. I've said on many CrackBerry Podcasts that the day the original iPhone was announced in 2007 that RIM should be begin working on their next generation OS. Instead, RIM's development teams went to work continuing to pump out iteration after iteration of mainly-similar BlackBerry in multiple device families.

Looking back, I can't help but think RIM would be even further ahead today if they had kept their focus a little tighter, putting more of their energy into furthering the platform sooner rather than spreading themselves thinner by pumping out so many devices.

History is history, so the thing to do now is look forward. I already think RIM is taking this notion of focus to heart. With BlackBerry 7 we've seen a *slight* condensing of the product families. I don't think we'll see a BlackBerry Pearl or BlackBerry Style running on BlackBerry 7. That said, we are still seeing a LOT of styles of BlackBerry Smartphone get introduced -  the physical keyboard Bold 9930/9900, the full touchscreen Torch 9860/9850; the Torch 9810 slider; the full keyboard Curve 9370/9360/9350; another full keyboard Bold 9790 and another full touchscreen Curve, the 9370.

I do think people like having choice, though I find most people who come to me asking for advice usually just ask the question What's the best BlackBerry to buy right now? Apple makes it easy by giving no choice - you buy whichever one is newest, unless you're really needing to save cash and buy a generation older version. Android (a platform, not a manufacturer) is a complete mess as there's simply way too many choices - unknowing people just buy whichever model the salesperson pushes at them that week. I think moving ahead with RIM's next generation of QNX-based BBX BlackBerry Smartphones (or SuperPhones or whatever), RIM needs to keep things focused and offer just the minimum and most logical number of devices they need for basic form factor choice.

RIM needs their high-end full qwerty flagship. That's a must for the core BlackBerry user. Take the Bold 9900, make the touchscreen 25 - 30% taller, make the battery life last longer and put BBX on it and you're done.

RIM needs a full touchscreen. That's what the consumer market wants right now. And that will likely be the first one we see hit the market.

While a solid full qwerty and full touchscreen are a MUST for RIM, after that things are less clear. I think there's a lot of people who like the Torch slider, but if building a slider is going to distract from building a better next-gen full touch or full qwerty, it would be a sacrifice I'd look at making. 

A lot of RIM's success has come from their low cost devices, like the Curves. For the next little while as BBX phones emerge, it seems that RIM will continue to offer BBOS devices and likely keep that going as their low cost international play. At some point they will want to target low cost with BBX phones too. Is it better for RIM to purpose build a low cost BBX Smartphone, or is it better to let the low cost market be served by the previous generation of high-end device as Apple has been doing? Tricky question and it's one that would take some number crunching to answer concretely, but again I would bring it back to focus. Address the low end of the market in a way that best allows RIM to focus on pushing the platform ahead while delivering the best consumer experience to the low cost market.

Bottom line: In the past RIM put too much effort into turning out a bunch of device models that were mainly similar or devices that were too far outside of RIM's core, which took energy and dollars that could have been better put into raising the bar of the platform and future devices. If I Ran RIM, going forward with BBX Phones I would FOCUS the product line down to the bare minimum, and put those extra resources into pushing each new generation of product that much further ahead.

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If I Ran RIM: I'd FOCUS!

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Follow up... so just to expand the point on device models here:

In the time that Apple did the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, RIM worked on the following BlackBerry models (I wouldn't doubt it if I missed some):

P-9981
Bold 9930
Bold 9900
Torch 9860
Torch 9850
Torch 9810
Torch 9800
Bold 9790
Bold 9788
Bold 9780
Bold 9780
Bold 9700
Bold 9000
Style 9670
Bold 9650
Tour 9630
Storm2 9550
Storm2 9520
Storm 9530
Storm 9500
Curve 9380
Curve 9370
Curve 9360
Curve 9350
Curve 9330
Curve 9300
Pearl 9105
Pearl 9100
Curve 8900
Curve 8530
Curve 8520
Curve 8350i
Pearl Flip 8230
Pearl Flip 8220

Of course some devices above are pretty darn similar in form factor (Curve 8530/8520), but are still different in software and coding (GSM chipset vs. CDMA, etc).

So all I'm saying going ahead is Focus! And maybe do branding/device model numbers that make more sense to the average person.

Curve 8910 and Curve 8980 are absent from the list. Also, you have Bold 9780 listed twice. You're welcome, Kev.

Also, if I ran RIM, I'd create a new strategy and discuss with everyone in Waterloo, not let AT&T et al screw you in the ***.

~ Yousif

nice editorial :) but dont forget the iphone4 had a specific GSM and specific CDMA variant, which if you want to count a 9900 and 9930 as 2, then would only be fair to class those as 2 also.

personally i think there should be one touchscreen BB, and one qwerty BB and one slider BB. then when the next years lineup rolls out, keep the qwerty device as the `entry level` much like apple does with the last years spec device. so for example the 9900 is this years bold, but would be effectively next years (when its replaced as top of range) curve, if that makes sense. would also cut R+D as youve already done that the year before :)

It's impossible to have the a bold 9900 like phone as entry phone next year. You might perceive as out dated but the components wont be cheap enough to market it next year as entry phone. Thats why there is the need of cheaper line the Curve.

Frankly I'm not sure if everyone in waterloo is focused. They're still having the mindset that if they have the US market, and everything is fine. Meanwhile, the US user base is shrinking. They're a hit in Indonesia. There's the china market that the bigshots are interested, but products are half hearted.

But you're right, rim needs focus

Thank you for speaking the truth and shining light on RIM's dirty laundry. Blackberrys are awesome but RIM really needs to clean up house.

Maybe not too many devices, but WAY TOO many OS versions, then multiply that my country and carriers... god, gets ridiculous. There's no way to know what's suppose to work or not, tons of "leaked" (controlled leaks IMO) OS versions.

I think your suggestion for the nextgen Bold is too simplistic and might actually harm the brand as it would make the device less ergonomic and more top-heavy if you just made it taller.

If they made the next Bold a bit wider as well as a bit taller then they would reduce the impact on the ergonomics while still leading to a reasonable increase in screensize and even more room for the keyboard and battery to be improved too.

Looking at the 9900 and a 9800, adding about 5mm to the height and the width would just about allow them to fit in a screen the size of the torch into a bold, while still be shorter than a 9860.

I think there is unused space where the BlackBerry logo is below the speaker. And there is space under the keyboard. But I fear putting the keyboard down would affect its ergonomics..

i agree 100% with kevin. i think many leave blackberry because they are using lower end models and comparing to a ifone or droid which is way so "cooler"- i think rim do all touch and iconic bb high end style like 9900 and have all carriers carry them. bb4life as long as rim is around

Lol. You know, when I first got my Bold 9900 I didn't think the lack of autofocus on the camera would be that big a deal to me... but i definitely sucks not having it there. Such a great all around device (assuming it doesn't brick and your battery gets through the day)... maybe the 9963.5 will get autofocus :)

It's a really good device (mine didn't self-brick and had self-rebooted a handful of times) and you're right that it's not _required_ and that shots at a distance are ok, but if you find youself taking pictures of things near enough, you can feel the difference.

You really feel it if, eg, you need to take pictures of business cards, serial numbers of equipment, etc. Then it's painful. Or, if you a consumer, when you take picture of your kids' faces.

Personally, I swapped it for a 9810. I miss the keyboard and the wonderful display, but I missed being able to take reasonable photos of my kids more.

It's especially problematic when you-know-who is fielding a camera that competes favourably with SLRs.

Your point about focus is a good one, in all seriousness. RIM needs to sweat the details **as they matter to users**. Carriers and partners don't care, but carriers and partners aren't driving sales, not anymore. Get one or two models really, really right, and refine them mercilessly. If your management and QA people can't do this (and I'd hazard they can't; they don't seem to care about those subtle tangibles) then find people who can.

@psarhj

After refining them mercilessly, you forgot "and market the ever living crap out of them too".

Couldn't agree with you more about the lack of AF on 9900/30. Lack of such drove me to the 9810, and I couldn't be happier with the form factor. Well that's a bit of a lie. Finding a case isn't exactly pain free. Otterbox turns phone into a slippery piece of soap, and so far every bezel snap-on forces the slider out of whack in one way or another.

My form factor focus would be a touch slab, same sized slab with slider qwerty, and touch qwerty with larger screen. A Style-like flip would be cool. But only if it had full touch on both external and internal screens, which would probably be a design nightmare in terms of size/weight of the screens.

Low end phones could be addressed like Apple. There is no low end until next year's model comes out, bumping the old model into low end prices. Makes sense seeing as R&D costs now get spread out over a longer period of sales.

Most importantly though, colours! RIM. Needs to bump up the colours. Solid black, white, red, yellow, and maybe blue. Then make those same colours, but using the fusion style of the red/black Pearl 3G. Eg: white/black, red/black, yellow/black, etc. But release them all at the same time, across carriers!

The main problem is you are NOT running RIM :D

But I like the idea of focusing on thing. "First thing first".
In summary, I believe the ideal type of BBX phones should be:
- Full QWERTY + Touch like Bold 99xx
- Full Touch + Trackpad/none
For low cost phone:
- Full QWERTY like Curve 9360
- Full Touch like the old Storm

And ALL should be running on GSM and CDMA (even iPhone 4S agreed with this).

I'm thankful YOU are not running RIM.

Some of us want a full touch screen AND a full QWERTY keyboard -- best of both worlds (and in a lot of minds, superior to both).

That's why I have a 9810.

But it shouldn't be a slide out, which is why I never liked the 9810. The keyboard should always be exposed with a 3.5 inch screen.

I gave my BB loving GF and my apple loving cousin the same speech about RIM the other day lol. Great minds think alike.

Great write up Kevin . I have been a berry girl ever since the 7100i with nextel thought that was the coolest phone at the time, and now just now recently switched from my 9800 to 9810.
but in between tried the iphone, htc inspire, but i always come back to my berries. Gonna stick buy them through thick and thin. :)

Kevin. The bottom line here get the two variants of bbx hh out Q1 next year but make sure that they have the app support which is where we are being left behind. I agree with you forget all the other variants bar bring a low cost one for teens or emerging markets. Concentrate on quality not quantity

I don't understand why they would put out a Bold 9790 which is not so different from the Bold 9900. It's great that they are catering to different needs; however, all this catering must result in higher development, administration, testing, manufacturing, and marketing costs. I suspect the development community would also welcome a reduction in the breadth of RIM's product line.

yes and no for devs, the screensize is the same as a torch 9800 in landscape, or even a storm in landscape, so no resizing of assets is required. the size is also the same as the 9350/60/70 although the curve doesnt have touch.

Agree entirely. Take a look at the successful companies that have kept their offerings in a pecking order or natural progression. The demand is created because the consumer knows what they want and what they can (or can't but buy/want anyway) afford. The auto industry is a prime example. Honda Civic or Accord / BMW series3,5 or 7 / Ford Focus or Taurus and on an on.

Multiple variations of the same thing causes multiple problems.

Also it creates demand as the buyer upgrades himself by thinking "man, the civic will get me there BUT that V6 Accord is sweet" and ends up buying the Accord (or whatever your brand of choice is). I.E, "16gb will work but I'm going for the 32gb"). It's a win for the consumer as he buys want he, or she, wants and a win for the manufacturer because he has a happy customer, which creates loyalty because either model is awesome. Great article!!

With Alec Saunders on board, who is your brother Kevin, we have a straight forward no bs guy who will drive the app and dev ecosystem. I'm stoked that this guy is pulling for our company

Nice Post.

I just got my 9900 on Sunday and I am in love with it. The battery has been great for me (much better than my Torch 9800) and I won't even mention how much I love the keyboard. Im not so sure that a full touch screen blackberry is the way to go. The market right now is saturated with full touch screen devices and many of them have already established themselves so well. I can't see the average consumer being lured over to a full touch screen bb when it is sitting next to the iPhone and the tons of Android phones out there now.

I think Rim needs to stick with the qwerty and keep polishing the design the used for the 9900. The Playbook did not work out so well for RIM. What happens if they utilize all their resources for this all touch screen model and it fails! :(

I have tried the other two platforms and happily came back to my Berry. Its the keyboard that makes communication so accessible and fun, why would they take that away :(

The triple option we have in the 9900 is fantastic. Touch, optic wheel, and the unbeatable keyboard make a good combination. I use them all. Touch is good for fast scrolling, the optic wheel to reach a specific area in the screen, and that beautiful and professional looking keyboard that lets us enter a massive amount of information. To me, the three are justified.

And stick to promissed timelines!!!

There is nothing worse then telling people late summer and late summer becomes february (ok at least its late summer in Australia . . . ^^)

Show up on stage of BB world and say : this is the new phone and from tomorrow you can buy it online though our online store and from next week you can buy it through the carriers. And if there are carriers who do not like the idea and want to test everything for years - sorry then they won't get it. thats how apple did.

they showed the carriers the first iphone on the day they released it.

Total accurate Kevin.

I would like to add that if I ran RIM I would invoke a new division called (for argument sake) BlueBerry. This division would only mirror the key success factors of Apple/Android. It would create one phone per year and focus on give CONSUMERS what they want - fast, touch screen device with no R&D or time spent on compression, security or battery life maximization. Without worrying about these particular overheads on a phone (compression, security, battery life) the fictitious BlueBerry division would be permitted to think outside of the box and produce devices on a timely basis that CONSUMERS want. Enterprise buyers would still purchase BlackBerry devices.

As a side note, if RIM was not so concerned about security do you think the BB Colt or Playbook's OS2 would be or would have been out sooner? I think so by at least say 1 month or more.

im not sure if u noticed but u just doubled the work / redundancy by making another 'department' and who saids rim doesnt think out-side the box? just because innovation is within the device under the shell doesnt mean nothing under is being changed!!!

The automakers went through this a couple years ago. Producing too many products. Look at GM it dropped Hummer, Saab, Pontiac and focused on the others and now they are making money.

The way I see it.

Full touchscreen phone
Full qwerty phone with touchscreen like the 9900
Cheap phone like the curve.

Max your pumping out 6 phones (both variants included)

I totally agree. Too many models and the amount of support available for each would be abysmal. Make each model the very best in its class and conentrate on how to make each better and more productive for the end user.

I agree with the fact that RIM needs to cut down on the number of devices made. Resources and time was wasted on phones that didn't sell or ended up as crap (the Pearl was a great phone, but I never see much of it around, and the style and the Storm,...well no need to elaborate on that.) The should kill the torch slider line once BBX debuts, after that it would be the full screen BBX colt, a bold QWERTY with BBX, and a curve line with it as well. I'm sure if we saw the sales figures, The Bold and curve lines have been THE most successful. Even though the torch was good, its still lost in the sea of curve and bold users. 3 segments is more than enough, a full touch- screen superphone, their flagship QWERTY device and the entry level device. I'm skeptical about the curve touch screen, people would rather buy a cheaper android for that amount and have access to a lot of apps.

Possible for rim to build a 3g/4g BBX phone that will run on both gsm and cdma networks? Then RIM doesn't have to come out with multiple phones for multiple companies/networks.

I would keep it simple.
High end:
Bold QWERTY
Bold Touch
Bold Slider

Low end:
Curve QWERTY
Curve Touch

A total of 5 devices max. All touchscreen.

That looks like a good line up to me. Have the release of the Curve phones come 4-5 months after the release of the Bolds, so you don't have to overload your manufacturing as much and you would be in great shape.

I think you are right on target, Kevin. Great post. So sorry you don't have autofocus on your 9900, that's why you should have gotten the 9810! :)

The message implicit in your commentary is that RIM isn't focused.

I'm not sure that's true.

You believe Apple is more focused when in fact they're so limited engineering wise they actually couldn't build a phone like the 9900. They don't have the expertise.

That's why they stick with one form factor. In fact all mobile phone manufacturers compromise on every design. RIM's advantage is that with multiple form factors they can tailor devices to specific segments. And they have the engineering expertise to cram lots of stuff into a smaller form factor than the competition and yet still be able to make a phone call.

The fact RIM hasn't been able to leverage its engineering expertise into a market leading position is another question entirely. But I'd argue not based on focus or otherwise.

This is why I am disappointing that they are going ahead with the 9790. It doesn't address any market that the 9780/9350/9900 have not already taken care of.

It addresses markets that find the 9900 too big or where carriers are only interested in qwerty blackberries, but still want multiple offerings so they could have:

High end - 9900
midrange - 9790
low end - 9360

Focus is a key component of the apple eco-system, totally agree but I think a lot of that is helped by a closed system dictated by a rule set that doesn't change to much once that formula is perfected.

"In the past RIM put too much effort into turning out a bunch of device models that were mainly similar" nothing wrong with that if your trying to take on the low and high end but your point is wrong. The hardware has been underwhelming in all sections - other than the key aspects of a blackberry phone, nothing exciting separates it from the rest of the competitors thus consumers who haven't embraced bb won't be enticed.

Apple have always offered something unique to their launches whether a new sleek design or something software related compounded by a sleek OS that has a popular online store. This is something rim continues to slide on all accounts. You can have a huge amounts of phones (look at google and its partners but that's helped by low costs and high tech hardware) something rim doesn't cover well enough in their low end and not quick enough at the high end.

Hardware needs to entice developers and I'm not talking about just dev tools, I'm talking about keeping resolution and memory and graphics where there's a miminum to work too - windows phone 7 does that perfectly but the lower market share perceives it as a weaker option but rim on the other hand have a huge market share and needs to make sure when this transistion occurs that they have focus their minimal hardware needs for a generation or two across the board to allow devs to support and reach the highest potential of users available. Bb users will always want keyboards but rim have been to aroggant or too slow to respond to touch screen consumer needs (not that worries me but for shareholders...)

Still I haven't addressed rims focus on business and consumer. This article focuses on devices and I assume that's the most important but the focus is a bit fluffy when it comes to business and the convergence of consumers. The plan seems a little lost but I have no idea how they can keep both.

Ppl will say focus on marketing, focus on phones, focus on software, focus on business, focus on the consumer, focus on the devs.. All seem important but what is more important? Are they over extending themselves in all areas or is it lacking. The only way to learn is from the problems in the market and how google, apple and microsoft have handles their inception and transistions respectively. Nokia and microsoft is a good example of focus. Interesting to see how that goes...

C'mon blackberry u have the opportunity to build a great product and focus is integral but choose wisely or cut down the fluff :p

IPods
Tablets
Routers
Access Points
Media Storage and Back Up Hubs
Destops
AppleTv
Music Retailer
Movies Retailer
Laptops

Oh

And Phones

Apple has better managment to deliver. The amount of products APPL has deleivered in the same time frame is much greater than RIMM.

What about this: a single maxxed hardware BBX Bold-style phone, the BlueBerry (once known as the Playbook) and all of the other resources pumped into Design, Marketing and PR, to make apps easy to develop, manage the many botched announcements and create a truly effective marketing campaign.

I think it's been said beofre but . . .4 Phones . . .2 high end BBX phones (a QWERT and full scree) and 2 lower end OS7 phones . . .people like the veriety RIM gives but not at the cost of quality . . .

Kevin,

what an absolute article! thanks for sharing. I agree with that, not just RIM, but every single company in the world has to FOCUS on what its doing, focusing will bring a better view for everyone (that's why we have AUTOFOCUS-ing cameras nowadays yea?? i guess you know what I meant by that.)

You're correct, RIM has launched so many handsets ranging from the low end to the high end. in some ways, it has given consumers lots of opportunities to have a go with blackberries, covering more market penetrations and improves the sales of the products, BUT I also agree, with everything RIM has been trying, we can't compete against the one & only, the true single fighter, Apple iPhone. Even Androids (yes, it's a platform, not a handset) are now so sporadic from different types of manufacturers with their own devices which are now.. soooo funny, it seems like now even among Androids they're trying to eat one & another's market, and that fact will soon be coming to WP, with Nokia is now on the door to enter the market, the competition among WPs is gonna be a hot one to watch. Fortunately, RIM develops its own platform, its own devices, and that's why RIM has a niche market.

HOWEVER, with the recent polls & surveys nowadays, the market share of RIM is declining so sharply, I am also starting to wonder, WHY. In 2008, the market share of RIM was... 48% in the US!! but soon it started to decline due to this word.. Apple's FOCUS on the development of its iPhone, perfecting & utilising all its capabilities to ensure its consumers & developers are satisfied, that's why lots of apps are now rolling out almost every minute to its App Store, and people who have been using iPhones will always get back to the iEcosystem again & again. Some friends of mine have given up their iphones to the Berries, but guess what, they're still carrying the iTouch, why?? coz of the apps.. Berries are their phones, yeah, their phones, but their tools for entertainment, are their iTouches. Something that RIM has to get itself FOCUSed here: ensure the devs out there, "our ecosystem is not bad, try make something for us, we'll prove it to you, come on!!"

I know RIM was established & started its journey as a corporate based communication solution, and I think that's what has made Mike L's vision. BUT, hello.. the era has changed! even though nowadays, including my 9900 is a touchscreen phone, with an accelerated GPU, fast CPU, chunks of RAM & a big (but not that big..) internal hard drive, what are they for? if RIM is only FOCUSed on the development of corporate phones, they won't need these innovations, all they need are STABILITY, AGILITY, SECURITY, COMPATIBILITY, that's all.

Having almost 30 devices nowadays for RIM, I think it's now getting too many. 30 too many. I think if RIM has to focus, there will be JUST 5 devices:
- 1 Bold (with the form factor of 9900)
- 1 Bold (with the form factor of 97xx, should we think of another nickname of this??)
- 1 Torch slider
- 1 Torch FULL touch
- 1 Curve QWERTY (no touch based Curve please!!! let the Torch & Bold to have the touch versatility!!)

AND, make all those handsets GLOBAL like the 4S, they have the World Phone capability. And STOP the numbering, making people getting even more confused, "this is 9900, this is 9860, this is 9790, this is 9300, this is xxxx etc etc etc" OMG.. numbers are infinite, but it can go on & on & on, till when?? just say, "this is the Bold, this is the Torch slider, this is the Torch, this is the Curve", that makes it more convenient I think.

FINALLY, RIM NEEDS TO KEEP THEIR QWERTY DEVICES!!! THIS IS WHAT DIFFERS A BERRY FROM THE OTHERS, THE KEYBOARD! my sis has just got an iPhone, working hand in hand with her 9780. I tried to type on the iPhone, even though with the landscape mode, maan.. it took me soooo long just to type www.crackberry.com, OMG!! with my 9900 i could do that in less than 5 secs. see the difference??

well, back to your article Kevin, yes, RIM needs to FOCUS. leave behind what's been happening in the past, FOCUS, FOCUS & FOCUS, you can get through this RIM, BRING IT ON!!!!

GSM devices are already global, so the inclusion of a cdma radio would be useless to them and do nothing but push up the costs slightly for customers and carriers which would be a bad thing on the lower end products where the margins are smaller.

I believe that kevin is right in that apple has only 1 form factor and builds upon it ( which gives lack of choice but people know what to expect ) but that really is an amazing stargety if you can build an amazing product.
Personally if i ran Rim id do just the same id eliminate every phone series expect the Bold 9900 and the Full Touch Screen Torch. Those are the only real Series even worth mentioning and as it shows with Apple if you build a SPECTACULAR product then people will buy it no matter what the cost. Say what you want about them the numbers don't lie especially in comparison with Rim. I would then begin to focus as kevin noted on improving those two products further.

I think they should sorta take a page out of Apple's playbook (no reverse pun intended) and offer the new superphone bbx colt as maybe the only new phone next year and offer the bb7 phones as a lower cost option. The bb7 phones are pretty damn good so if I were a consumer and didn't want to spend on a bbx phone, I wouldn't mind going for a bb7 phone. Like for instance how a person that really wants an iphone but doesn't want to spend for the latest can opt to get a 3gs or a 4 (which are still good iphones, just not the latest and greatest). That way, they can use all of their focus and resources on making the colt and the best it can be from a hardware, software, and developer standpoint. 2012 should be mostly about the colt and playbook, and maybe a small percentage of manpower devoted on keeping bb7 phones relevant (os upgrades).

I believe if RIM keep the bold(qwerty), torch(qwerty/touch), and curve(qwerty and full touch), that will be the easiest selection to offer all consumers. I hate that they r comin out with too many revisions of the curves and bolds, its confuses the vast majority. They couldve put their effort and money in more profitable devices(QNX bold 9900). Just captialize on what's working and improve on it. You still can keep your base and maybe bring back and bring in new customers. Refined the OS and make it seamless like OS7 is now and it will be the shit!!!

Good luck RIM!!! And make sure to listen to your base fans..we r here for you!!!

Great artical about RIM. Yes they're in a pretty deep hole right now but if the company CEO can pull their crap together, they'll make it big and kill off the competition. I TOTTALLY argree about the device line up. Kill of the diffrent between CDMA and GSM/UTMS phone, put a name for the device you made to show the love, the passion you put in to the phone. I love my BB despite the fact that here in 'Nam, BIS are dam expensive and all phone are sold full retail. Looking back, the decision to get a 8830 is way better than a Nokia 6630 and I was hooked ever since. I felt said for RIM to get them self in this mess. FOCUS or die RIM, is as simple as that

You'd like them to kill off having cdma and gsm models and yet just after that you complain about costs, you do realise that if they did kill off the separate models that would actually push up costs don't you?

I ment to kill of the difrent between the two, make a bigger battery and make a killer web browser. I mean, what diffrent there is between the 9900 and the 9930 hardware wise ??? If they can do all of that, I don't freaking care my phone cost 500-600 bucks, I cab do that. I'm fed up with the media bashing my fav line of smart phone as if they had nothing better to do.

As a counterpoint to your argument that they need to reduce their range based on what Apple has done, what about the likes of Samsung, HTC, Motorola and ZTE recently or Nokia in the past that have all clearly shown that what works for almost all mobile phone companies is to offer a range of models to their customers.

The problems that Rim has had in recent times are not down to too many models it has been down to a lack of the right models, the premium os7 devices as lovely as they are now, were about 6 months late arriving on the market and beyond that, the specs should have been better in the 9780 and 9800 when they came out.

Having a range of models is not a bad thing for any company that doesn't have assured sales of each yearly update, the important thing is that they need to be able to introduce additional models without a drastic increase in work or time to market and maybe we have seen some signs of that being the case with the os7 devices since they all came out together i.e. they had problems with os7 and new chipsets rather than by trying to bring out several devices at once.

I think there is room for the following as their standard line-up with some also having a cdma variant (obviously not all since VZW & Sprint wouldn't be able to support a full range and hardly anywhere else gives a shit about cdma):

Bold
Torch touch
Torch slider

Curve qwerty
Curve touch

Beyond this, there may be room for regional products if a certain market has the demand and a model can be produced without too much additional work and these could be things like the 9790, the premium 9981 or in some regions even an additional lower end curve if that is where carriers needed an extra model in their blackberry range.

To sum up, their issues have been about execution and not about a lack of focus, if they can churn out new models on a regular basis that can fill a particular market demand then that is a good thing.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the article. RIM tries to hide their fundamental problem by throwing out numerous products which differ only slightly. The real problem essentially is, that RIM did not get a single thing right. Here some examples:

- Bold 9900 - Battery: while the hardware looks and feels nice, the battery standby time is a joke. In my case it's about 0.5-0.75 days.
- OS7: just annoying! browser is unstable and very slow. BB9900 has a 1.2ghz cpu built in, but these guys manage to waste most of the cpu power
- Service: apart from the October outage, network is very unstable (at least in the Swisscom network).
....

I think the fundamental problem is the management of RIM. They are not aiming for perfection. Instead they seam to have a 'that will do' attitude'. So I'm really hoping for Jaguar Financial that they find a solution for the management problem.

On the long run, I don't see RIM producing handsets. From my point of view, RIM should focus on their mail service. If it's available, it's really great.

Kevin you hit the phone on the head. I still love my Storm2 but, as it was discontinued less than 12 months after its' release I am more than not a happy customer. Now, consider how many other models have come and gone and you can imagion how many RIM users like myself that are disappointed and are considering or have moved to another manufacture.

RIM, get back to basics, make the greatest business tool out there and let the kids go elsewhere for their toys. Your strength is in business, that is how you got here, why I still love my Storm 2 and where your stengths are. By the way, there are a lot of kids using RIM's.

If I ran RIM I would make fun of all you idiots who keep buying their crap phones and defending them. The company is going down have fun going with them.....idiots.

The case with Apple is, when it brings out a phone, its an upgrade. The case with Blackberry is, When they come out with a new phone, its an upgrade yes, however, the older versions are still new enough. In India, we have a real lot of Curve 8520 selling. They are on OS5, which is still like wow. Same with the 9300 and a lot of Bold 9780's. The market for the OS7 devices are picking up too. The point is, there are a lot of entry options to this world of Blackberry when compared to the IPhone, which is a rich man's toy ( I Once had a IPhone owner ask me if he made the right decision purchasing one and what's there in a BBerry thats not in an IPhone :-) he was the only one in a group of 5 other BB owners) hence i'd say there's some sort of strategy they are breaking into here, however, yes, it may not be the best strategy, since the upgrades are tempting and not too significant.( if compared to the next higher model) Its like a ladder.

Kevin, you have a good heart, but in the end, I think you already know what the outcomes going to be! How many times does a company have to FAIL in a similar fashion for you to see the "signs"?! This company is the "Titanic"!! Bow up in the air, while it sinks SLOW!! Wake up! NOTHING they can do will change any of this! Their products suck & their management is TERRIBLE!!! Ignoring these facts shows why it's so easy for RIM to sell their CRAP to you! Just an observation!! RIM's customers are just as guilty as the company for letting crappy products have a market!! They'll keep screwing up & making garbage as long as the customers say it's "great"!! Oh well!

I agree with the fact that RIM needs to cut down on the number of devices made. Resources and time was wasted on phones that didn't sell or ended up as crap (the Pearl was a great phone, but I never see much of it around, and the style and the Storm,...well no need to elaborate on that.) The should kill the torch slider line once BBX debuts, after that it would be the full screen BBX colt, a bold QWERTY with BBX, and a curve line with it as well. I'm sure if we saw the sales figures, The Bold and curve lines have been THE most successful. Even though the torch was good, its still lost in the sea of curve and bold users. 3 segments is more than enough, a full touch- screen superphone, their flagship QWERTY device and the entry level device. I'm skeptical about the curve touch screen, people would rather buy a cheaper android for that amount and have access to a lot of apps.