Constructive criticism: How BlackBerry can get fresh again

By Kevin Michaluk on 6 Jul 2010 01:58 pm EDT
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Fresh BlackBerry!

If you follow the stock market and/or the press surrounding smartphones (or visit the CrackBerry forums for that matter), you won't be surprised to hear that as of late it seems RIM has been taking more than its fair share of a beating. The stock is down, even the loyalist of users are getting a bit antsy wanting an updated/new OS, more apps and new spec-rich hardware, and potential BlackBerry buyers have more competition to look at than ever. While RIM's market share and user base speak to their success of the past, much of the discussion taking place currently is directed toward the future and what RIM should be doing to make sure they remain a top player in the smartphone game.

Normally when you read rants or articles giving this kind of advice, they come from end consumers, analysts or bloggers like me, which is fine... but I find it very compelling and telling when it comes from somebody like Nadav Gur, who is the founder of WorldMate. Over the weekend Nadav posted to his blog an article entitled How BlackBerry Can Get Fresh Again, which outlines his thoughts on this whole discussion. Give a it read below and be sure to post a comment with your own thoughts. Agree with his thesis? Disagree? Sound off!!

How BlackBerry Can Get Fresh Again

by Nadav Gur, Founder of WorldMate

This past week has seen RIM posting mixed quarterly results - 41% increase in earnings, the 100 Millionth BlackBerry sold, still the #1 Smartphone player in North America and now the #4 handset vendor worldwide (in terms of volume), but still at the low range of analyst forecasts. Shares took a 4% hit, completing a 27% nose-dive in the last 6 months, on concerns that the iPhone and Android have stolen BlackBerry's thunder. Posting the results on the day the iPhone 4 hit the market didn't help much, but the question in investors and industry players' minds is fundamental - will RIM come back, or are Apple and Google on their ways to ruling the sector in the next few years? Clearly the people in Waterloo have their collective hands full.

Every now and then, it's time for some unabashed advice-giving , even if it is out of your league. When every soccer enthusiast out there can critique national soccer coaches or international referees, I think it might not be too outrageous for me to comment on the dilemmas faced by RIM's management. Apologies in advance for the long treatise - about something I care about.

1. Focus On Key Experiences - And Excel At Them

I was having lunch last week with a friend, a pretty well-known VC with very significant smartphone-sector involvement, who's recently switched his iPhone and Palm Pre for a BlackBerry Tour. It's simple, he said. In spite of all the advances these guys have made on user experience, neither of these devices gave him the level of e-mail efficiency that the BlackBerry does. "And when you have 5 free minutes to answer some e-mails, being able to squeeze in three instead of one makes the difference" he stated.

This great e-mail user experience got RIM to where it is today. It's not just about server connectivity, it's not just push, it's not just the keyboard - it's the totally integrated e-mail experience that often makes users email on their BlackBerry - even when their desktop is right there. But email alone is clearly not enough anymore - both because other vendors have generally caught up (well - almost), and because there are new domains for Smartphone utility out there which must be exploited to attract new legions to BlackBerry. What it does serve is to demonstrate is that if you can make the BlackBerry indispensable for a key horizontal application, you create real value and a long-term hold on users who care about it. RIM must build and perfect other experiences - not just enable them, but integrate them so seamlessly with the device, network capabilities and the existing tools and processes in use, that the added convenience and saved time generate unique value.

And guess what - there are so many experiences still out there for mobile devices on which to improve. Location-based services for instance are still in their infancy. Add context - e.g. where I intend to be, where other people are, where I was, how fast I'm moving - and you can create so much more value around basic human behaviors like commuting, parking, navigating crowded places and more. BlackBerry Drive sounds like a move in the right direction, by the way.

Another such experience that I won't go into much detail about (I'm biased) is Travel. A user activity that drives the biggest segment in world GDP, the #2 variable cost for corporations - and an activity that is by nature tied so strongly with mobility. There are other opportunities around personal and corporate finances (from balancing the budget to keeping track of expenses), tying these into retail and connecting all of these to payment services, identity and much more. As merchants, retailers and financial institutions use email to deliver key information, RIM can use an existing strength of its platform in clever ways to build brand new experiences for these applications that aggregate information from several sources and use those, alongside context, to deliver new convenience and efficiencies. The opportunities abound - if you execute on the utility and experience, and if you lead rather than follow. Which brings me to #2.

Note: RIM seems to get this to a degree with the "Super Apps" concept - but that's too conceptual - it is simply too abstract to be effectively marketed.

2. You Can't out-iPhone the iPhone - It's Time For Market Segmentation

Yes, sure. BlackBerry needs an equally good browser and similarly cool touch-UI. But in the eyes of the consumer, the battle for these is over, or at least it's become an iPhone vs. Droid saga. The greatest review on WSJ or BusinessWeek (or Oprah for that matter) would only get you to "well now BlackBerry is as-good-as", which is just not enough to sway the die-hard iPhone fans perception and make BlackBerry the Cooler device.

So don't expect that. You need to be decidedly better at some things the iPhone and Android camp have not moved on yet.. And these things must matter to an audience that matters. Some of the examples above are highly suitable for RIM. Killer execution on those experiences requires market segmentation and intense focus (don't repeat Palm's mistake to try to target Soccer Moms just because "they too multi-task..."). With RIM's historic stronghold in white-collar business professionals there is no need to move away drastically. Just think about what else these people need (beyond email and PIM) that could be done better. Find four or five of these "horizontals" to invest in, and innovate. If one or two sticks, you have a market advantage, in a segment that counts.

With smartphones going to be 50% or more of the market in a couple of years, there's room enough for everyone to grow - but not if they all target the same mindset / customer profile. Let Android and iPhone battle over "who's coolest" and try to be something else - to some other people.

3. Protect Your Enterprise Base By Innovating There Too - With Innovation that Appeals to The End User

Corporate customers built the house of RIM. The combination of making employees more effective (through email), always available (through push and the "CrackBerry Syndrome") and a secure environment, created the initial market adoption - but also some key brand values, including its association with financiers, lawyers and other white-collar workers. However we are seeing more and more that iPhone is infiltrating the corporate market , driven mostly by employee preferences (the cooler device...) and improved infrastructures from Microsoft, Apple and Google.

RIM cannot afford to lose its hold on the enterprise. Not only are these highly lucrative customers in themselves, but with RIM's distribution strategy tied tightly to wireless operator, this is a key reason operators are still very engaged with RIM, even though they see iPhone (and possibly Droid) as a more strategic brand for their consumer customers. As long as these highest-ARPU customers are tied to BlackBerry, the loyalty of operators is still there, at least to a degree.

Now how do you keep enterprises loyal, when it seems like they can get the security and control they need for "free" with Microsoft Exchange and iPhone OS 4.0 and "don't need BES"? Especially when it is the employees (or the executives really) who are demanding the other brand? The key is to innovate again. Go deeper into horizontal enterprise processes - and make sure what you create matters to the end-user, not just the IT guy or the CFO. Cause it's the grassroots who are now facilitating the advance of competitors into your turf.

Instant messaging through BlackBerry Messenger is a good first step, but it's easily replaceable unless it ties deeply into some other enterprises systems. Examples which are possibly more resilient are expense reporting, corporate travel management, and document / process management. Each of these is an ongoing headache for most corporations and a thorn-in-the-side for most employees. If you can provide a solution that creates a great experience for end-users and a cost-saving / efficiency enhancement for enterprises - you have an edge.

4. Don't Repeat Nokia's Mistake - It's About Margin, Not Just Revenue

Who is the world's largest smartphone manufacturer? Clearly it's still Nokia. After all - they sell the most "open operation system" phones. Don't they? Well if you look at the profit figures or company valuation - not really.

A few years ago, the top players in mobile decided the game is about volume. The challenge was building the $40 phone to sell billions of into the emerging economies. The winner will sell hundreds of millions of units a year. Well, guess what - Nokia emerged the pyrrhic winner with staggering market shares in emerging markets - e.g. 59% in India - only to see its shareholder value plummet. Last year, I conversed with a Nokia executive who claimed that "50% of the margin in the handset business is generated through the top 10% of phones sold". So - you can sell 9 times as much as everyone else - and still trail them in profits generated.

With Sprint becoming RIM's strongest partner - and appealing to blue-collars instead of white-collars, and with the buy-one-get-one-free deals with people like Verizon (who prefers Android - as it feels it needs to directly counter the iPhone), the risk of repeating that same mistake is real. NOK is down 71% in 3 years. RIM is on the precipice of a similar slide but it isn't too late to reverse course. Which ties back to point #2 above - RIM must remain the choice for top-end customers, and not get enamored with mid-market customers unless as followers of that former group.

Observation: RIM and Nokia are actually pretty similar and have some common issues, which brings me to my next point.

5. Innovation At This Scale Is a Silicon Valley Phenomenon

Both RIM and Nokia are great companies coming out of relatively small nations. Both are tightly managed from a Northern city pretty far removed from global technology centers, and over time both attracted much of the available talent of their nations. And when the local talent pool is depleted and new talent is hard-to-draw to your region - you start settling for less. A few weeks ago I met with an old friend, an extremely talented entrepreneur, who was wooed by both companies last year and ended up preferring a Boston office with Nokia to a Waterloo location with RIM. Location was 90% of that decision for him.

With the need to differentiate and innovate a key to the ability to get back the positive momentum - the old fortress is becoming a liability.

I am actually a fairly recent newcomer to Silicon Valley. Having resisted the move for years and having made crucial business mistakes because of it, I have to say this: you cannot be serious about technology innovation leadership without having Silicon Valley as a part of your DNA. The technology innovation world is not flat. It's a sink, and the sinkhole is somewhere between SFO and SJC. Many of the most talented people all over America and the world are sucked there eventually. It's the land where every man has a plan, a back-up plan, and a few ideas he's playing around with. I've written about it before, and six months later it is just clearer to me. If you're not in the Valley, or if your Valley presence does not have enough influence in the company, sooner or later you'll miss out on something big that's happening. And you're bound to miss out on some great talent - and that isn't a good competitive move. RIM has to find a way to make its Silicon Valley presence a bigger, stronger influence on what it does, and become a bigger, stronger influence (and attraction) to the rest of Silicon Valley. Winning the hearts and minds of the influencers there is crucial. It's a key factor in Apple's appeal and a great helper for Google and Android.

The inertia is currently in one direction - fighting to reverse it from Ontario is playing with one arm tied behind your back.

6. Re-think The Carrier Angle

RIM's credo is "we will live and die with the operators". Perhaps it's time for a change in the balance of power - that will ultimately help both RIM and the operators? Were AT&T so poorly served by giving Apple tight control over the iPhone? Isn't Verizon giving Google similar breadth?

In an innovation-driven space, where the relevant innovation is not anymore in infrastructure assets but in services, applications and integration - carriers are handicapped. They do not excel at innovation at the best of times. Having them regulate yours is ensuring there will be as little of it as they think they can get away with. The problem is - they often underestimate how much of it is needed, and when they make that mistake, they will take you down with them. RIM must be able to determine its rate of innovation on its own.

So there. I hope It wasn't that long. I'd like to thank my great editor, Ian Berman @ianberman. It's time for your comments.

Source: WorldMate

128 comments

jetman1287

The big point I get out of this article is that fixing BB's problems is EASY. I agree.

And that is exactly why we're so frustrated - simple fixes like a competent browser, UI that doesn't lag, and apps on the memory card...nothing extroadinary...and it's taken them years to even look at these problems.

infamyx

They got complacent. They didn't think their user base would want features that the iphone or android offers. They didnt think their users want powerful phones that do it all.

Now that rival platforms are selling like hot cakes they realized they need to kick it in gear. Selling dirt cheap curves and pearls in India doesn't mean anything, they'll end up just like Nokia.

People are willing to shell out money for a phone that's worth it, RIM seems too scared to compete in the upper echelon like they did with the Bold 9000 and 9530 (even though the Storm sucked). The Bold in my honest opinion has been their last device that showed they still had it.

They need better software, and not just from the OS (browser ok, where is the storage fix?) But from devs. People want rich apps like the iPhone and Android, but poor tools and outdated hardware make it nigh impossible.

RIM can fix this, but this Nokia mentality they have now where pushing headsets to emerging markets is all that matters will be what will kill them in my opinion, especially as the NA market is revving up with fierce competition from Android and Apple and soon to be Windows Phone 7.

Madness87

They did get complacent. They expected people who own a 2008 Ferrari to not get jealous when people come by driving 2010 Lamborghini's.

I don't know what is even going on in RIM's mind. I don't want a "one phone to rule them all" solution like iphone, but I do expect them to not keep releasing watered down models every 6-7 months with some improved feature but lacking others.

Take a look at the recently released Bold 9650 and Pearl 3G 9100, the Bold 9650 adds 512 mb but not the wireless-n standard that the Pearl 3G got. But the Pearl didn't get the upgrade in memory.

I think they need better hardware. I was fine with the Bold, Curve and Storm as their three leading brands. Instead, every new phone is a Bold even if it's the same specifications and size as a curve.

See, what makes Apple remain on top is that it remains with a similar design, RIM keeps churning out different designs like crazy. Most people loved the size and design of the Bold 9000, so instead of releasing new BB's that are smaller and look different, why not ust improve the hardware like Apple does?

What I mean is, early this year, they should have released a new Bold that looked like the 9000 but was slimmer, had wifi-n, a slightly larger screen with better resolution, had 512 mb to 1 gb memory, at least 5 or above megapixel camera, front facing camera, trackpad, and a 1750 MaH battery.

RIM keeps thinking in this global everchanging world that if it remains the same it will always win, but so many times this has caused companies to disappear altogether. Look what happened to Palm. They tried to change but it was too little too late.

alb123

You hit the nail on the head. Every time a new phone's specs are "leaked" I just sigh. RIM is clearly thinking in terms of "units sold" because these incremental upgrades are wetting our appetites for about 3 months and then we realize suddenly our device is no longer all that great anymore, compared to what's out there. Heck, even RIM's "cutting edge" devices aren't on par with what's out there.

They definitely need to wow the consumer markets with bells and whistles if it wants to compete in that arena. I am a BIS user. I am slowly becoming less concerned about access to my e-mail as I am other aspects of my smartphone. The ONLY thing keeping me with RIM is their fantastic keyboards. That's it. If I ever decide to give touchscreen a try, I am gone. That is, unless OS 6 gives me a browsing/multimedia experience on par with the other guys...

EGerhardt

I have said it before and I will say it again. Specs mean nothing. 99% of consumers wouldn't even know what a snapdragon processor is, and the majority of those that do only care because its 'cool' not because its useful.

On a technology level, yes RIM has been a little behind, but not to the point where it makes a vast amount of difference. Its a conceptual thing. You have to ask your self what is required, and beyond that what is required for the majority of users. If the typical user experience is good and enjoyable on current generation devices, then there's not much reason to upgrade the hardware.

As you may recall, iPhones hardware has been relatively bad by comparison to the droid devices (600mhz and 256mb of ram on the 3GS) but because average users had a good experience it doesn't matter. I couldn't actually find the specs for the 4th one, which makes me suspect its not exactly turbocharged.

The thing is that specs aren't actually that relevant. Much of what BB users take for granted is actually experience defining stuff about the devices that people don't notice until they actually use a berry for a few weeks.

Universal inbox for example, up to ten email boxes, facebook, twitter, BBM, MSN et al, all in one box, and clicking any of those messages takes you to where it came from. That's an awesome thing, and is part of the app integration that BBs are getting better and better at.

Its highly functional, incredibly useful and generally a great thing, and it has nothing to do with specs.

My 9000 still does everything that I could want it to do, despite being very old.

Just keep in mind that as long as a device does what you want (and ignore any cooky lightsabre apps) without setting on fire, then its absolutely fine.

As far as getting rim back in their groove, I think that they are going to keep focusing on the white collar crowd, and I agree that better BES for users would be excellent for that. More super-app stuff, keeping everything integrated and usable from any part of your phone will keep improving the experience.

Things like wireless N doesn't make any difference to a phone. Sure its good if its there, but are only useful if there is actually wireless N to make use of, and even then its only really worthwhile on actually computers where you might be moving gigs of data at a time, and even then only from PC to PC, because you can never download faster than your internet connection on the other end. For browsing, the difference between N and G is unnoticeable.

Finally, BB6 and the 9800 generation of devices are going to change a whole lot of how BBs are, and I think will certainly boost RIM as a whole.

papped

Obviously everyone *needs* n-wireless (sarcasm), I doubt most people even have n routers or know what it does or can even tell the difference.

Obviously everyone *needs* 12mp cameras on their phones (sarcasm) because that makes the pictures better (sarcasm).

Some people love throwing their money at useless numbers though, that's no joke...

Madness87

Most every hotspot available now uses the wireless-n spectrum from mcdonalds, university etc...

My school has wireless-n, I have wireless-n at home, and my workplace has wireless-n. Your arguments fall completely flat. Because why add a 3.2 mp camera in the first place then on phones? The competitors are at 8 megapixels or above and whether or not you personally need that high in a phone is subjective, but if you were to compare devices, you obviously go for the one with better specs. I also have the bold 9000 and it was cutting edge when it came out with its high resolution screen etc... As for the iphone 4, the screen is now 960 x 640 and is perhaps the best screen ever put in a handheld or portable device.

To say its not a numbers game is stupid, since 95% of consumers go for numbers. That's why cars sell, tvs sell etc... 25% of hdtv owners ever use 1080p etc... And yet they pay somewhat more over a 720p/1080i set. Even though hd is broadcast in 720p and 1080i, why do people still pay for 1080p sets they might never use? Because its better to have it then not have it. Sure, you may not use wifi-n, but there's a significant amount of people who would.

For instance, from what I've seen from the 9800 slider, it uses a smaller/weaker battery than the bold or bold 9700. Why is that? Wouldn't a touchscreen device, with a keyboard require more juice? Why not bump app memory upto 1 gb if its possible?

You may not care about numbers but 95% of consumers do.

alex680

"What I mean is, early this year, they should have released a new Bold that looked like the 9000 but was slimmer, had wifi-n, a slightly larger screen with better resolution, had 512 mb to 1 gb memory, at least 5 or above megapixel camera, front facing camera, trackpad, and a 1750 MaH battery."

YES! This is just what I've been waiting for... my Bold 9000 is amazing; it's just starting to feel outdated. Unfortunately, none of the "updates" look appealing. And, as loyal as I want to be to RIM, the alternatives are getting much more temping...

RIM, please give me a Bold 9000 update... pretty please.

_StephenBB81

Reading his Article I don't see "App on the memory Card" as actually being a major feature.

What RIM needs to do is refocus on making the BB that much better for business, and making it attractive for the consumer, don't fight the App battle with Apple and Google, they will never win.

I really think the point of integrating business needs with the phone further is the way to make it happen, Make PIM better, allow "Call reports" for the contacts
Allow company location tracking built into the phones, very big brother, but build onto the BES a way for the company to get location data from the phones and track it.

Expense reports and travel are KEY here, if you read the next article on the site he talks about using his iPad when traveling, RIM needs to make the BB that travel buddy again, SIMPLE network connection with Wifi,

RIM needs to look at expanding into the NON smartphone part of business and integrate it with the Smartphone, WinMo had all kinds of scanner "phones" for businesses, go do a wedding registry and see them, RIM needs to capture that market and allow it to integrate with RIM phones, have your registry PIN messaged to you, have receipts PIN messaged to you from businesses running RIM Creditcard processing units, as a business user I would seek out merchants who could provide me with digital receipt copies to my phone which I could then print, or forward to my place of business, I could really expand on this idea for many many paragraphs, but I'll move on.

The internet surfing experience just needs to be as good as the competitors, give a clean fast browser, maybe donate to the Mozilla foundation and help them build a browser for the Blackberry they have done it for Nokia.

When it comes to hardware, though I hate to say it, RIM does need to get into the Hardware p*ssing contest, for a flagship phone which should launch every other year, they need 2 flagships, 1 Keyboard, 1 touch and they should launch alternating years giving people the upgrade from there preferred in put device, they have a year to cram the high tech in, they can release quarterly device updates for the other product offerings like the Pearl, Curve, Torch, Clamshell, etc....

Peripherals! something people seems to not think about with the mobile phone market but peripherals are important! if you live out of a notebook bag and carry-on, you want small tools, the pico projectors, that connect directly to the mobile phone would be a tool to promote, the coming message checking watch, again something that if marketed right could HELP phone sales. remote printing is great HP is doing well, we need a Printer that connects directly with the BB and can be used in the car small portable, business card scanners, work with CardScan or develop your own for a hardware option beyond just a picture as it stands now most of those suck, find a way to use Bluetooth headsets to the next level, email navigation via voice command? caller ID read through Bluetooth? voice command GPS? make the peripherals a KEY part of the blackberry experience.

If I thought people could take more of me I'd keep writing but I fear I would go on for far too long so I'll end it here.

jiggz22

Good article but I just don't like it when articles and debates always start with blackberry's emailing pros. Everyone knows that. People at Apple knew that and people who made Droid enabled hand sets knew that, that's why their focus was on fun, user friendliness and simplicity yet being capable of doing some business oriented things. But the general public is far greater than those business people that need to email someone every 5 minutes but those phones that aren't blackberry's that people have can email so it's good enough for them. How many teenagers require a blackberry? How many adults who don't need to email people from 7am to 1am need a blackberry? That's why bb's lead and stock is dropping in the market. They need to have something that'll blow people out of the water instead of dropping hand set prices.

jasonriot

They need a drastic o/s upgrade something that will loosen the choke hold being had on the type of apps being released for blackberry. They should really think about touch screen devices as the majority of smart phones are going in that route. They need to get the flash player going as well.

jasonriot

They need a drastic o/s upgrade something that will loosen the choke hold being had on the type of apps being released for blackberry. They should really think about touch screen devices as the majority of smart phones are going in that route. They need to get the flash player going as well.

kingzee

Honestly, this sounds too "businessy." It shouldn't have to be this deep for RIM to survive. :(

MissJennell#IM

You do realize that RIM is a business right?

jiggz22

That has nothing to do with her comment genius. That's a valid comment from someone who has a bb but will jump ship.

MissJennell#IM

So a business shouldn't be 'businessy' about fixing its problems?

kingzee

Of course I recognize its a business. I own several of my own businesses, so I'm not oblivious to any of this.

Perhaps the context of my comment was missed.

What I mean is that most of what was written was aimed at a corporate level audience. Sure, they can sell to them, but for RIM to truly survive they have no choice but to "dumb it down" and become a hipster, marketing to the everyday consumer. That IS what they've been trying to do, but can't keep up. They know that entirely focusing on the business-world won't be and isn't very lucrative.

So saying "too businessy" is to say if you endeavor to go that route you may not find huge success. So, yes, it was too "businessy," focusing on the business world alone. They need to jump in and rumble with Apple/Google or I think they can call it quits.

These suggestions sound good, but I don't think they're any longer ideal or realistic. Maybe 5 years ago. But wait, this *was* RIM's business model 5+ years go.

;)

AgentScribe

These recommendations are on target, precise and constructive. Not only is RIM a business, but failing to look at this from a "businessy" perspective could be disastrous for RIM.

Everything about iPhone's success thus far can be credited to good "businessy" approaches, which includes "fantabulous" marketing.

I appreciate constructive criticism and hope that RIM remains successful, but I am not so loyal that I will buy subsequent product (I'm only on my 2nd Berry) that is crap relative to the competition. And I'm not talking about UI. I love BB's UI (BOld 9700 and potentially the Slider 9800) but I want to see better functionality with regard, you guessed it, business apps.

If I didn't need a smart phone for work, I either wouldn't own one or would have bought an iPhone (or, these days, the HTC Evo).

Kevin

DrewDT

I think this article is right on target and very well thought out. RIM needs to stop playing the chasing game and start really innovating again and focusing on things that will make it stand out from other smartphone choices.

I just hope RIM is listening.

andyahs

Great read and hope that RIM can continue to be a serious player in the smartphone market as I for one will continue to hold on to them.

Ebscer

I would avoid the myth that having that particular location would be of any help. It may help with publicity, but means nothing in terms of actual product.

ceepee

why can a bunch of regular joe's think of this and the Big Great RIM can't? honestly if they can't figure it out, i don't see them surviving down the road.

emagdnimohno#CB

All RIM needs is a touchscreen phone, with a good processor(1ghz or better), plenty of multi-tasking, and an HD screen. Blackberry 6 needs to be released soon too.. My sprint contract is gonna be renewed nov 1st. If RIM doesn't have a new phone and blackberry 6 by then, I'm getting the samsung epic 4G. Android is looking to be the future.. Come on rim, get us something fancy!

cupkate_90

I'm sure RIM will do just fine.

joski

I thoroughly agree with you.

BoldMeister

People have been prognosticating RIM's demise for a good 5-6 years now. First it was Palm. Then Windows Mobile. Nokia and countless others. In each case, all of these competitors had better hardware and could have destroyed RIM. But somehow it never happened.

True, Apple and Google are more serious competitors than in the past. But as long as RIM can update their user interface, browser and hardware to enable the same features as Apple and Google within a reasonable timeframe, they will be able to retain a large number of their existing customers. Not all, some will defect - but it's a really really big market out there.

RIM will have a decent browser. Flash support. 1 Ghz+ processor. 3D graphics. Touch capability. Front-facing camera for video conferencing, RIM has said as much already. It's just that RIM has never been on the bleeding edge of anything, and that has traditionally served them well in the business space.

But I think there are clear signs that RIM is stepping up this game. Mark my words, I think Storm 3 and the like will blow us away, as they know that people won't write good software unless the hardware can do neat things. Gyroscopes and augmented reality, they will have to support it.

I wouldn't count out RIM just yet.

Detective M Downs

Very good read, and I agree with it 100%...

MLE724

He touched on some really good points. In addition to that, I'd like to suggest that RIM listen more to their install base and a lot less to the analyst and marketing people that have led them in the most recent direction. There are many great things about the Blackberry, but also many shortcomings that should have been corrected long ago. And who knows them better than the people who use them every day.

Antonyjeweet

The install-base of RIM is getting much younger. The features are very good, but many new ( young ) users think the UI is outdated and looks old. I think its simple and clean, and pretty easy to use. OS6 will be good, but i will stick to OS5.

Offcourse the real die-hards ( bussinesman ) will still use a BB for work, but with the bbm many young people buy one, and they dont even use all the features.

Keep the Bold and Storm series for the high-end users, and make the Curve series more fancier and with an updated interface to keep the younger people interessted.

But that is my opinion.

( sorry for the bad engelish :) )

iMiiTH

I agree with this. At my high school, I've seen many people switch from iPhone to BlackBerry, Android has no relevance with the younger crowd in Canada (due to lack of phones). They switch because of the outstanding integration of messaging features - multiple push im clients, bbm ect.; the keyboards, and data compression. Data compression is a huge factor because data plans here are just so dam expensive. In the usa, tiered pricing is incoming and only BlackBerry will benefit from that.

kullkid92x

Im going to my senior year in high school now, and i can tell you that in my schools hallway (miami,FL. G Holmes Braddock) a lot of kids have BB's and i ask those who are my friends, why did you get a BB (me thinking that BB's were for business people or tech geeks like me) and they all say BBM, AIM (beejive), Keyboard, and the girls like how you can customize the body of the curve (8300, 8520)

hector.ruiz

If RIM expects to compete with the iPhone the result will be catastrofic, just go to the basics, just by improving the devices (9800 is a great example) and keeping a slim offer of devices should do the trick...

mattpowell19

RIM needs to get more competitive and they need to get there fast. Apple is alwasy making the news with this new and that new. Where is RIM and blackberry?? I think that RIM needs to pull a media stunt like what Apple did with that kid at a bar. There needs to be something that RIM can pull off to gain the spectators interest. They can't just sit there and send suttle pictures every once in a while. Ideas need to be moving at a very fast pace to keep up today. If not, blackberries, as much as I hate to say it, will get lost in the dust with everything else. Rim is creative and RIM is innovative, now just use what you got to create the next biggest think. make Apple users dump the Iphone and want the Blackberry!!

rockigirl

Good read with valid points. Much better than the bickering comments being tossed around in the threads.

Guatiao

At least RIM can't say it did not see the writing on the wall...

Jimberry Storm

I think sometimes the only press RIM gets is bad press. If you line up what the Blackberry can do along side the iphone and android it stacks up well or better in some cases as we all know but if you ask someone who does not use any of these platforms the can tell you about iphone or droid, but not a berry. I think they need to show the world and end salesman what their product can do.

splitgrey

RIM will not change, will not innovate, will not see the steadily rising tide that will eventually sink them. Im convinced of either one of two things; RIM is completely oblivious or has a superiority complex that would impress even Alfred Adler.
Whats the problem here RIM? Do you just not have the tools to compete or do you really think your product head and shoulders above the rest.
Tired operating systems with great email will not move units.

Also, to top it all off there is virtually no respect for their extremely loyal customers(youd have to be loyal to still put up with their phones.) They release these phones that are supposed to be revolutionary, only to find they dont work. Or, releasing the same phone with a sensor instead of a trackball. Are you kidding me?
I am sick of hard starting, sick of battery pulls, sick of OS fixes, sick of 'uncaught exceptions', sick of abysmal apps. Sick of their just general overall malaise.
Stale Stale Stale.

LoneDwarf

Switch to Android and you can insert 'Force closed' for the 'uncaught exceptions'.

splitgrey

Ha, ok
Good to know...
Grass is Greener, Right??

hoosercub

getting rid of uncaught exceptions and all the other general crap of the current os, switching to android also negates the term 'battery pull' from your dictionary.. have not had to do a single battery pull since owning my droid incredible.. not a single one in over a months time..

kullkid92x

can your droid go more than a day with 1 charge? ;]

.. of course with intense use, like texting (at least 400 messages a day, for me), browser (I'm always surfing through facebook), BBM or AIM (i IM atleast 4 people, constantly too), playing music (i connect my BB to my moms car for like 40 min of non stop house music :D)

see you're doin well with your droid, but for what i use a phone for, i wouldnt be doin half the shit i do without having to carry a charge along with my droid

so no thanx, BB is for me.

hoosercub

I sure can't, but then again, I can't remember a day without charging on any of my Blackberries either. Because I do use my phone for everything, since my power plug is modular though, I use my laptop to charge it on the go, since its always with me, and of course, like any good Blackberry owner should.. I have a car charger and wall charger separately.

My Incredible will easily last a day and a half the way I use it though from 100% to dead, Froyo 2.2 and an extended battery will help even moreso. Battery life is not an issue. I liked my BB but I like a platform that doesn't excel at just one thing, instead is good at everything it does.

CurvyCocoa

Seriously. When I got the 5.0 update, it killed the battery on my Tour, and I have to charge it at least 3 times per day with REGULAR use.

So no, Blackberry has no room for smugness on the battery issue.

NysFinest4Ever

have you experienced all the uncaught java exceptions on the BB? and the constant battery pulls. All platforms have their issues.

NysFinest4Ever

have you experienced all the uncaught java exceptions on the BB? and the constant battery pulls. All platforms have their issues.

dealguru

I think RIM must shed some of its models and keep focused on a fairly thinner fleet of models and constantly improve them. Honestly, I don't care how many models a company has and releasing year after year, but to me one solid piece with top notch features and performance are the key.
Apple really mastered this aspect of the game and has solid plans designed for more than perceivable feature.

Being a silicon valley resident, I can't appreciate this article more than saying, RIM's C level must read this (thought they already have plans designed for future).

_StephenBB81

I kind of agree with some Model focus!
but also like the diversity, my Opinion is that RIM needs to make 2 flagship phones with 24 month update cycles, 1 touch, 1 keyboard candybar, in addition to those as the premium phones, they need the "fleet phones" the 8330 was an awesome fleet phone, durable, affordable, got the job done, RIM needs that for the medium sized business market, they need the Pearl, the pearl has a HUGE fan base, some of them don't even realize that sites like this exist, they don't surf the next on the phone but the phone is there communication toy and love it, kill the pearl and tick off lots of people, they need to have the fun/play phone like the 9800 that is a hybrid of the 2 proposed flagships, it is a great way to experiment into a segment that might be great, might suck, need to try!
IF I was called by RIM and they asked what I would do with the models it would be
>BOLD - Premium flagship Candybar
>STORM - Premium Flagship touch screen
>Curve - Mid Range WORK Candybar phone
>Click? - Mid Range MEDIA Touch screen
>Bubble? - Mid Range MEDIA Candybar phone
>Pearl - Slim candybar
>Torch - Slider phone, (alternate yearly releases Landscape vs portrait)
Each phone line should have a 18-24 month upgrade cycle, they should have 2 phones per quarter launch maximum.

infinus

RIM produces Messaging/communication handhelds,
By mistake they are called Smart Phone (may be because device has facility to make a call).
.
I think ip4 or android are platforms that must keep getting evolved in order to survive their own created platform war.
.
RIM should more focus on BIS/BES with brilliant innovations in it.
New email software, folder sync for exchange, one stop printing from device, slot for pen drives, bringing more business tools to BB,
State of art web experience, easy to deploy/develop programmer API,
Diversify in digital business era.
They should make BB so it can replace netbooks.
.
Best of luck RIM

sunrisepromo#CB

Like everyone else, I think RIM has become stagnant on the innovation-front and doesn't seem to want to move forward, at all.

Unfortunately, that means that a lot of its users end up switching to an iPhone or Android.

I get my new Android phone in a few days. Like someone else posted above, I am sick of hard-starting and battery pulls and my phone rebooting in the middle of phone calls and not getting a very good web browser experience.

flyflyaway75

Good read. After my Storm broke, I grabbed a Palm Pre and that was a fun device, but after about a month the cool factor wore off and missed my calendar, email and phone. There was also that certain "Blackberry" feel that I missed. Blackberry, for me, has always had a get it done attitude and I think that is what RIM really needs to capitalize on, as it is what they do best.

rogerbinns

RIM really need to get their act together on firmware updates. The benefit of doing updates is that you do not have to get everything perfect first time - you can add functionality later, improve performance, improve usability etc.

My phone (8220 on tmobile) hasn't had an update in 2 years. They've fixed many bugs and performance issues in firmware updates for other carriers with that model, and boy do those bugs need fixing. From what I've heard, RIM leaves firmware updates to carrier approval, and a carrier by default is going to do nothing unless there is a high support load.

Where is OS5 for all the phones that were promised it a year ago? Note how Apple generates a buzz with every update, basically giving almost everyone with an iPhone a better phone. Google have finally got their act together and are also directly updating phones like the Nexus One although people with other Android phones are finding the same problem as Blackberry owners - infrequent or no updates at all.

I am only a Blackberry user because they have UMA. They have taught me that they ship crappy hardware that keeps failing (6 phones in 18 months on two lines!), that they have annoying bugs (media player draining battery when paused, random lockups requiring battery pull) and that you are stuck with it (no updates).

jletendre

I often wonder once (if) Apple moves cross carrier how their firmware upgrades will function. RIM is a victim of carrier control and approval of firmware updates. VZW tests for months before allowing so how will Apple handle that.

I'd love RIM to adopt what Palm did with WebOS, it was by far the easiest way to push firmware updates. Wireless Upgrade works ok, but the process is way to long.

RIM needs to weed down their devices to a core 2 - 3 models and streamline this they allow the carriers too much control over their devices.

Desconocido

but my faith is being questioned daily! Many of my BB friends have moved on. This weekend I was in VZW store discussing this very topic. In the last 8 months cellphone technology is leapfrogging. What was top notch 6 months ago is a POS today. RIM needs to do something. The article above sounds reasonable to me, but it is hard for me to wait around when even my wife makes fun of RIM knowing what a huge fan I am. I like the super app concept. Let's get it going. I think the next 6-12 months will be the crucial pivotal point that determines which way RIM goes...at the very least in my household and circle of friends.

RIM.. this is the largest website of fans you have. Look at the doubt we all have. You must realize this and act quickly. Please!!!

Valace2

Once the Android platform makes its way into the business sector RIM is done. I particularly loved the "can't out Iphone the Iphone" segment. RIM and its outdated OS is so far behind the Android and Iphone platforms. The business and government sectors are proping RIM up, what they don't get is that they will live or die based on the will of the consumer. Apple is keeping RIM afloat whether they know it or not. A cross platform Iphone would decimate RIM. It would gut them. An I am more an android fan than Iphone fan. I still have my Storm 2 but its the last Blackberry I will ever own.

LoneDwarf

At the risk of starting a war...

I just don't see how this Android OS is so much better than BlackBerry. Can someone explain it to me? I think if people say something often enough they just think it's the truth.

Maybe RIM just needs to hire a bunch of people to go out and just spam that their OS is great?

Valace2

First off let me say that tank recon is a pretty cool game. First off is the browser. Its awesome, either the Android browser or Safari are far and away better browsers than the Blackberry Browser, Bolt, and opera Mini. Yea 6 is bringing a better browser but we have yet to see it in action on an actual device, and I don't like the only video we have seen of it yet. Second, the amount of applications that are available for the Android platform, yes a bunch of them suck, similar to the Iphone app store, but there are still plenty that from what I have seen are pretty awesome. Then we move on to ease of use. Gone are the long miserable menus that the Blackberry OS is plagued with. I am so tired of scrolling through menus. Then we move onto the ability to customize your screens. With Blackberry you get a home screen and a app screen. Wow. Even 6 is just bringing a couple added pages, and current themes bring that. Don't get me started on the ability to root your phone. I love being able to upgrade my Storm 2 and it sounds like Android will give me the same ability. Hardware. The next gen of Blackberry devices will have a 5 MP camera. Wow. I would wager a guess and say Android devices by the end of the year will rock 10 MP cameras. Hell they already have 8 MP cameras. Also Blackberry refuses to deviate from their current form factor, ignoring public demand for higher end touchscreens. They have shoehorned the Blackberry Keyboard into both the Slider and the extremely fugly clamshell. Processor speed. Android is up to 1ghz and soon even higher than that.

Shall I go on. Blackberry does email. It does it better than any other platform. As a communication device they are second to none.

Its not enough anymore. Not for me.

LoneDwarf

Thank you for your comments on Tank Recon.

Most of the stuff you're talking about is hardware and I agree completely with this. RIM needs higher definition screens and faster processors. Drop this click stuff for the love of god.

I myself use the browser for crackberry.com and not much else. I just don't browse much. Again part of the browser being better on Android is the higher definition screen. Sure maybe it's better but it's not really an OS issue IMHO. Still, point taken.

How do you like trying to hunt down the apps that are currently running on your Android? Drives me nuts.

What about the huge pull out of apps on the home screen? Filled with a ton of free junk apps mixed in with other apps I might actually care about? I don't find the Android home screen so hot. I really loved it at first. Looked pretty. Honeymoon is over. Can someone tell me how to remove one of the icons I put on the Android home screen by mistake?

Look at the iphone. A few weeks back I was on msn with a friend that was using his iphone. He says to me, just one sec while I check the link you sent me. I find out later the iphone can't even task switch. This is the sort of thing I just expect to work on my BB.

Yes the iphone has multi-tasking now and yes they finally got cut and paste sometime ago. Why is it apple gets a pass on these pretty big core features? Well I will tell you why. Because the iphone is shiny and their marketing people are fantastic.

hoosercub

Yes a lot of the banter he was going on about is hardware, but RIM has already said they'll step up on that with the hopefully, next generation of devices. As it sits they're just behind in that department.

As for the actual OS being better, it just is, it doesn't feel archaic, its fast, its efficient, it doesn't allow itself to consume memory down to nothing resulting in a battery pull, it has active memory killing built into the OS so if something is causing a problem it takes care of it, no problems. As for 'hunting down apps' its done about the same as the blackberry guys do it.. using reviews and helpful hints from sites just like this one. the App World on BB is horrid, I haven't used it since said update but I can't imagine it being much better.

The Android browser is better, its planned to support full flash in the future, something I don't see any of the current BB devices being able to do smoothly. I already have Flash Lite on my Incredible. Between the few blackberry devices that I did have.. I eventually got to the point where I stopped using it for browsing altogether simply because of the browser, it wasn't involving and didn't make me feel like I was getting anywhere with it.

If you're having trouble removing icons from Androids home screen, you're putting way too much Blackberry mindset thought into it.. long hold, then drag to the trash/bottom after it selects it, and thats it. Depending on what device you're using referring to the 'free junk apps' just uninstall them, either by going to the market and using your downloads section or just go into the menu under 'manage applications' and uninstall from there, you'll be impressed at how little time you'll spend uninstalling anything you put on the phone and how you hardly ever have to reboot because you uninstalled something.

I see Blackberry slowly dying and it makes me sad. It stepped into a market and then couldn't hold its ground, for business/enterprise, its still the most solid device on the market, but it pretty well stops there and shortly after messaging. Keep in mind that Android is only a few years old.. how long has RIM had an OS? When Google updates Android they really get shit done, make major changes and give consumers what they need/want, unlike Apple who gives you a select set of things and basically tells you that you will be happy with that, or like RIM that releases 5.0, which is just a revamped version of 4.7.. with a few new features that make things a little more polished and simpler, but still nothing amazing. From what I've seen of OS6 I'm still not impressed, They need a serious revamp, or what I believe is truly the solution for rim is two sets of devices, and two OS's.. one marketed towards the white collar/corporate customers, and the other towards the general consumer that wants the power of RIMs push notifications and email. They already have two different data packages, one for BIS and BES.. why not finish that seperation for consumer grade devices/operating system and one for business grade.

LoneDwarf

Thank you for the tip about removing the icon. I am sure I am not the only one that has had trouble with this.

The active memory kill is only as good as the developer that has to painfully try and support it. Heck even the Google engineers couldn't get it right with their own Lunar Lander example. IMHO this the most broken part of the OS.

Come on. You must have been giggling when you wrote that :) Have you used Google Market and App World? Google Market is a complete joke compared to App World.
- 2 screen shots only.
- 325 max description.
- a couple of categories to break up the MASSIVE list of apps.
- no way to view apps on a PC.
- new apps aren't always new, they can just be updated (causes real new apps to be knocked of the list).
- only 7 countries can sell apps.

Google gets shit done when they update because they have to. So much is broken. I had to make Tank Recon 2.1 and up to support multi-touch.

What, you're not impressed with the spinning lady and the Black Eyed Peas? I must admit that was painful to watch. Let's see what RIM does, so many times RIM has been counted out.

hoosercub

I have used the Google Market.. quite frequently, although I hear the AppBrain app is a good replacement for that, which does allow downloading and viewing from a PC. I haven't had trouble finding anything, when I got in search of an app, no matter what platform it is for, I generally know exactly what I'm looking for, its not a safari, and a simple Google voice search in the market provides me with exactly what I want.

I hope you're seriously not going to compare Android apps with BB apps.. because thats a no contest winner for Android, sure theres lots of crap, but you'll have that in any application resource, same with App World, except theres a wider range of applications that are useful, rather than having applications that aren't innovative taking up all kinds of space on the market. One thing you mentioned was the massive list of apps, and I'll agree with you, its a bit hectic to sort through that many apps, same with the Apple app store, I don't really think having more apps means a damn thing. Its turned into a big cock size contest and Apple is winning, but I don't care if Android ever breaks 100,000 apps.. I'm more than happy with whats available and I honestly can't think of much I'd like to add to my phone as of right now.

What exactly is broken about AndroidOS? 3rd Party applications are not applicable, what is broken with the OS? Does Blackberry support real multi-touch? no. Google gets shit done because its what people want.. something everyone seems to forget about Google's Android OS.. they're the youngest player in this game. RIM has been using and developing the BB OS since 1999.. Google didn't put out a device until 2007. The same year as the iPhone but it did come out after the apple slate.. and the growth of the device software has come at an astonishing rate. The longer they work on it, the more polish and shine its going to have. It has only been about 3 whole years since Android has been actively overtaking the smartphone world.. and it wasn't that long ago we got the first Droid, Apple is still on the iPhone, same device, same BS.. RIM still has underspec'd hardware, that is going to result in serious fragmentation whenever OS6 comes out, and if any of you really think your device will be able to support flash, as of right now, you're all kidding yourselves. They just lack the power, and thats all there is to it.

RIM does what they do best, messaging and email, and that is honestly it. I would like to see them exceed those already common expectations and build a smartphone platform for the masses, that can do everything in addition to what they've mastered for years. Because if you're under the impression that the BlackberryOS isn't in the slightest bit, stale, or archaic, you're kidding.

LoneDwarf

I am not comparing the apps for Android and BlackBerry, I am comparing the stores. The BlackBerry store is much better than Google's hands down. When AW 2.0 comes out the difference will be even bigger.

BlackBerry has had multi-touch since OS 4.7. I have to admit though that there is a bug in their multi-touch.

I didn't realize that we were handing out handicaps. Who cares how long they have been at it, the point is which is better.

I will admit that the OS is smelling a little ripe. Really OS6 is what OS5 should have been. Still I feel the OS isn't much of a problem and if they can step up the hardware.

hoosercub

What exactly entails the quality of the Blackberry App World being better than Google's Marketplace. I will admit the only fault I see for Google is the inability to browse applications on the web, but that will be taken care of by the end of the year, and will also enable the ability to send applications, not an email with a download link, to your device and autonomously install the program you selected.

I know that some people claim that the 9530 had multi-touch running 4.7.. but it simply isn't so.. the Storm2 however does support multi-touch on 5.0.. its implementation is complete crap though. So it is rendered basically useless. Again falling to the lack of power in hardware to make running applications that could take advantage of such abilities useless.

We're not handing out handicaps of any kind. If anyone gets one, it should be the geriatric OS that I had on my Tour and my Storm and my Curve before that. The leaps of technology Google has made in the past couple years are light years ahead of RIM on the Blackberry OS.. I was stating that because its kind of sad that the BB OS is still what it is.. the same thing it was 5 years ago, only shinier.

OS6 looks nice, but its hardly going to scratch the surface of what Blackberry needs to nab onto to maintain its place in the market, since they seem to be going for more than just enterprise users nowadays. The hardware will have to be stepped up if they plan to continue in the right direction and if they ever hope to incorporate Full Flash in their web-kit.

I really do want to see RIM do something astonishing and revolutionary to the brand and make it competitive, I know people have been saying that RIM is dying, its not, it will always have its place for what they do best, but if they hope to stay mainstream like they had been in the past, well its time to crank it up to 11.

Valace2

A year ago I was a staunch defender of the Blackberry platform. I had a Pearl and then moved up to the 9530. It was great seeing the improvement made to that device over time and when 5.0 was finally released for it, it was a good device. The 9550 launched with a good OS, and it has never gotten any better. I was hoping to see improvement and as yet have not seen any at all. To top it all there has been no confirmation that the 256 MB devices will even receive 6 yet. I have no faith in a company that can't support their devices like that. Android has worked to bring newer OS versions to the G1 for god sake.

hoosercub

that for the 9550 it will ever get any better, and I'm relatively sure that you won't be seeing OS6 on said 256MB devices. The G1 is finally falling back, but the wonderful thing about the G1 is it was so simple to root and hack, that it has been upkept to most of the latest standards for Android device, some others like the Sony Xperia X10 fall fate not to Google but rather to Sony, similar to HTC Sense equipped devices.

bobaloo

I Agree that RIM needs to adjust their focus a bit, but I don't think this article is exactly on target. Actually I think it's extremely broad. It's like a coach telling his team to play hard. Not much help really.

I'm a huge BB fan and proponent of their offereings. They have long had important features and functionality in their products. Where they fall short is the usability of those offerings. It leads to a less pleasing experience.

RIM needs to go beyond just creating functionality. They need to nail it in every single aspect.

Why can't I have usful subcategories in my Tasks application? I need to use a third-party app and jump through hoops for synching. If I could have something as simple a subcategory, I wouldn't need to do that.

Why is my calculator on my storm laid out in a phone keypad layout and not a calculator layout?

Why, when voice dialing, do I need to say the entire name? I wish I could use nicknames for voice dialing.

When saving a file, going through the file tree is exausting. That should be way more intuitive.

Why are we still getting truncated email? i can maybe see it useful to keep from wasting bandwidth, but let me have the option of downloading that large email if I want/need to.

Those are just a few minor examples I can think of while I'm waiting on hold at work. I could go on and on, and I have lots of ideas.

Now, after they nail these things, they need to educate... or at least make people aware of how useful their offerings are. Why is the 9700 still sold with a non-5.0 version of BBM? Does that even make any sense at all?

To be fair, I love my BB and I have adapted to its shortcomings and can work around them efficiently. But I look at my dad, who is not so tech savvy. He could really use the functionality of his BB, but he'd probably have a much easier time with an iPhone if I would allow him to get one.

ceb

The early BB were indestructable. I can't remember how many times my 6700, then my 7200, 7700 and 8700 went flying out of their holsters at gas stations. I never expected them to break and they didn't. I just brushed them off and stuck them back into the holster.

One RIM decided that they needed to expand their market focus and they came up with pink, red, white and whatever color phone, that expansion came with a decrease in quality.

The transition from the 6700 to the 8700 was seamless - but there were important technological improvements.

RIM - decide what you want to be. If you want to be the #1 business tool then go after that market. It isn't the same as the Android or iPhone market.

Once you've decided on the market, then bring the end user the tools they need to do their job. Well thought out, well designed apps that work quickly and well and integrate well into the OS.

SeeBeeBerry

I like the BB. Coming from a Iphone and that rich internet experience the BB was a big let down. The little magnifying glass come on what a joke. I do like a real keyboard as opposed to the touch keyboard I find myself making less typing mistakes. RIM shouldn't try and compete with the iPhone or EVO just improve on what it does best and come out with a better browser and Social Net apps like Facebook which is terrible on a BB so terrible I deleted it from my BB I can wait till I get home to my computer for FB.

1magine

Its all been said before and certainly far better than this guy.

Catching up in the e-mail space? That is ABSURD! The e-mail experience on an Incredible and the e-mail (exchange server) experience on a IP4 were both far better. Nothing truncated. Full HTML.

What does RIM have? A large scale buy in to BES. But all over the globe,IT departments are hearing from new young executives, new young partners, and they are tired of carrying an I-phone and a BB. And they want to get rid of their BBs. How much does it cost to phase out BES? Not much. Exchange server is free. Handsets - well that is all being worked out ever so quietly in the board rooms that spin the world. Pre-installed applications set by an Admin with an Admin password, ensure that a user password must be used to unlock devices and provide admin with remote lock/unlock, wipe and locate services. Just like on a BES. And with RSA working closely now with Google, 128 bit secure encryption can be utilized for remote access to workspaces.

What does RIM have? Tens of millions of cheap aging handsets locked into a dinosaur called BES. The problems are software; the problems are hardware; the problems have been hashed out so long and so often that everyone reading Crackberry knows them by heart.

Addison, WI is a lovely place. But once WWII soldiers spent time in Paris, it was clear that there were better ways to do things and a finer way to live. BBs do a lovely job at pushing secure e-mail to our handsets in a timely manner. Efficient and tested. But once you've spent real time working with other operating systems, well... the buggy, clumsy official BB OSes with their random reboots, slow spartan applications and well aged core programs are no longer quaint.

tracksforhire

i couldnt have said it any better myself

jletendre

Are you seriously comparing Exchange ActiveSync to a full BES? I guess if we're comparing BES 3.6 it might equal out.

All these new young executives, partners have no idea what entails supporting mobility at an enterprise level. I'm sorry if you somehow think it's "free". Exchange is not free, our EA is in the millions if you think otherwise. EAS is a simple means to provide remote email. It does nothing to provide actual management of your mobile deployment, doesn't allow connection back into your infrastructure, no PBX intergration like Blackberry offers, has little to no reporting capabilities, no means to deploy and manage applications etc. Great they provide a handful of basic security enforcement. Too bad half are not support on Android / iPhone. Seems you would need to purchase another middleware solution to get the control level BES provides.

Now for those places that want BES but not the cost - BES Express is fully free and provides more control then EAS. Everyone wants the nirvana of device choice but the SAME control / security. I'm sorry it's not there even with said middleware solutions. Someone is going to either accept the risk these other devices allow due to lesser control or foot the bill to make them as secure.

Did iPhone get Task or Notes support yet? Can't seem to do that on iOS4. How much does it cost to have your senior staff on devices that might not get (or make) a call / email during a vital business meeting? If you have any experience with EAS you know it's a battery pig and not too reliable.

_StephenBB81

If you think that the other platforms compare, I question how many e-mails that you HAVE to read and reply to you get in a day, when you have 15 minute break outs from sales meetings, the BB is there you can manage the multiple email addresses from a single in box, you can manage the PIN/BBM messages from colleagues customers, and you can get soo much more done. I have to say RIM is ugly at email but it is just too quick as the article said, if you have 5 minutes to bang out some replys getting 3 done vs getting 1 done is HUGE, that is why BB is still king in email,

When it comes to CORE business RIM is still #1, when it comes to the play side, and I don't mean that as a toy, but if you have a single phone and less than 50 emails a day, the iphone/android will out do the BB on paper all day, but when you have to manage 100, 250, 1000 phones within a company, apps to download dont matter, because everyone needs the same phone, BES is the best tool for a closed corporate environment, jletendre said it better than me so I'll leave that to him..

Jaji_vzw8330

Keep doing what works, and for everything else look at the android and ifone platforms and try to keep up!

Xader

Have you hot been paying attention?

That's exactly what they're doing, and that's the problem...

Jaji_vzw8330

No they're not. They're TRYING to keep up. big difference. Innovation is good and can separate you from the pack, sure. But first things first, get up to par. Then move forward from there. There are many aspects where BB is a complete joke compared to other platforms.

epicure30

The reason why I switch phone, to.... it is not the platform. The reason is they build cheap phones! they do not last 3 years. I had to replace my 9700 twice in the first year of purchase. I started with the 7250 that was the best made phone ever but after that it was cheaper and cheaper. I hope H.M. enjoyes her phone before it falls apart.

Stacy J. Kritsas

Well Written!
I feel that this is a very well written article and I hope that the people at RIM not only read it but have also been working on something along these lines before it is too late. Every other equipment manufacturer is offering new equipment and technology but RIM does not have anything scheduled until the end of 2010. I am due for a new phone this month and love my core email feature with my Blackberry but don't know if I should wait 6 months to find out what new and exciting options RIM will offer.

joryoung

I enjoyed this article and absolutely agree with it.

Sanch0

If it hadn't been for the iPhone, the Blackberry would still be a white collar only device. RIM and Apple need one another to keep smartphones selling in the US. It really works out for both of them.

The "out-phone the iPhone" is an important point people forget. If people want their devices to look, feel, and perform like an iPhone, then just get an iPhone. iPhone was the ground-breaking device and already has too much market share plus Apple fanboys who eat up everything Apple. On the multimedia side, RIM is doing alright. I think they should distance themselves from the iPhone to make something completely different. Kind of like what they did with the Storm and the surepress screen.

I'd like to see RIM work with other companies like Cisco Systems, maybe come up with a better BES.

Marcg34

I honeslty hate to agree, but N.G. has a valid point. And the first paragraph under #2 is on point. It does kinda seem as if RIM is coasting along the the smartphone road when others are coming out with matching and surpassing ideas and innovations. STEP IT UP RIM!!

tracksforhire

I was a long time BB user and since left to Android. By the time RIM realizes that they need to do something big it will be too late. BB users need to just accept the fact that RIM is not being innovative enough to keep up with the times. Android seems to be the future but time will tell.

TheEdge

The Blackberry hype is almost over. Stop playing catch up with Apple or Android. You have lost the app war. So focus elsewhere.

You have also lost gaining ground on CONSUMER marketshare and it will continue to slide. That's because you lose on the number of apps available. There's NO POINT catching up with Apple.

Firstly, If you can't beat them on apps, then beat them on something else.

1) Security
2) Hardware
3) More distinctive niche's - BBM & Push Mail <--- Both getting pretty obsolete today. I fetch on my Bold and 3GS, and the 3GS is late by approximately 5 to 30 seconds....... so what? It's only 5 to 30 seconds late. And i use Whatsapp as an IM bridge between Smartphone devices. Can BBM act as a bridge?

Secondly, narrow down your target demographic already. Re-target businesses and business users. The dream is soon to be over so start re-building your positioning again. You lost it 3 years ago BTW.. So stop focusing too much on the consumer market.

RevyRah

So many of the issues we have as BB fans reside in the knowledge that most of these issues are so simple to target and resolve.

Like stated above, we should determine the file's worth. We should have easier access to the files than that ridiculous file tree. We are simply asking for Personal Customization.

Let us choose what browser we want for our phone. Let us choose what we can download. Let us choose what we can and can't send via email. Let us store applications on memory cards. Basically...LET US OWN OUR PHONES and stop limiting those of us who want/need more or less. There is SO much they CAN do.

How about thinking outside the box here. Make software AND hardware that doesn't come stock with these products. You want a larger processor? SURE, that'll be extra. You want to have a better camera for your phone? SURE take your pick and bring it to your local store so they can install it for you. Want multiple cameras? You'll need a new OS to support that too. You can piece what you want in your OS...

YOU get the idea. Just get on it already. That way you're already way ahead of the competition because the customization is left up to the user. You have the money. You know the tech is out there. The market is in need of it. What is stopping you?

jpres

A 9700 and an iPhone 4......
The Bold is utilitarian....
The iPhone is a toy.......
I'm very, very happy........

storm83

RIM cannot mix business with pleasure. Browser suckss. Almost everything about BB sucks except for email. Peopele are running away for a reason. I'm one of them. Say hello to droid83. OS 6.0 better be the $hit. Those lame processor speed aren't helping either when everybody else aiming a GiG+ processors.

vx1

ok now here's how it should play out...

rim needs to create a hardware change to challenge the market.

how? make it possible for people to upgrade their own RAM, Processor on the device and other things, make it possible for people to almost build their own BB and sell a KIT to do it. Basically offer the opposite of other manufactures

Offer 2 types of BB: 1 Pre-made or 2: Do it your self

- continue the themes and icon dev make the BlackBerry totally customizable
- keep radio signal and batter above the crowd's envy
- deepen BB culture
- Be Original and Test it / Quality Control is Job #1
- of course complete the BB 6 OS / Browser but ultimately look to building on the Creative and Dev part of BlackBerry.
- ignore apple,android and focus only on the best that BlackBerry can be.
- dig in on security
- ramp up quality control
- get in the media via word of mouth

chopsticks

I believe RIM needs to be shot in the foot to wake up and see what the buyers want and need. I love my BlackBerry a lot but it is very hard to sell one to a person who has never bought a smartphone before. All I can say is that there is the best email in the world, security is top notch, BlackBerry to BlackBerry messaging (like Apple's Facetime but with texting and sending files.)is very neat. But that is all I could say cause then the customer would be like oh does the BlackBerry has many apps like the Droid or iPhone? How is the hardware? RIM I beg you guys to come up with something that can and will blow everyone's socks off. I hope that in the next few months there is something that would make me say wow. If not I am jumping ship to Samsung Epic 4G. Why? cause it made me go wow. You made go wow with the Curve 8330 now it is just stale with the Tour 9630. Don't imitate, innovate.

HTC_Droid_EvO

Get a wow factor in model ...design...and OS

RIM sucks glad the site knows it

anon1720446

Duo core 4G Ditch JAVA! Get a drug with APple under the table, free tethering. Exclusive to SPRINT! Ditch BBM create BB Skype app! HDMI out 1G on board memory. Ditch the memory card and create B-Drive! RIM and Sprint can crap on the Iphone and Andriod! Forget the touchy feely touch screen. Anyone outhere the really wants an Iphone save your money and buy a Itouch! Keep your BB! Take the Tour baby!

eepers14

The blackberry needs to be able to support the flash player like the android does. The Internet Browser is the biggest disappoinment.

Bob G

I don't want the BlackBerry to become an iPhone. I value strong fundamentals (e.g., battery life, signal strength, weight, etc.) and business functionality (e.g., security, compression, Outlook integration, mass storage mode, etc.) over a flashy UI focused on entertainment.

With that said, some basic improvements in usability could go a long ways to influence my BlackBerry/Android decision. For example:

- "Home" key. It should be quick and easy to launch and exit applications, but on the BlackBerry, there is no easy way out (i.e., back, back, back, menu, roll, "Exit", click, "Are you sure?", roll, "OK", click) without leaving applications to consume memory and power in the background. I think pressing and holding the "Back" key should act as a "Home" key and force the current application to exit. Also, the task switcher needs the option to kill the selected app(s).

- Notifications. To further aggravate the user experience, when I need to quickly jump into my BlackBerry to record or retrieve a thought (before I forget it), I am usually bombarded with modal notification pop-up boxes that I must process before I can get to my intended task, so often I just unlock my blackberry and blindly press "Back" over and over until I can get control of my device. BlackBerry really needs a notification area (similar to Android) that allows the user to process notifications at their own pace, rather than forcing notifications to be dealt with before anything else can be done.

the_stig#WN

How is BB Really so far behind? The Browser experience for sure, but other than that? Nit-pick anything you all will. I think you're all smoking too much crack.

Let's see - they COULD slap a 1ghz with 1G mem and a 4.3 inch screen on it. That's the easy part. So what. I've used the EVO - big screen - too bad you can't actually see it, unless you're in the dark. RIM has the form-factor perfect, good screens, a fully customization oriented OS, and keyboards (S2 and full QWERTY) that rock.

Go play with your iNoCoverage phone and the talking monkey app.

BoldMeister

The one thing you can always accuse RIM of is they're not as good as Apple in promoting themselves or taking old ideas and pitching them as if they invented the concept. RIM doesn't have the same rabid fan base supporting Apple and that gives people the illusion that "you can't do that on a BlackBerry" when the opposite is usually the case.

So it's largely about consumer mindshare, not really features. I agree, the bigger screens, RAM and stuff is all pretty doable.

But how does RIM try to promote themselves better?

njbianco

At one point i thought the same thing until buying a Android device and using it for an extended amount of time I realized how behind RIM really are. RIM needs to make the OS more customizable, add the smoothness of the iOS or Androids interface, they need more eye candy(not important to all but a lot of people will buy anything that looks pretty), and most importantly they need to find away to get waaaay more developer support. Theres a hole lot more things they need to do other then what i said thats just a few small things they need to do.

PS i now own the Evo and can see it perfect even outside in direct sunlight either your talking out your a** or your completely blind. Its screen is equal to my tours screen witch i still use as my secondary device for email and texting because one thing i love about blackberry is there incredible keyboards.

billygoat32

Agree with the article, however I'm getting tired of waiting for them to catch up. I realize RIM is all about business and paying crap loads of $ for solutions, but for my small business I can't afford to, and wouldn't if I could, buy a MS exchange server. I need a phone that integrates with my entire infrastructure without me spending thousands of dollars on cisco/microsoft equipment.

Android is on it's way up, I've pre-planned my jumping ship for late Q4 2010/Early 2011. It's been fun RIM, thanks for the good times.

mas3222

I agree about RIM needing to market themselves better. They're are great phones, nothing too flashy, but ready to do whatever I need it to. I'm working on a novel and out of the two hundred pages I have written roughly fifty of those pages were written directly on my BB with Docs 2 Go (the version that came with my phone and not even the paid version). For me I don't think I could find another phone to do that on but once again all personal preference as most will never write that much.

Rooster99

I'm CEO of a small firm who has a corporate background - I worked before for Oracle Corp. And I've had a Berry for a year and a half now and spent a lot of time learning on CrackBerry.

Given that, I understand the user & technical issues and I see where the article comes from, with the focus on communications and travel.

For an Oracle (or Worldmate) person or anyone else in the large corporate world those are the first and foremost drivers (as well as security of course). But those are no longer my priorities - I don't travel the world any more, though I do a fair bit of domestic travel. No one is going to focus on stealing my data or communications. None of my communications really suffer if I'm 3 minutes behind on responding, nor do I have to squeeze 3 email responses into 5 minutes, though at high double digit growth every year we're busier than h3ll. And to be honest, I don't find Berry emails or SMS messages all that fast on BIS, no matter what the marketing material says.

So I'm sorry, but if RIM really chooses to focus on the corporate segment and bet its lunch on email and security, I'm gone. And I suspect everyone like me - business users, but not large, corporate business users, will be gone too.

I want good app integration, and business/productivity apps are absolutely vital. But I have a life, and I will NOT carry 2 devices. Everyone in my company also has a life, and none of them will carry 2 devices either.

There's too much of a compromise right now to carrying a Berry. I use the web constantly for many business reasons, and it's too slow and awkward. I am a heavy PIM user, and it's too inflexible & unreliable - the functionality is worse than lame, and even weekly battery pulls are too frequent. I use my Berry for about 4 basic productivity apps plus a few games, some music and the phone, and the UI isn't smooth enough nor are the apps flexible or "rich" enough to make it a real pleasure to use - and I use it a lot, so that's a lot of time spent not having fun. On a side note, the reason I focus on only a few apps is the lack of "fun factor" - everyone I know with an iPhone or Android phone uses a lot more, simply because they can, and it's fun.

I've had faith, but the lack of real improvement in Berries over the 1 1/2 years I've had one has been a real disappointment. Will there be compromises with any smartphone? Yep. But for my "yes I want one device and I'm not white collar corporate" needs, I think the current Berry compromises are the wrong ones.

#1, #2 and #3 make sense, but as described in that article would only make sense to for the large corporate audience.

I think RIM has to decide who it's aimed at. But I get the feeling it's not me - and if they follow all the advice in this article, for sure it won't be me.

- R.

- R.

billygoat32

Very well said.

These are the very reasons I'm pushing out the Android OS phones to my company in 2011. As an Open Source company I need a phone that integrates with Open Source technologies, the Android does this.

Bob G

Android is only "open Source" until you try to use it without a Google account.

Moonbase0ne

I am waiting for OS6 and the 9800 but won't be waiting months for them. I am up for a renewal right now and would like a phone soon, but as far as a BB goes, there's not a lot of options out right now that I actually want to "upgrade" too. The only phone I can see from RiM that I am interested in is the 9800. The Flip? No thanks.

I'm gonna wait alittle bit longer for something "Official" from RiM about OS6(and not a Black Eyed Peas promotional video) and the 9800. if it takes them too long, I will move on, as I'm sure many others have already and plan on doing.

Sam K

I agree with the points in the commentary but in addition I think that RIM needs to realize that phone specs matter to the consumer (not necessarily to their corporate clients who mostly care about total cost of ownership). Everyone is talking about the new iPhone 4 and the high end Android devices (think Evo, Droid Incredible, Droid X, Galaxy S etc) and it's not just because of the OS on them. It's because they have amazing specs. They have very fast processors, high resolution screens (480 x 800 or higher) and high resolution cameras (5 or 8 megapixels). If RIM would put out more touch screen devices with much better specs, a more touch oriented OS and a better browser, they'd be a lot more people talking about their devices and wanting to get their latest devices.

When the original Storm came out in Nov 2008, it's specs were better than the iPhone 3G (the current iPhone at that time) but the OS was horrible. It took them 6 months to get the OS right but by then it was already trashed by everyone and had a horrible reputation on the market. Here we are almost 1.5 years later and they haven't come out with a Storm device with better specs. The Storm2 has the same processor, camera resolution and screen resolution as the original. I want someone to explain to me how RIM can justify having the same screen resolution on the Storm series as they have on the 9700/9630/9650/8900. HTC cranks out new high end Android phones all the time. RIM should be doing the same thing.

alex3305

The most important thing as a software engineer I am missing with RIM is developer support. Sure, we have the Javadoc reference... and that's about the only good thing there is about developing for BlackBerry. The con's that I am facing are:

1) Small developer costs. When you want to use all the API's - which you'll want - you will have to register with RIM for a $20 fee, which is reasonable. But if you want to put your application on App World you'll have to pay a fee of $200, which is simply too much for small developers. There are alternatives, like the Mobihand store, but they don't really have the coverage App World has. Dropping the cost to, let's say, $50 - $80 will be far more acceptable!

2) Good integrated development environment. The current IDE, a plugin for Eclipse, is sufficiënt, but not complete enough. It could be improved in two ways. The first way is rather simple and develop a rather simple plugin for the most used Java IDE's, which are Eclipse and NetBeans or integrate with Visual Studio (which would be the best thing ever!). The second way to improve it, is to develop a new IDE as a native - instead of Java - application and integrate the Simulator and a UI designer.

3) Proper simulator. The current simulator is just plain buggy. At first it looks like a great program, but I can't even close the application with the close button in Windows. I'll have to use task manager, which is odd.

4) 'Simple' UI creation. I tried to create a nice graphical UI a little while ago, but it was tedious and felt odd. Even programming an UI for a Java desktop application is simpler! Maybe a simple UI designer, or a framework, could be provided.

I think that when RIM could improve one or more things of this list, they can have more of their so called 'super apps' and more developers will start develop for BlackBerry. In my opinion the current method of creating a new programming for BlackBerry is boring, not excited and takes inmense amounts of time to setup - installing the IDE, different simulators, getting to know the API, testing your application, etc, etc..

Please RIM, improve this if you want more developer support, or at least my support!

philmanchu

It's simple, BB just needs to have a smoother OS and internet service that is quick like the others. I hear it time and time again. All the people see Verizon's, AT&T's, Sprint's and so on advertise there blazing fast 3G. But on the BB use only get RIM's service. It is slow and the apps are slow to work with it as well. The BB is a great phone and is a great business tool but when compared to even the cheaper smart phones or web phones it doesn't hold a candle when it comes to apps or internet.

brodcaster

Customer Experience

Entertaining

Compelling

Memorable

Customer Benefit

Pack all the goodies in every device that comes out.

Surprise US!!!

A strong reason why I should hold on to being a BlackBerry User

My best wishes to RIM :)

BluCheze

All we need is Keven from Crackberry.com to write a letter bringing users frustration to light. That would hopefully get their attention.
Kevin, please write a letter to RIM's CEO. Im pretty sure is on RIMs payroll, but i think its time to bring these things to light and put pressure on RIM.

Thanks!

br14

...interesting comments, but may I suggest based on a lack of understanding of the cell/smart phone market.

Take the "rethink the carrier angle". Why do you think RIM has an advantage with email? Why do you think they can do push? Because unlike most their software sits inside the carriers network so that addressing a cell phone is simple.

And because BlackBerrys don't have to poll for email etc (unlike everyone else), batteries last longer.

And as long as there are rural areas with cell towers, we'll need carriers and RIM is positioned as a carrier partner, not someone that uses strong arm tactics to get what they want.

When the iPhone loses it's shine, as it inevitably must, Apple will be dropped by the carriers like a stone and their margins will be slashed.

So lets skip the carrier comment.

Carriers like RIM because they can deliver up to 10 times more devices for the same network cost. Which is why, despite not being media darlings, RIM continues to grow rapidly even in North America (if not quite as quickly as in the past).

RIM being in Waterloo is a problem? But they're also in Ottawa, and Mississauga and Halifax and Houston and Atlanta and Florida and Silicon Valley and just about everywhere else in North America.

Sitting on the doorstep of one of North Americas top computer science universities is not a hinderance. Was Microsoft really hampered by being in Redmond? Did you know Google and other major technology corporations also have a significant presence in Waterloo?

And I doubt very much that a Palo Alto office would help when selling in Europe or Asia. (No surprise WorldMate has its corporate headquarters in Palo Alto).

"You Can't out-iPhone the iPhone". More to the point, why do you think RIM wants to? Yet another commentator that views the world through iPhone eyes and is therefore blinded to it's failings.

Apple are superb marketers and great at software and form. Not so good at hardware and wireless. If there's one thing RIM could learn from Apple it is marketing and they could improve their UI software.

And later this year that's exactly what they'll do if filed patents and rumours are anything to go by.

Oddly enough I don't think they believe the iPhone is really a big deal. What they will do is provide a similar product to meet customer demand, while still maintaining their core products intact.

RIM's problem, if they have one, is one of an organization growing too quickly. Their corporate bureaucracy has grown faster than they could handle (a little like Google if the rumours are true), and so everything takes longer to achieve and costs a little too much therefore eating into margins.

I assume that is why developer features promised for this spring have still not arrived and why it is taking longer than expected for new product releases (though 5 or 6 are promised for 2010).

Finally this article is based on three years of the iPhone that completely ignores the last 20 years of cellphone technology.

Both Nokia and RIM were built on a foundation of wireless engineering by people that understand the physical science of wireless. That's why both manufacturers produce decent phones as well as moving in the PDA space.

Much of the true advances in recent years; GPS, high speed internet over wireless; bluetooth etc, is based on radio technology.

In the end, if your phone doesn't work, you'll drop it and buy something that does regardless of whether you can play a mean game of Space Invaders. Of course if you don't need a reliable phone, then I suppose the iPhone is fine.

Cellphones are a commodity that consumers change every year or more frequently. And it's only a matter of time before the next big thing is released.

So don't be fooled by market sentiment or you'll get burned.

designatedd

Its pretty interesting to see essentially EVERYONE having the same opinion. So many people can't be wrong.

808r6streetrider

It just leads to preference in my opinion. If you want multimedia, go with iphone or Android. You want communication, go with Blackberry. I own a business where communication is important, that's why I have a Storm 2. I love the surepress technology. To me, it feels way better than my bros Incredible or my friends iphone. I have an Xbox 360 to satisfy my gaming needs. But I still have to say, RIM needs to bump up the processing speed to a 1ghz Snapdragon or something (wishing) and of course, more memory. And whats up with 10 minute reboot time. The UI in my opinion is great. I moved icons here and there and wala!, quick and easy to where I want to be. My Bro's Incredible is great, but to many widgets and flashy icons got me lost. But honestly, customize it the way you want it and it'll be all right. There is that "move" feature you know. And OS6 should help us greatly (I hope). And stop with the damn browsing experience already. Side by side with my Bro's Incrdible...please, not much of a difference. All in all, RIM, overhaul the power plant, and you'll be alright!

BB Musketeers

I generally agree with the comments in this article, however, I would say that the best email application I've ever used is Chatteremail on Palm OS, not Blackberry. Same with other PIM applications (like Datebook or Agendus in the Palm OS versions). Nothing else comes close (I'm sorry but the Blackberry calendar sucks). Palm did PIM very well. It was what initially appealed to business back in the day. However, Palm did not carry over that strength when it created the Web OS phones. Many Palm OS users left for other phones as a result. Palm OS was a dinosaur and through a compounding of mistakes Palm lost their edge.

RIM is walking the same road. Although it is much more entrenched, its current OS does not multi-task (although hopefully OS 6 will change that). I think a phone that can multi-task is going to be essential in the business market. Creating new options such as the ability to share all or parts of your calendar with select others would be nice (e.g. for all those businesses that want to allow clients to schedule their own appointments but still keep the rest of their calendar confidential, etc.). RIM can also look at things that other phones do well, that current Blackberrys don't (e.g. beefing up the PIM functions). The email can be improved. The countless outages can and should be fixed.

Just my 2 cents.

seeds

I dint even realize rimm stock was down until today! $47.90? almost time to buy!!!

abdul

This is the best constructive criticism review of RIM that I have read. Now I hope RIM will listen and make changes.

sivan

I would love more articles like this on CrackBerry.

I agree with all points. I'd emphasize two, RIM needs a stronger presence in the bay area. They have an office in Redwood City, CA working on the issues identified by the article, but it has yet to be felt yet and it's hard to say what impact it might have.

Also, Apple and Google are selling directly to consumers, bypassing the carriers. Those consumers then drive corporate demand. It's absolutely crucial for RIM to unshackle itself from the vagaries of carriers, the carriers are killing it.

One inconsistency: there is an inherent contradiction between touch UI and efficiencies. Take away the keyboard and spruce up the UI, and it is no longer possible to bang out those 3 emails in 5 minutes. RIM has to be very careful not to blindly imitate the iPhone and harm the efficiency of the BlackBerry.

Not_Impressed

How about .pdf's? What could be more business than a local .pdf? Can I open a .pdf on a Droid? Yes. Can I open one from the media card on my new 9560 Bold? No. Not very bold. You BB sycophants make me sick. I will cheer when RIM goes out of business and idiot CEO's have to wake up to a world where there are other, way better devices. How about this one Blackberry Boot Lickers, Speech to text on the Droid? "But my full size keyboard for my wittle fingers is the best"

Die RIM, DIE!

kuzak20

I have the bold 9000 and have stuck with it hoping for something to come along that dazzles but until now nothing. The curve, New Bold (really just a tour) and the Storm are acceptable phones, but hardly living up to the potential of RIM. The clamshell (welcome to the 90's) is a joke, the slider (very nokia ish) is also lame. Bring a Bold 9000 size, upgrade and then I might consider staying with Blackberry, otherwise I'm going for Android or Iphone. I have had enough of RIM's bs

jdizzle22420

You want BlackBerry to be better you need to mimic the Droid in every aspect..this is the very first Blackberry I've ever owned and it happens to be the very crappy 9530, I hate this phone and am jealous of anyone with a Droid. With there cool apps, and quick processer they will be the lead of any smart phone on the market. The way things look after my long two year contract is up I will be a Droid owner and I recommended Droid over BlackBerry. I just wanna thank blackberry for suckering me into buying a nice piece of crap..but mistake made and ill definitely learn from that one..

bpen_droid

Sorry for the 'catchy' subject title - I don't really mean that. However, I found the author's writing to be so misguided that it actually made me sign up and register for CB after reading casually for several months.

First off, I'm sure the author is quite brilliant and is far smarter, better looking, and successful than I will ever hope to be. With that said, I found the article to be high on business jargon and buzz words and light on fresh ideas. To sum it up, the authort recommends RIM do more of the same old - to an even greater degree. (Note to author: OS means operating system, not operations system...and this guy is a tech VC??? Really???)

RIM's core strengths are e-mail and communications, and...price. The first two are where RIM has an undisputed lead. However, it's not good enough - Apple, Google, and I'm sure Microsoft with its new WP7 platform have figured it out to give a good e-mail experience that would satisfy 99% of the users out there. To be frank, I have a Storm 2 and a Nexus One and the e-mail experience is almost better on the Android device. My e-mails are pushed out/in within a minute or two, sometimes even less, of when I get it on my BB. In my 10 years of working I've had exactly zero situations where getting an e-mail a minute later has made a difference to me personally. So the e-mail argument for me no longer holds water. If anything, reading long e-mails on a 2.4" screen (or 3.2" screen in my case) is less appealing than if I read it on a larger screen as users can do with the iPhone and Android devices. Also, while I like BBM the bad part of a closed ecosystem is that for the other 70% of my contacts that don't use BB I have to revert back to SMS. At that point, I'd just rather use SMS anyways or e-mail.

If anyone read RIM's 10-K its obvious to see where the growth comes from - Asia. RIM is blowing up in SE Asia, India, and China because the hardware is relatively cheaper than its smartphone competitors. In Thailand, where I live, an iPhone 3GS costs about $700 USD whereas a BB Curve 8520 can be had for less than $300. Additionally, BB plans can be had for as little as $10/monthly. This trend holds true in Indonesia, India, and the Phillipines. My point is, RIM's growth is at the bottom end of the market and if they rely on that then they will probably do fine, but in the long run we'll end up with a company that is large but far behind technologically b/c it only needs to compete at the low-end of the market.

To sum it up, RIM needs to do the following:

- Get back into the specs game and deliver specs that matter. Having a good camera is a selling point b/c I don't need to carry my point & shoot. Having a fast processor is a selling point b/c when I use my phone and don't need to wait 30 seconds for the brower to launch is a good user experience. Having a large screen is a selling point b/c it enhances the usability of my device from watching YouTube/videos, gaming, and browsing - all things people are using their phones more for these days because now they can (not because they don't want to, which is RIM's traditional argument). Point is, specs sell because they enhance the user experience not cuz they make you look better on paper. BTW...make a halo device...every phone manufacturer does it.

- Nurture your developer community more. Apps on BBWorld suck - plain & simple. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all pay developers, so RIM needs to as well. Every ad Apple or Google put out mention apps (There's an app for that & Droid does apps, etc...) - it's clearly important for marketing, but BB doesn't mention apps in their ads at all!

- Be more nimble. RIM is horribly slow at putting out software updates and making changes to their software. While Google leapfrogs the status quo, RIM's snail's pace does it a disservice. Someone wrote that Google makes so many changes b/c it needs to. However, I would say that adding Flash support, JIT compiler, voice to text integration, support for portable hotspots (native btw, not app based), and high resolutions are the kind of changes EVERYONE in the smartphone game need to make.

- Don't waste time on janky technologies. I said...janky. Surepress version 1 and even version 2 are ridiculous. Universally panned by most critics. Admit you're wrong the first time and don't try to save face. I really hope the Storm 3 corrects this.

Anyways, that's my BB rant. I think RIM will always be around, but I feel like on their current path they are on their way to joining our Finnish friends Nokia. They'll always be big and have a good size of the market share, but for the next year or two if I were a user I would definitely go iPhone or Android.

cvaria

and catching slack for... search my user name if you don't believe me.

I downgraded to my old 8830 (running os 4.5) after dealing with the crappy Tour and could not be happier. Why? There was really no change in the core product. The rest of the added "features" were useless addon crap. at the end of the day i just need to check ALL my email, keep track of appointments, and get my calls.

That is really all a BB is good for. there has been no significant innovation in the units over the past 3 years. same core product in a different wrapper (flips, sliders, 100 versions of the curve, pearls... all the same just different form factor and trim level. I fell for the hype and grabbed a tour and had to deal with the nightmare of the trackball and the horrible battery life... oops. a lot of people to the same dive on the failure storms too.

while the core product is still useful and very much relevant, the luster is quickly fading as other manufactures catch up. there needs to be some sort of innovation.

offir.a

Hey Nadav, it was a great read and I missed your sharp point of view on things.

Couple of issues from my direction:
1. I keep heading back to Henry Ford's famous line - "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse" and back you up on the fact that RIM needs to innovate – and not only by listening to all the current fans of BlackBerry – they are too biased.
Go back to the lab (locate it in Silicon Valley if that will it'll take) and work your magic. By the way, grabbing some talents from "other companies" might assist as well…

2. In Gartner's report on Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond (http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1293114) includes couple of interesting claims: "By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users". Another one is: "By 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging…"

– RIM cannot and should not think of email as the sole tool for the future business user – their future customers. I truly believe that eventually, even the white-collar business professionals are going to rely more on social networks, and integrate personal life + professional life. That's a great place to look for ways to innovate.

Looking forward to read more from you!
Offir Ariel
http://offirariel.blogspot.com/

lksell

Improve the browser would be the biggest improvement for the Blackberry. I wonder how much the carrier helps or hurts the browser, but Bolt and Opera both work much better and faster. Then faster processers and larger internal memory would also help. I love the Blackberry and hope the browser problem is fixed soon.

WillieLee

The only problem with this article is that the author, like many of the people commenting, seems to be under the impression that RIM isn't doing what is being suggested. For each point you only need to listen to the conference calls or read articles from sources other than the tech blogs to find real world examples for RIM.

As for the idea that they have to be in Silicon Valley or they are doomed, well that's rather silly and seems to be an effort by the author to reaffirm his choice of going to Silicon Valley. It also discounts the growth of technology and science in Waterloo. While it may not rival the size of Silicon Valley, it is attracting some rather prominent talent. When's the last time Stephen Hawking took up residency in Silicon Valley?

Butterfly2

Ur comment went right to the point! RIMM need to fix up they lean....I love the phone but it has so much more capabilities; RIMM is scared to take the next step!! and they r losing out will lose because of this. They dont have to be the nxt iphone/windows/droid!! Just be yourself and excel and what they do best move right into mainstream! And what RIMM need to do is so simple but they still being pigheaded!! But let's see I hope they pay attention to these forums!! Thanks for the article!!

Zipper

Wow, I'm blown away at all of this as I sit here on my day off this morning in the back yard, reading all the comments (except the fanboy rubbish).

First off, props to Kevin for having the marbles to post this and watch the fireworks, (you knew it was gonna happen). :)

While I did post in the comments of the iPhone 4 review, I have to say I still don't take back my frustrations and that I've been considering jumping to a new device for my reasons alone. The points you have all said about business productivity now actually lacking on a BB is correct! Because not all business is emails, calendar appointments, and phone calls. I've been in sales and IT network admin for years and as I stated in my other comments, its killing me that the iPhone and EVO can integrate properly where I am stuck and forced to use my laptop. Let face it, to expect your phone to be able to be compatible with all applications is pretty ignorant right? I mean, its a phone first.....right?

Well on that note, it pains me that coworkers on those devices CAN do much more where my BB falls short. I agree with the points of having now so many different BB's with marginal differences and I mean next to nothing here. The Pearls are great and a great phone for the kids, it rocks for that, I see it allot here in Vancouver.
But, for us business types that need to or rather expect our phones to be that of a power user experience is of the suck!

I don't need to list my reasons because its all been said and I tip my hat to it. With that in mind, I'm not completely throwing BB under the bus here, there just needs to be some change here by summer's end. With todays available technology, RIM can surely take advantage! For once I'd like to be able to store and access my useless 8GB memory card, open and edit PDF's DOC's ...you know Buisness files!??? Among a slew of other standard expectations.
I just can't believe that for a 9700 that is still young, it feels so outdated. I'm tired of being envious and would like to be proud again, I don't care who you are or what you do, speed is king! And runner up is versatility. The End.

Zipper - Vancity BC

yungcrum

I agree that Rim need to make some changes but when it comes to the basic smartphone functions their still #1. If you think about it iphone and android devices don't even compare when it comes to messaging which i believe is most important to most smartphone users.

One thing RIM needs to improve on is the specs on there devices. I like my storm 9550 but it would be a lot better if it had and up to date processor and more internal memory(8-16gb would be nice). This would allow BB devices to run a lot faster and help prevent lag and freezing. I just recently saw a video of the new 9800 running blackberry 6 and i notice that it did run a bit more fluidly than previous devices (thanks to the 512mb ram upgrade), but i still noticed some lag while scrolling because of the lack of processing power. Another well known problem RIM could improve on the browsing experience. Blackberry 6 along with its new webkit browser should be released by the end of this quarter, but at this point i don't know how it will compare to the browsers on competing devices. I would also like to see RIM with a better selection of apps and a higher screen resolution on their devices.

Zipper

Not to start an argument but listen, I didn't pay $700 for a BASIC smart phone, and I don't think any BB owner considers their phone to be basic? Price does also reflect value and performance here. So with some of your comments I do agree with, I don't agree with that or that other devices don't handle messaging as well, that's not the case anymore. Hell Nokia can handle VOIP beautifully without having to buy some large server rack unit for VOIP on BB. Just another gripe I have with versatility. EVO and iPhone message just fine among a few other higher end smartphones.

All in all, I agree with you about the memory, give us more! Or allow us more functionality with the memory card.

yungcrum

I know BB owners don't consider their BBs to be basic and neither do I. I'm fully aware of the advanced features of BB's and all other smamartphone device because i watch video reviews on them all the time. I just think that when it comes to messaging, which is a basic feature that all smartphones have in common, the BB is still the best compared to other devices. I never stated that androids and iphones don't handle messaging well. I just believe that BB's are better at messaging. Androids are pretty decent messaging devices but I think BBs have the edge because of BBM. Although BBM only works on BBs, its still the best IM app on any smartphone. The iphone is also a decent messaging device but its notification system is one of the worse amongst all smartphones. On iphones you only get one notification at a time and there's no led indicator to notify you of new messages. I also believe that BBs have the edge over other devices when it comes to typing experience but that's just my opinion after typing on all of these devices.

You mentioned something about spending $700 on a phone. I don't know if you were referring to a blackberry device but if you were, there are no BBs that cost that much money. Most cell carriers retail them for no more than $550 with no contract. You can even go online and buy an unlocked GSM BB for around $450. The only popular device i can think of that cost $700 dollars is a 32gb iphone.

We can argue back and forth about why we all think one device is better than others but every device has its pros and cons. Iphones and androids are great especially with browsing, apps, and multimedia but the blackberry is perfect for what I like to use a device for. My only gripe with RIM is that they won't add the latest specs/harware to their devices.

wilkinson127

I bought a Droid and returned it to get a Storm 2...mainly because BBM and the excellent push e-mail feature. The Storm 2 is an improvement from the Storm 1, but I feel the Storm 2 should have been the original storm. I'm hoping they get it together with the UI and the apps. Believe me if it weren't for that, I would have stuck with the Droid (I'm sure Android/Google will work on that). I gave RIM another chance, believe me, I wan't to stick with BB, but at the end of my contract, I won't be so loyal. This was a good article.