How to Save RIM: Part Two (Saving the Canadian Dream)

Instead of writing a eulogy for Research In Motion, I would rather focus on some ideas that might save the brand.

Perhaps it’s because I’m on optimist, or because I’m a hopeful Canadian entrepreneur and recent grad of Royal Roads University‘s Bachelor of Commerce program that I can’t help but think of ways to save “The Canadian Dream”.

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RIM stands out as one of the few high tech Canadian start-ups to play with the giants of a major industry and was actually winning for quite some time.

Mostly it represents great possibility to me of what can be accomplished from north of 40.

We also happen to share the birthplace, Waterloo, Ontario.

So how do we rescue RIM? Let’s examine the current market and some key players;

Apple

Has more cash than most nations on earth right now, a coveted brand and very good reputation for quality products. A tribal following that is gaining steam year over year and ability to out innovate and win patent wars that crush competition.

Where they are now with the iPhone is similar to where Blackberry was probably 7 or 8 years ago.

They seems to be erecting barriers as they attempt to claim the leadership in the market.

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Courtesy of http://www.comscoredatamine.com/2012/04/android-captures-majority-share-of-us-smartphone-market/

Google

The internet giant. The only entity still bigger then Apple and possibly more influential. Swallowed Motorola for patents, it’s Android OS pervades low cost tablets and a litany of cell phone that range in quality, perhaps peaking with offerings from HTC and Samsung.

Also gaining popularity and prominence – Apples number 1 threat (hence the Motorola acquisition – they seem to be prepared to play IP chess with each other for the next while).

Coming up third but still a major threat to the previous two’s market share is Microsoft.

Microsoft

Seems to be playing a game of catch up with its competitors, but should not be overlooked, is still a powerhouse. Think about how late it entered the gaming console market with the Xbox and yet now outsells the previous king of entertainment, Sony. The sleeping giant is waking up.

Microsoft is doing everything right these days. Not quickly, but right. They are taking time to reinvent their brand, working with more hardware vendors to compete with Apple’s consistency.

Their alliance with former cell phone heavyweight champ Nokia could pan out to be a very strong player. How?

Nokia is already a well-established communications brand – they only lacked a useable modern operating system. Windows mobile fixes this. Windows 8, Surface tablets and cloud services (Skydrive) form a very competitive and robust ecosystem that only Apple can match at this time.

Back to Basics

There is where we come back to RIM, without focusing on mistakes they have made, is there any way for them to compete with any of these giants? Is they brand worth anything anymore?

Yes.

Perhaps to a smaller set of business users that require higher level security, high quality communications and did I mention security?

The cloud is going to be an ethereal and magical place where many new computing experiences are to be had, until the first time a serious business reliant server gets hacked, then it will be terribly frightening.

Perhaps the R&D and acquisition budget at RIM has run dry, so my previous article about pioneering battery life tech may not be realistic at this point. But they can still focus in on their core competencies.

The Fix

How many models of Iphone are there for sale? Pretty much 1 (2 now), and the previous iteration at any given time?

Why does RIM have 17 models!!?

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Many of them hardly look different. Who are they building these things for?

Reign it in guys, you need 2 phones, tops.

Who is your market? It’s not kids, it’s not grannies, and it’s not even teens anymore. Come back to centre. FOCUS on your target market, your core competency.

Business people.

Make it attractive to have one, make it the BENZ of cell phones for business people but most of all make it functional, make it an ESSENTIAL tool.

Consolidate your 17 designs into 1 or 2 which focus on the business user’s needs (yes I’m going to come back to battery life).

Perhaps a larger screen, a superior keyboard, class leading security, a cloud service for documents and perhaps MS Office Mobile, built in.

This is where a strategic play can be made. Business people still love Microsoft products (admit it, you’re excited about Office 2013)

A partnership between RIM and Microsoft to meld the Windows platform onto RIM hardware would expand MS’s mobility presence, as well as draw more business users back to Blackberry.

A new Playbook could be made as a Surface tablet, which I will write about later in the month as I think it is poised to become the king of tablets.

So there you have it, RIM + Microsoft = the rebirth of mobile business domination.

Either that or Rim goes the pay of Palm, and that would just be sad.