The demise of RIM has been analysed by many over the last few years. Everyone seems to have an opinion on where RIM went wrong. For someone who has a vested interest in a smartphone company, I pay close attention to these RIM articles. As we all know, history has a habit of repeating itself.
Hence, I found this article by James Cowan of the CanadianBusiness very enlightening. Cowan writes, “High-school students learn Shakespeare’s tragic heroes were each doomed by a fatal flaw—Hamlet by his indecision, Lear by his pride and so forth. It may seem too erudite, too beard-scratchingly self-satisfied, to cast Research In Motion’s business troubles as a Shakespearean tragedy. But the comparison is instructive on one point. RIM’s problems—its diminished market share, its tumbling stock price, its late products—all stem from a single flaw. RIM was felled by its executives’ arrogance. Arrogance informed all of their poor choices over the past five years; arrogance continues to drive their strategy today.”
“It was arrogant to dismiss Apple’s iPhone as a technically inferior product that no consumer would want. It was arrogant to assume that corporate customers would remain loyal, even as better smartphones swarmed the marketplace. It is now arrogant to think the long-promised, endlessly delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system will be so revolutionary that investors will forgive all of RIM’s past sins. Certainly the new features alluded to so far will be far too little, far too late.” Cowan writes.
He continued by stating, “In a recent publicity blitz, CEO Thorsten Heins made some token gestures of humility, acknowledging in an opinion piece published in The Globe and Mail newspaper that RIM “has missed on important trends in the smartphone industry.” But by the end of the piece, he was scolding pundits “who have never made the drive to Waterloo” for pontificating on “software they have not seen or devices they have not touched.” The message? Shame on those of you who doubt us. Lost was any acknowledgement that if RIM had stuck to its deadlines, we would have seen and touched the devices long ago.”
“Here is where the Shakespearean comparisons fall apart. Tragic heroes are doomed by their flaws, but there was nothing fated about RIM’s collapse. Some say Canada simply cannot support a global tech company. Some say Canadian startups must sell out to succeed. So let’s be clear: it didn’t have to come to this. RIM’s current state is the result of its management’s actions. If they had heeded the persistent warnings of trouble ahead, RIM might still be the world’s leading smartphone company.” Cowan reports.
To illustrate Cowan’s point, this is what a recent StrategyAnalytic survey revealed about the state of the US smartphone market:
This is not good news for RIM. I believe many company will suffer the same fate, unless innovation is at the heart of their business plan going further.