Opinion: The Decline, But Not Fall Of Research In Motion [St. Joseph News-Press (MO)]
(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) (CNN) -- After disastrous Q4 earnings, Research In Motion has an even greater battle on its hands if it is to win back the hearts and minds of the smartphone buying public. Earnings are down, sales are down, and now they are battling rumors that they are pulling out of the consumer market altogether.
The company's biggest challenge in the coming months is to prove to business and consumers alike that they have the ability to match the Android, Apple, and even the Microsoft juggernauts that are heading off into the distance with their customers.
Thirteen years ago, when I spotted my first BlackBerry in Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, the American businessman I spotted quickly drew a crowd. At the time we were all amazed and impressed by his ability to check and send emails on the go from a device that fitted in his pocket.
Today however and virtually every phone not only has email, but also apps, the internet and plenty in between.
RIM's biggest problem is that its key selling point is no longer the key point in the battle for the best handset. Email is a given, and while secure email appeals to some, for the majority of the mass buying smartphone upgrading marketplace that drives the mobile phone industry, the numbers show us that's not what they want.
That's left RIM with a problem, a problem that is forcing them to re-focus and button down on what it offers.
It can't forget its business roots, that high-flying business traveler in those airports around the world, and for many companies RIM is still the best choice.
The CTO that decides what your company phone is, doesn't care whether you'll want to play Angry Birds on it -- he cares that the emails you send are secure and the phone lasts long enough so your team members can reach you if you've left the office.
At the other end of RIM's marketplace is the consumer youth market. Parents are happy to go BlackBerry because they are cheap to run, offer BBM to their kids for talking to their other friends, and don't cost a fortune to buy.
And therein lies the problem, the latest earnings seem to show that people no longer buy BlackBerries, but have them bought for them by work, by parents, by anyone other than yourself.
The challenge is for RIM to show that it is still relevant, that it hasn't given up the fight, and that it does still have the ammunition to fight back.
Patrick Spence, the company's managing director of global sales and marketing has said that the rumors of RIM pulling out of the consumer market are wholly inaccurate and that the company is merely re-focusing their efforts on its core strengths. For RIM that means its enterprise customer base is now once again a key focus. It's got to make sure the bits of the company that work, work smoothly, and bring in the supplies to support the rest of the business for the fight ahead.
If RIM loses that core business to Apple, or Microsoft, or Google, or someone else -- who are all nipping at RIMs heals for the business sector -- then there will only be one fruit named company left to talk about, and that would be a terrible shame.
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