Blackberry would do best to forget the year that 2011 was. Only if it could manage to re-write history and re-define new rules to come off its own inertia would that be made possible. For a technology giant that boasted of 'Corporate Communication' and total control of the business mobility, 2011 was a year full of hard facts and reckoning that would nimble Blackberry fans. Let us review the major points of interest that marked a turbulent year for Blackberry's owner -Research in Motion.
Erosion of market capitalization - For a start, we know that the parent company of Blackberry, Research in Motion is a publically listed and traded firm. And, the last few years have seen an erosion of RIM's market capitalization as if investors have decided to shun the product and the brand associated with RIM. How else could anyone explain a decline of RIM's share price from the levels of $150 to $15 as of December, 2011? This is a 90% decline in its share value and a complete decimation of investors' faith in the ability of the company to cut a new corner.
Degraded Performance and Extended Service Disruptions - The past year also saw service disruptions that were unheard of until then. Services in the European countries, Middle East and Asia were disrupted as RIM engineers tried to get its network to work with the major telco providers across these regions. The fact is that this specific disruption lasted 3 days, and there was almost a non-existent communication exchange involving the company. This pushed a lot of business users out of the Blackberry network in Europe as they embraced alternative platforms offered by iPhone and Android phones. No business user would sacrifice mobility and communication as it could impact his own business interests.
Lack of Innovation - While other mobile computing platforms were evolving in the midst of changed global scenario post Apple and Google's attempts to garner the mobile computing platform share, RIM showed a stark complacency that was visible in the fragile attempts it made to bring out new products that could match the functionality of Android and Apple phones. It almost appeared that RIM never considered IPhone and Android phones as a competitor to its business offering. And by the time it realized that it had missed the bus, it was really too late for hopes of any resurrection of the brand. Although the company took steps to bring out its own tablet with a set of applications that were designed to run on it, the efforts proved to be 'too little and too late' as the tablet offering failed to evoke a strong response and business demand. Everybody seemed to believe that Blackberry and RIM are on the way out.
Legal Hurdles Across the Globe - RIM has had to address multiple grievances related to its encryption standards and encryption algorithm in Asia, as more and more countries voiced concerns on the likely misuse of the Blackberry devices by anti-national elements. Countries such as India and Saudi Arabia came down heavily on the secrecy behind the RIM's algorithm and its reluctance to allow security agencies to peep through the Blackberry conversations further compounded the matter. All this caused a lot of negative sentiment in the way RIM handled the issues and caused a notional loss of investors' faith.
Would RIM be successful in doing something out of the blue to resurrect its brand? It looks likely that there could be a change in the way RIM runs Blackberry and the company would eventually try to come up with a mobile computing platform that could be specific to the needs to the global business user. That has been the forte of RIM for quite some time, and it does realize that it will be almost next to impossible for it to match the mass-appeal of an Android or IPhone device. RIM needs to realize that it has been good with business-specific offering and it would be easier for it to capture the lost audience rather than trying to do something extra-ordinary in the face of tougher competition on offer.
Mike Long is a communications expert and he works on latest tech gadgets and products such as handheld computers. Mike uses Micronet products to further his business communication.