I would be surprised if you didn't know where those four "superheroes" came from. They're from a marketing stunt that RIM pulled: these superheroes represented people's goals and how a BlackBerry could help those people achieve them. As you can see, they're ugly as sin. They also don't have noses, which is probably why they can't smell the stink from the company they're trying to save.
I'm not saying that RIM's products are bad. What I am saying, though, is that its corporate policies and doings are horrible. When Thorsten Heins took the reins, one of his first announcements was that RIM was going to stay on the same path that it was already on when Lazaridis and Balsillie were at the helm!
Plenty of other journalists and bloggers have already given their recommendations on how to fix RIM, like new management and flashy products. But I believe part of the problem is that RIM is still RIM. How about a complete reinvention of the company and brand names that go with it?
Before we take a look at the wrongdoings of RIM's corporate offices, let me say that BlackBerry products aren't really the best devices in the world. There's certainly a group of features that keeps people on the platform, but honestly, the other stuff the competition offers with its products makes up for most of them. Unfortunately for RIM, the idea of some features being key with some people is a fact that, in RIM's mind, means BlackBerrys are still compelling products.
That actually seems to be a theme at RIM. It's like the company believes that if there's even just one thing that isn't broken, nothing else should be fixed or redone. For instance, people love BBM. But people also love things like iMessage or even the plethora of free texting/messaging apps on any other platform.
I won't argue that BBM is a great service, and that's because it is. But it really needs to be reinvented, much like the BlackBerry itself. Why can't RIM just overhaul the UI and make it appeal to a wider audience than just the enterprise sector? Many of my friends used to have BlackBerry Curves and Bolds and Pearls, but have moved on because there's so much more to be gained from any other platform. A few of them have work-issued BlackBerrys, but the sad truth is that most of them just take the SIMs out and throw them into their personal devices, anyway.
If there was some way to appeal to both audiences, RIM could gain traction once again. Unfortunately for the folks in Waterloo, it looks like Microsoft is going to beat them to the game. Windows Phone 8, like we learned earlier today, will include BitLocker encryption to help protect a user's information. Plus, Windows Phone is already a joy to use, so a lot of people would go for a Nokia handset before a BlackBerry one just for that fact alone.
RIM should really just take a look at what Microsoft's doing. Before Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's mobile operating system was incredibly similar to RIM's. Most devices had hard keyboards and were incredibly business-oriented. As most companies found out when the iPhone was announced, business people weren't the only people interested in smartphones. Microsoft, on one hand, figured this out; RIM, on the other, didn't.
An attractive new logo for both RIM itself and BlackBerry, as well as speedy devices that can do much more than just email will certainly help the company and its devices gain a spot in the top three smartphone vendors once again. But if Thorsten and his team can't realize that something isn't wrong, nothing will get better, and I'm afraid that we'll be down to just three main operating systems.
What would you like to see done to RIM? Do you think any of these suggestions could possibly help? And if not, what do you think could?