Does RIM just not get the gadget market?
Research in Motion took another beating on the markets this morning, plunging 21 per cent after another disappointing earnings report. The company’s stock is now trading at less than half of what it was a year ago and about one fifth of what it was worth at its all-time high back in 2008. So, what’s killing the Waterloo-based company in the cellphone market? Really, its technology isn’t horribly worse than Apple’s or Google’s—and it’s certainly a long way from Nokia. One theory comes from an ex-employee: that RIM has relied on its business customers for far too long and can’t compete in a market driven by consumer gadget lust.
Business Insider has the story, courtesy of an unnamed source:
The problem is that they brim with hubris regarding their success in the corporate market and are culturally blind to the gaping holes in their armour regarding consumers. They honestly think they understand consumer product, business, mentality, marketing — but they really don’t…
Most of the design decisions at RIM are made by 50 something engineers, otherwise highly accomplished and credible in the field of engineering. But since they’ve lived most of their lives in the rural areas of Southern Ontario, and don’t have any real background or even social sensibility for culture, design and such issues, they’re woefully unqualified for the task of aesthetic judgement. The problem is not so much that they can’t create a user experience with ‘sex appeal’ — because they could hire the right people and improve, again, it’s that that they don’t recognize their own weaknesses in the area.
The contrast between that and, say, Apple’s notorious (and, yes, sometimes counterproductive) obsession with its sleek, sexy look probably doesn’t need to be spelled out here. Still, is that it? Sure, RIM is a long way from the technological dustbin—growth remains strong in the developing world, minus a little nastiness in India and the Middle East—but the days when BlackBerrys ruled the tech world are long gone. And it looks like they’re not coming back.