Challenges for BlackBerry as users embrace its rivals
Posted Monday, October 22 2012 at 19:00
- As users switch to iPhones and Android phones, the trouble for RIM is a shrinking market share
- The three-month period ending September saw RIM post a net loss of $235 million
- Frankly speaking, there is a clear disconnect in innovation and strategic marketing at RIM
Way back in 1999, Research in Motion (RIM) revolutionised the mobile industry with BlackBerry products and services. In the corporate world, the smartphone is well known for its business-friendly messaging features, security, and reliability.
Over the years, the BlackBerry maker has experienced an exponential rise in adoption of its products.
This was clear before the company succumbed to the ripple effects of black days in its messaging service and challenges of stiff competition.
The BlackBerry subscriber base stands at 80 million globally. A substantial number of these people are loyal to older products from RIM. The challenge lies ahead in future products and how the company will adjust to trends in the smart world.
Currently, users are being lured by alternative gadgets. In the mid-range class of phones, the brand is battling with thousands of Android phones.
In the high-end category, BlackBerry faces competition from Samsung, Apple’s iPhones, Nokia, and HTC.
Firms are allowing their staff to opt for their own desired brands unlike the tradition that saw BlackBerry dominate enterprise employee acquisitions.
Shrinking market share
As users switch to iPhones and Android phones, the trouble for RIM is a shrinking market share. In the recent quarterly results, the company sold 7.4 million BlackBerry smart-phones and 130,000 PlayBook tablets. The three-month period ending September saw it post a net loss of $235 million.
By selling a paltry number of tablets, the BlackBerry company seems to fall short of expectations from users. Apple and Samsung tablet sales are in millions of pieces monthly and this portrays how distant RIM is in the slate race. Besides, there is an un-avoidable competition from tablets from other device makers, especially from Asian countries.
One notable feature on BlackBerry phones that makes the gadget unique is messaging. The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is quite synonymous with most BlackBerry users. In the smartphone world, the challenge for BBM lies in free-text messaging Apps.
WhatsApp was one the first alternatives to the messaging service offered by BlackBerry. It works perfectly on all platforms hence it’s readily available on Android, IOS, windows phones and Nokia. The App has push notifications with free text, images and audio messages.
There are several other free-text Apps that are a threat to the BlackBerry messaging service. Besides, Apples iMessage is more similar to the popular BlackBerry Messenger service. The iMessage service is a free text and multimedia service that only works between IOS devices like iPhones and iPads.
Frankly speaking, there is a clear disconnect in innovation and strategic marketing at RIM. The BlackBerry maker would retain the brand in a better position if innovative products become part of the production lines. The smartphone market is quite dynamic and any misses can easily bring down a brand.
At a time when consumers were yearning for touch screens and superior gadgets, the makers of BlackBerry missed the addition of gadgets with diverse user interfaces to the trademark physical keyboard phones.
There is also the issue of software capabilities which is being exploited by rivals to entice phone users. RIM is now deliberating on a new operating system, BlackBerry 10 OS, which will yield improved user experience.
In the smartphone race, RIM is one company that is struggling to unleash her innovations. The delays on the production line and time lapses in the R&D departments have negative impacts on growth of the BlackBerry brand.
While names like Nokia are heavily marketing their new innovations, RIM is facing challenges in unveiling its products from the labs.