With BlackBerry 10, RIM Is Fighting the Wrong War
At all the meetings, panels and keynotes I’ve attended so far, it’s been clear the siren call of the consumer market still commands a large portion of RIM’s attention.
The hypothetical situation Heins gave was when someone — specifically a family member — closes their eyes during a shot. Sounds pretty consumer to me.
You can hardly blame RIM for these continued consumer overtures. After all, companies its size don’t turn on a dime. BlackBerry 10 has been in the works for almost three years, and Heins has only been CEO for a couple of months. And many mobile features have crossover appeal between business customers and the consumer on the street.
However, the downside to operating with consumer-focused strategies means RIM inevitably plays the role of underdog. Just look at what it’s doing on the developer front: RIM is showering developers with love here at BlackBerry World, doing its best to elevate its software tools by giving app designers access to core device functions they might not get on, say, iOS.
They also make it super simple to create apps, throwing lots of weight behind the platform-agnostic standard ofHTML5.
But wait, there’s more! At Tuesday’s BlackBerry 10 Jam developer keynote, RIM said it would guarantee that anyone who makes an app for BlackBerry 10 (and it’s approved) would make $10,000 minimum.
If the app falls short of making that much, RIM will write a check for the difference.
This why it’s so clear RIM is still fighting the war of consumer platforms with Apple and Google. Writing $10,000 checks to developers is one way to boost its relatively miniscule App World selection so it can compete with the big boys.
But there’s no way they’re turning their back on their sugar daddies. Apple and Google’s stores are where the big money is — enough potential cash to dwarf that $10,000 guarantee.
That’s why it’s perplexing to hear RIM backtrack on the enterprise angle. Being the mobile choice for business is the BlackBerry brand’s clear differentiator, but it appears to be taking a lot of its enterprise relationships for granted.
It shouldn’t, for many reasons — one being Windows Phone.
While RIM has been focusing on fighting Apple and Google, Micorosoft has been making headlines with its Windows Phone hardware, such as the Nokia Lumia 900. Around the same time BlackBerry 10 launches this fall, so will Windows 8, along with (presumably) Windows Phone 8.
If Microsoft follows its present course, Windows 8 will finally unify Windows as a platform, with all devices — PCs, tablets and phones — running the same software. And that’s going to present a huge opportunity for Windows Phone as a go-to mobile platform for business.
After all, if you’re already using Microsoft products on the PC side of your workflow, why wouldn’t you integrate them in mobile as well?
That strategy take a while to get going, since Microsoft still hasn’t put all the pieces in place. Once it does, businesses tend to upgrade to the next version of Windows at a snail’s pace. Still, it represents a long-term challenge for RIM on the business side, one that Microsoft has been readying for years.
That’s the war RIM needs to start prepping for — not just with Microsoft, but with Apple and Google encroaching on its territory via the “consumerization of IT” phenomenon. RIM still has a shot with BlackBerry 10, but it needs to stop playing by others’ rules (such as the app count of your store).
It also needs this reminder: trying to compete for every single mobile customer is exactly what got the company into trouble in the first place.
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