Five reasons the BlackBerry isn't doomed
With a new CEO and OS, there's hope Research in Motion could stage a comeback.
By Mark Evans
The technology world is a fickle beast. One minute, you’re king of the hill; the next you’re on the scrapheap. Consumers have an insatiable appetite for shiny and new, while products and service makers feed into this hunger by launching new versions on a regular basis.
In light of this here today, gone tomorrow reality, it would be easy to dismiss Research in Motion (RIMM) as irrelevant given how far the BlackBerry has tumbled in the past couple of years. Once the dominant smartphone player, the BlackBerry is scrambling to stick around amid intense competition from Apple (AAPL) and Samsung.
Perhaps the most important day in RIM’s history happened Tuesday when the company held its annual developers conference that provided a glimpse of its next-generation operating system, BB10. While the media coverage was mixed, it offered some reason for optimism that RIM will not go down without a fight.
With this in mind, there are five reasons why the BlackBerry isn’t doomed.
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1. BB10 is a huge step forward for the BlackBerry. After some embarrassing fits and starts, it looks pretty good that the new OS will, in fact, be launched later this year. This will provide the BlackBerry with a huge boost given it has been trying to compete against Apple and Google's (GOOG) Android with an outdated OS.
2. With a new CEO, Thorsten Heins, at the helm, RIM will benefit from a refreshed corporate culture. For years, RIM was ruled by co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. While they oversaw tremendous growth, their dominant management style also made it difficult to new and innovative ideas to emerge and flourish.
3. RIM will benefit from much better marketing, particularly if it hires a top-notch chief marketing officer. For too many years, RIM relied on its stature as the world’s leading smartphone. It meant marketing was not a corporate priority, which is one of the many reasons why Apple was able to gain so much traction quickly with the iPhone. In the tech world, perception is reality so RIM left itself vulnerable by not having a creative and progressive approach to marketing.
4. The launch of new BB10-powered devices will be a huge difference because many consumers have been less than enthused about RIM’s hardware line-up. It’s like looking at under-powered 2011 cars when you know the 2012s are around the corner. As well, BB10 has the potential to give the much-beleaguered PlayBook a shot in the arm, and, as important, let RIM move into new markets and establish partnerships with all smartphone makers.
5. Unlike many struggling high-tech companies, RIM has no debt and, for the time being, lots of cash. This gives it some time to get its act together without having to make desperate moves. It will let management place its bets that could be rewarded if the right pieces fall into place.
Don’t get me wrong, RIM has unfortunately found itself in a challenge and difficult situation. While many critics have already written RIM off, the patient is still breathing so it’s not out of the question it could come back to health.
What do you think? Is RIM cooked, or can it stage a comeback?
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