Francisco Kattan

Insights on the Mobile Ecosystem

Posts Tagged ‘Tablets

Is RIM in the Smartphone Business? Or the Messaging Business? Time to Decide

When you buy a BlackBerry, why do you do it?  Because you want to run many apps?  Or because of RIM’s leading messaging applications and services?

In the era before the iPhone (aka “Bi“), this question did not matter as there were no viable alternatives.  In fact, with hindsight, the notion of a smartphone to run many apps did not exist for most consumers.    You bought a BlackBerry primarily for messaging and phone calls (maybe a couple extra apps, at best).   However, in this new “Ai” era (after the iPhone), the situation is dramatically different.  RIM has been incapable of defending its position as a smartphone platform against new entrants Apple and Google.   And the situation can only get more difficult for RIM with the resurgence of Web OS under HP and of Windows Phone thanks to the recent Nokia deal.  If RIM can’t compete in a 3 horse race, can it survive a 5 platform war?

By contrast, RIM has been very successful with its messaging and collaboration applications.  RIM is the clear leader in Enterprise email, with others playing catch up.  And in case you have not been paying attention, RIM has been able to build a very large base of consumer messaging users with its flagship BBM application especially in international markets.   In fact, RIM’s troubles in North America are only being masked by its unprecedented growth of consumer messaging users internationally (for more on this, check out Mike Mace’s Tale of Two BlackBerries).

Should RIM continue to try to compete as a platform play? Or would RIM shareholders be better off if RIM focused on building its messaging franchise across more platforms?

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Written by Francisco Kattan

March 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm