Musthafa Ebadi
Five Point Solution For Research In Motion's Struggles
by Musthafa Ebadi on August 25th, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Follow up to my blog post yesterday I am detailing some of the changes that Research In Motion (RIM) should introduce right away in order to get back in the game. As I had stated earlier they are not out of it by a whole lot and few simple but necessary changes in strategy will get them back to where they were before – industry leaders.

Although there have been multiple suggestions of dividing the company into two separate entities, or ditching the co-CEO model that has made RIM successful all these years, or a major overhaul of the senior management team at RIM all of which has its pro and cons I am not going to take that route. I will rather propose some strategic changes that will make Blackberry better quicker.

Improve the Consumer Experience: At the end of the day it’s all about the consumer. As mentioned in my last article with the ease of access to Data Plans, the Bring-Your-Own-Device programs, and fierce competition it’s highly critical for RIM to put a lot of focus on users and their experience. The more beautiful, easy to use, and user centric Blackberrys become the more people would want to have them. It will not hurt to take a page out of Apple's operation. Hey what’s wrong with doing something that your competition is doing as long as its legally and ethically allowed?

Developers and Development: RIM should really look outside organization - perhaps in their competitor world - to find some innovative, creative, and user centric developers to redesign their products. Taking a page out of Google will help them immensely. After numerous failed attempts to make it big in Social Media, Google went and hired Andy Hertzfeld from Apple who had worked on the Macintosh team, and the Google+ interface is everything that people are looking for - user friendly, easy to understand, click and drag, and it looks cool.

Also allow and reward the average developers to develop "Cool" Blackberry applications which will ultimately help attract more users.

Super-Marketing: This step is contingent upon the above two steps. If RIM can execute on the above two they should really get into some guerrilla marketing and focus on user "Experience" and the "Cool" factor. As stated in my previous blog RIM's marketing efforts are largely focused on its technical superiority, security, and core building blocks that is very complicated for an average consumer. Those who care about the aforementioned features are not choosing another device over Blackberry - it’s the average consumer that is not attracted to it, so shouldn’t RIM's marketing target that segment of population?

Lower Expectations: We have seen this tactic used over and over whether in business, sports, politics, or even personal level. As of late RIM has been really a victim of over promising and under-delivering. For example, they will announce a product and prematurely say they will sell 1000 units on day one. After the release even if they sell 800 of these units they are still lagging their projections by 20%. This in turn generates negative press, which not only makes an average consumer hesitant to buy this new product but also allows every Tom, Dick, & Harry to predict an end of RIM.

If was the head of PR department in RIM I would contain the public commentary around selling 600 of these devices and when they sell 800 of them not only they have over achieved the targets by 30%+ but it also will make an average consumer associate itself with a “successful” product.

I understand that to predict 600 units instead of 1000 will not sit well with the shareholders but at this point I rather disappoint them now and put more money in their pocket later, than to excite them now but hurt their pockets later.

Focus on Innovation: Foster a culture of innovation and reward people who think outside the box. Create a team whose sole job is to find the next major shift in technology and bring it to market. Make their sole purpose to come up with cool products that each consumer would want and make it a personal mission for them to bring their creativity juices to work on a daily basis. If anyone has studied Google you know that majority of the solutions that Google launched was actually a brainchild of one of their employees. Why can’t RIM do the same?

You could argue that these are very simple and basic fixes that I am proposing and rest assured that as a big supporter of RIM, someone who has studied their business, and operations for years these are the basic but necessary fixes that will make RIM once again a market leader in Smart Phone industry. As a pioneer in this industry for nearly 20 years they have a lot of great things in place and by tweaking just few steps in their strategy they will get back to glory days once again.

There are no doubts that RIM has been struggling when it comes to the above five points for years now - simply due to their attention and focus on other things. And in the last 2 - 4 years Apple, Google, and Nokia have put a lot of efforts in some or all of the above points. There is also no doubt that in the last 2 – 4 years RIM is falling behind while Apple, Google, & Nokia are charging ahead full steam. So what is causing this shift? What is that Apple, Google, and Nokia are doing that RIM is not? You might just have got the answer now.

Thanks for Reading!

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