July 28, 2012 · 0 Comments
Research In Motion was the pioneer of the smartphone segment with its BlackBerry device—it’s now more like Palm, about to be forgotten. Over the past five years, RIM has experienced near continuous months of turmoil while Apple and Android continue to eat up the market it once owned.
While RIM weathered the storm initially, since the summer of 2008 it has been a company destructing before the eyes of the world. The company was once a gem of Canada, it now has lost even that market to Apple. What’s unique about the case is not that it lost to Apple and Google, but how it lost. (After all, many saw this coming.)
Late last year, amidst major executive changes, RIM made the case that better marketing was the key to its turnaround—not better products. So, we decided to look at RIM’s epic collapse through its own ads.
Research In Motion was founded by Mike Lazaridis (pictured) and Douglas Fregin in 1984 while they were both engineering students in Canada. RIM began with products for Mobitex’s networks. In 1996, it introduced the Inter@ctive Pager, the first messaging pager. A year later it was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
By 1999 RIM was listed on Nasdaq, but the bigger news was in the introduction of BlackBerry software and RIM 850, the first BlackBerry. It truly was the first fully-featured smartphone and led the category for a decade. By Q1 2008, RIM had 44.5% of the market according to IDC.
This wasn’t one of its ads, but you get the point:
RIM’s management said a lot of stupid things (and you can read all their quotes here).
First it dismissed the iPhone. “It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers … But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it,” said Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM. There were rumors that it actually didn’t think the iPhone would work.
Then it played to its user-base.
“Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that’s a real challenge. You cannot see what you type,” said Lazaridis.
And then there was delusion. Lazardis told reporters, “But I think what happened was the amount of marketing and the attention (Apple) generated in the market — the customers are now coming to the store and saying I didn’t know you could do all that with a phone. And when they get there they realize there’s a selection — there’s not just one device. And so what it’s actually done is increased our sales.”