RIM isn’t exactly in the best form today, having risen and fallen as the preferred smartphone platform in the enterprise market. To date, BlackBerry’s market share has dwindled, although the platform remains in third place after Android and iOS. In the aim of keeping up with the times, RIM had actually considered making the switch to Android.

In an interview with The Telegraph, RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins admitted that the Canadian company could not keep up with Apple and Samsung, given their market dominance in the smartphone and tablet business. He pointed out that RIM did not have “the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year.”

As such, the company seriously considered switching to another platform altogether, which could have potentially helped boost market share, given the popularity of Android among consumers. But RIM “took the conscious decision not to go Android and stick to developing BlackBerry 10.” The reason: differentiation.

Heins said manufacturers have very little ability to differentiate. Even if manufacturers could come out with dozens of models a year, they tend to lose focus and handset releases get lost in the sea of Android phones. However, RIM’s optimism lies in its ability to serve the segment that it considers the most important: the enterprise market.

RIM believes that the BlackBerry platform is not about playing games and loading multimedia. “[I]f you stay true to that purpose you have to build on that basis,” Heins stressed. As such, RIM wants to continue building products for folks who have little time to consume and enjoy content, but rather need to get things done.

Still, Heins acknowledged that RIM could not catch up to the likes of Apple and Samsung on its own. As such, it is considering licensing out the upcoming Blackberry 10 platform to third-party manufacturers. RIM will need a company that can produce BlackBerry smartphones and tablets “at a way better cost proposition,” and the company is currently investigating the potential implications if they will let other manufacturers compete in the smartphone business with BB10 as their platform.

Would Android have helped RIM improve their market situation? It was already a big thing when the BlackBerry Playbook was announced to have support for Android apps. True enough Android has a more comprehensive application ecosystem than BlackBerry. And let’s face it, BlackBerry’s market share in the U.S. is on a downward trend. But still, BlackBerry is going strong in some markets like the Asia Pacific region, where it is a strong platform in both enterprise and consumer markets.

Did RIM make the right decision in sticking to their guns? Or could they have had an advantage if they tried powering BlackBerry smartphones with Android and instead ported popular features – like the Blackberry Messaging service – to the platform?

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.
  • Blackberry definitely had an appeal. My GF and I both miss our Blackberrys, but they are so far outdated now that I can’t imagine being happy with one. Quality was excellent. They need to get their thumbs out of their asses and roll out something high quality. The business world is not going to keep them on top anymore. More and more companies are using Apple for business now. So yes, the device can be both a toy and a business tool. Hell, my acupuncturist checks BP with an iphone.

  • Peterson Silva

    “RIM wants to continue building products for folks who have little time
    to consume and enjoy content, but rather need to get things done.”

    They don’t get it: people might want to do both. With Android you can get things done. So BB is not winning on any front.

    • jonny

      So true, people do not to be carrying around two phones. They want one phone that has powerful business usage like the blackberry combined with the ability to consume social data.

      Get this right and it will a step in the right direction.

  • cghxcg

    You differentiate by making good phones that people want

  • Gerry George

    Question RIM has to ask themselves is: what is the value proposition of a BB phone? It is BBM & push e-mail, period!!! Take those two services away, and you don’t even have a good phone.

    Therefore, rather than trying to compete with the other “good” phone platforms out there, who are not standing stll, but releasing a dizzying range of new phones each couple of months, RIM should consider becoming a service company, and license BBM & push e-mail to those other platforms (IOS, Android). This will give them continued viability without having to worry about producing hardware to compete with the other very good guys.

    Becasue, lets face it, even the business users want a phone which is vesatile and can do more than just make calls, surf the web and send/receive messages. This would also allow them to carry only a single device which can then do it all – corporate communications plus private entertainment, messaging & utility device as opposed to their corporate phone for business communications and also a personal phone (Android/IOS/WinPhone8) for the more fun aspects.