Survey says: RIM’s core users are abandoning ship

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 Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platform has long ruled the mobile enterprise, but the end of its reign appears to be near. In a survey, 30 percent of current companies with 10,000 or more employees using BlackBerry devices intend to leave for another solution. On a widespread basis, such a trend will further erode RIM’s market share and momentum in an area where it’s been the leader for years.

The data comes from Enterprise Management Associates by way of InfoWorld, and it emphasizes a few recurring themes I’ve pointed out several times over the past two or more years. RIM hasn’t yet answered the challenge from competing mobile platforms such as Apple iOS and Google Android. It bought QNX in April, 2010 to meet that challenge, but so far, the purchase has only amounted to an incomplete tablet and promises of improved smartphones. RIM announced BBX for handsets this week, which is the “best of the BlackBerry platform and the best of the QNX platform.”

Right now, however, it’s just the “best announcement” RIM can make because the platform won’t be on phones until 2012. Although that’s just a few months away, it has taken RIM too long to transition its aging software platform to something more competitive. And the longer that effort takes, the more risk the company faces from business and individuals losing patience and moving on.

The company has seen its BlackBerry user base grow in terms of real numbers, but overall, its market share is declining for these reasons. Even a growing smartphone tide won’t lift all ships when some are yachts and others are rowboats. That tide is instead filling the enterprise with Android devices and iPhones because of the growing trend of BYOD, or bring your own device to work. Last month, a Forrester report noted this, saying half of surveyed IT shops are already supporting personal devices in some manner.

Adding to the problem are competing services such as the new iMessage for Apple’s iOS devices that resemble the BBM service but add text messaging capabilities. Make matters worse recently was a multi-continent outage that disrupted BlackBerry mail for several days; the company is offering $100 in free apps, but if fewer people want RIM handhelds, how does that help?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user, vortistic

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