The real reason RIM hasn’t yet competed with Apple


People were saying we can’t make powerful phones like Apple. Yes, we can, but we couldn’t believe consumers would put up with that kind of battery inefficiency and that kind of network inefficiency.

Just as I wouldn’t try to manage a business school, Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto, shouldn’t be explaining why Research In Motion(s rimm) hasn’t yet fared well against Apple(s aapl). The RIM board member offers up his viewpoints in an inteview with Canada’s The Globe and Mail. Clearly, inefficiencies in the iPhone’s battery and supporting networks have been “put up with” quite a bit: To the tune of more than 182 million iPhones sold through the end of 2011, if my math is correct.

With the iPhone’s average selling price well past $600, Martin may want to whip out a business calculator to do the figures on Apple’s revenues and profits from the handset. That’s what I’d do considering that 79 percent of RIM’s total revenues came from hardware sales in the final quarter of 2011. And let’s not even get started on the PlayBook vs iPad numbers….



I gave up on BB after buying their Storm 1 & 2.
Neither had the keyboard or apps the iPhone offered. BB just could not match Apples Technology

Scott Perry

With respect, Monitor would be embarassed by an alumnus who didn’t address the fundamental strategy issues that RIM faces


having been an early BB advocate, and knowing the top leadership at RIM, they heard even way back in 2007, what they needed to do. However, the top leadership never really engaged with the marketplace…their channel strategy enabled their second hand connection with real issues. Then when they had a chance to build an ecosystem and strengthen their value propositions to their core markets, they did so poorly, with sophmoric leadership and poor execution.
I for one, am very unimpressed with the new CEO, in his early pronouncements, he seems to read from the same playbook ascribing their difficulties to bad marketing and poor execution. While that is true, the strategy issues(where and how they compete) are much more important. I have great resepct for Monitor in the past…if htey were consulting to RIM or RIM’s board, they would refute much of what Roger Martin has said…..

Peter H Pottinger

Blackberrys suck, Ive never seen a worse device. Everyone I know who has a blackberry admits the devices suck, but for some god awful reason they refuse the get a smartphone. RIM is doomed not only because their past devices suck, but they are unwilling to forge ahead with a full fledged mobile os.

If these jokers really knew anything about security past asymmetric pgp encryption, they would have realize you can have both secure and functional if done properly.

Matt Moore

This is moderately rib-tickling in the light of Roger Martin’s book from 2009 called “The Design of Business” – which focused on the importance of innovation & design thinking. The book has a couple of nice things to say about Apple & Jobs but p.71-3 discuss how Blackberry is kicking Apple’s ass in the consumer space phone space. A humbling example for all would-be pundits.

I suspect that Martin’s close ties with certain firms (e.g. RIM, Steelcase, P&G, Herman Miller) limit his objectivity. Sometimes he seems more “business academic as cheerleader” rather than an analyst.

Joshua Lipton

The tone deaf understanding of RIM’s weaknesses (insurmountable) and failure to recognize their remaining strengths (multiple) continues to parade across the interwebs from their own mouths.

Oh Canada.

Fire marketing. Commoditize MDM and MAM across all platforms by making it free. Embrace the consumerization of IT by promoting a more mature model than BYOD, start with COPE (corporately owned, personally enabled) and change the conversation in the enterprise once again.

Bonus points for partnering with someone who gets hardware or just get it over with, let Microsoft acquire you and still do the above because we need more differentiation in vision and less homogenization.

Harry Minhas

I agree with the hardware point but over 75 million users worldwide can’t be ignored. BlackBerry 7 should have been released in 2010 instead of half baked playbook. Co-ceo’s should have left well before they did. Management were too bullish to accept the defeat. Worldwide outage didn’t help either. I still think RIM has a market if they play their cards right. One thing is sure RIM can’t compete with Android or even iOS in near future. But there is an option of licensing BB10.

John Michael Bantolino

Reblogged this on The BIT Box and commented:
I would like to believe that it’s just a matter of ‘positioning’ (brand strategy). Apple has positioned its iPhones so well in the consumer segment that consumers would die getting one. Now that Apple is entering a new segment by targeting the business users, Apple is expected to be successful in this segment as well. Bottom line is, there is no such thing as 100% efficient and effective. It’s how you ‘position’ your strengths that will determine success for the product.

My two cents then… Your valuable thoughts are very much welcome!


Positioning? This is why people hate marketing types, and MBAs in particular.


Do you understand yourself what you are saying? It is much more than positioning. I think you do not understand technology at all! Are you MBA?


What a clown. I thought that quote might be cherry-picked or somehow taken out of context. It’s actually quite tame relative to the rest of that incredibly smug, completely out of touch interview.

He thinks RIM could have beaten Android and iOS with marketing, that everyone who has criticized the management of this plummeting company is a unthinking moron.


RIM failed because competing hardware left their devices in the dust in terms of functionality. People would rather DO things inefficiently than be efficiently limited.

They failed by allowing multiple, multi-hour system outages between 2007 and 2009. All the vaunted, security of the BB doesn’t mean jack if it doesn’t work. How many BES admins would have been fired if those outages had been local? Who needs an efficient, secure brick?

They failed their attempts at catching up to advancing hardware (Storm, Playbook) by shipping each in a half-baked form.

RIM = failure.

Harry Minhas

RIM is going through transition and definitely had bad year. But next generation QNX OS (BB10) can still change things. IPhone has change the smartphone industry but RIM’s USP secure email & BBM are still best communication tool in the market. On the other hand iPhone 4S is good but lacks innovation (not disagreeing that Apple had best Q4 sales ever). BlackBerry London feels more newer than any iOS or Android device.


I’m sorry, but this is lazy reporting. Everyone knows that RIM is gasping for air, especially PR-wise, and that Apple has sold a bazillion iThings and makes more money than God. Instead of trotting out sales numbers, it might be helpful or interesting to at least objectively examine his claims. I’m not a RIM fan at all, but this is a pretty weak hit piece.

Kevin C. Tofel

Eric, you make it sound like I forced the RIM board member to say what he said. It’s just another example with how out of touch RIM as a company is. I don’t particularly see a need to examine his claims when the market has already done so.

Mo Kilma

This post is good it is your commenting that is lazy. If you can’t search the intertubes to read about RIMM’s problems without Kevin having to rehash them then you have bigger problems than you think.


Very nice, short piece.

Power and battery life are red herrings, though. RIM was focused on secure communications, not broad access to the world’s data, and that focus led them to a series of choices (keyboard navigation, stunted browser, minimal apps support) that eventually doomed the company.

You allude to the revenue contribution of an apps marketplace. This alone dooms RIM at this point. Without Microsoft’s deep pockets they won’t survive in a world where OS margins have gone negative.


Regardless of the veracity of the battery life comment, has RIM been sleeping for the last 3-4 years? If they really thought iPhone battery life was such a pain in the neck, why didn’t they go to town with it just after the launch?

That said, smart phones are getting less mobile than good old feature phones, because they are wired down to a power plug or a PC for possibly an hour a day….Not that I expect RIM to come with a cool new innovation here…

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