Originally Posted by ArgonNJ
The consumer market is where the money is. Businesses keep their equipment longer, while the consumer is always going for the latest and greatest. Consumers are also the ones buying the apps, which RIM gets a cut. To say that RIM shouldn't change because it ain't broke is what killed Palm. They went from #1 to just about dead last in the market they created. The smart phone segment is exploding in the consumer arena. To limit and primarily cater to just business is just plain stupid.
I don't know if I'd necessarily agree with all of that. You, the consumer, buys one phone at a time, maybe three or four if you've got a family. A corporation the size of IBM on the other hand, might buy thousands. Even a smaller company, like the one a friend of mine was IT Director for, purchased several hundred phones at a time. Consumers also tend to spend less per phone than businesses do. The whole smartphone phenomenon grew thanks to business. Your Aunt Ethel isn't buying a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device to store her Word documents on! She isn't buying it to access her Exchange server either.
Most consumers keep their phones at least for the duration of their current contract, and in the US, that generally amounts to two years. Many large businesses do a tech refresh every three years. Don't judge the market by what we see on forums like this. I see many folks out there using cell phones that have external antennas (other than iDens) which tells me that there's a whole segment of the buying public that doesn't just jump for the latest and greatest.
Most of the "phone-hopping" happens amongst the 18-30 year old age group, but that is only a portion of the market. It is this group of consumers that spends the lion's share on applications as well. The largest majority of cell phone users don't have anything on their phones that didn't come with the phone, although this is beginning to change as cellular internet access picks up. Even so, millions of people still don't access the internet via there phones, or even use SMS.
If you were to check with RIM, you'd find that although lucrative, their applications market is small potatos compared with their hardware market. The only place where this might be different is with Apple, and although they currently enjoy being the largest selling single phone in the US, that is still small when compared to the world's total phone sales.
I do agree that RIM must change, which they appear to be doing with phones like the Storm and Bold. What killed Palm was that they failed to modernize their operating system to adapt to changes in the use of their devices. I still have an old Kyocera 7135 laying around here, and when I look at it compared with my Curve, it more resembles a child's toy to me. It's interface is like the Apple II of smartphones!
When you think about it, Windows Mobile, has merely evolved since its conception as Windows CE, back in 1996. I also have an old Phillips PDA running CE 2, and it is not all that drastically different an interface than what I boot to on my recently retired HTC PPC6800. In fact, I came to owning a BlackBerry Curve because I was bored with that aging interface, and the Touch Pro was promising to be more of the same. Microsoft would be wise to consider adapting its Zune platform for cellular phone use.
In our current economic situtation, I don't see the consumer market as being the prime one to go after. Of course, if things change...
Keep your eyes on Android!