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Mark Rejhon 06-02-2005 03:41 PM

Mark Rejhon's Top 7 Most Important BlackBerry Requests for RIM's Growth Success
 
Quote:

Note: This is an old post.
This article was written June 2005

Mark Rejhon's Top 7 Most Important BlackBerry Requests for RIM's Growth Success
Written June 2005

Blockbuster Growth: Research In Motion is in a bull run. The first million BlackBerry subscribers took many years for RIM to achieve, the second million took under 10 months, and the third million took under 6 months. The price of RIM stock is enjoying the rare dotcom-style hypervaluation levels. BlackBerries are increasingly commonly found in airports, government buildings, and throughout the business districts of downtown area. RIM recently cleared a few skeletons from the closet, including settling with NTP, Inc. at approximately a half-million dollars. This removed a threat of a network shutdown in the United States. There are still many countries in the world that BlackBerry will still sell like hotcakes.

The Storm Clouds: RIM cannot stay complacent. PalmOne has the TREO which is starting to sell like hotcakes. The 800 pound rich gorilla, Microsoft is ready to dip into its war chhest and add better "push email" capabilities to Exchange and ActiveSync. Competitors such as Good Technology is making inroads. BlackBerries are now finally reaching market saturation in certain industries. Some people are also far more interested in getting a TREO than a BlackBerry.

Countermeasures: RIM is already successfully executing certain measures, such as expanding to new carriers in new countries. RIM is going "beyond email", and last year RIM changed the corporate logo to remove the outdated email logo. RIM is branching into new markets by expanding the BlackBerry feature set. However, RIM cannot stay too complacent and there are hidden mousetraps and obstacles. Here are some measures that RIM can take to ensure that the 10 millionth subscriber is successfully reached.
  1. Improved Marketing
    RIM is already doing an excellent job marketing to certain sectors and industries. RIM had an excellent prescence at a recent trade show, Wireless Enterprise Synopsium (WES). Everybody seem to like BlackBerry and talk about BlackBerry. However, look carefully. Detractors are everywhere. That company next door may hate BlackBerry. And the General Public thinks BlackBerries are still monochrome email devices. Boring devices that can only do email. Yawn! Yet another company doesn't even know that BlackBerry now finally has several different brands of wireless administration software, and decide to go for a PocketPC deployment instead. Guess what? RIM marketing is not as good as many people may think. Here are example:
    - KPMG employees decided on TREO instead of BlackBerry when given choice - forbes.com Article
    - Lack of knowledge of BlackBerry capabilites, such as those found in Mark's BlackBerry FAQ
    - Outdated black-and-white stock photographs of BlackBerries in articles
    - Many phone stores are pushing TREO 650's more than they are pushing BlackBerry. Not even given consumers an equal choice.
  2. Improved Word-Of-Mouth
    This is very closely related to the above marketing bullet, but this is a distinct item because this is really peer-to-peer marketing rather than direct-from-corporation marketing. That computer geek using a competing handheld often does not even know that BlackBerry recently finally already does most of the things that their handheld can do. For example, BlackBerry as a modem for laptop, or using collaboration software or CRM software which is now possible on BlackBerry. There are many myths. No software available for BlackBerry. Poor quality screens. No TCP/IP stack. No chat capabilities. No CRM/remote admin/word processing capabilities. All of these are now myths. More information can be found in "BlackBerry Myths Busted: The Modern 2005-era BlackBerry". It is extremely important that RIM makes sure that these capabilities are known, because it is often the computer geeks that sometimes influence a company to buy BlackBerries. Even the mere prescence of a non-critical feature (ringtone, chat, etc) can make one individual happy enough to recommend the BlackBerry to 100 other people even if they're not interested in frivolous features. RIM has to toe a very fine line between keeping BlackBerry stable and adding unnecessary features, and RIM has made some important progress recently, but unfortunately not enough progress is being made because many non-BlackBerry-users still think BlackBerries are boring monochrome email-only devices. This is a huge barrier for RIM to overcome. Word of mouth must be improved among non-BlackBerry users, in order for RIM to successfully continue to grow beyond 10 million subscribers. At the same time, RIM cannot alienate their existing user base with features that potentially hurt the security of BlackBerries.
  3. Become More Consumer-Friendly
    During 2004 and early 2005, RIM finally made some important steps to become more consumer friendly. Current BlackBerries are now capable of chatting and videogames that sometimes have graphics as good as any other cellphone videogames. Photo viewing are now a standard feature of a modern 2005-era BlackBerry, and you can finally do ringtones, screensavers. Corporations believe that these are unnecessary features, but about 50% of the BlackBerry market are individual consumers (prosumers). The BlackBerryForums.com website contain many excellent example of the existence of individual users. However, BlackBerry has a lot of rather severe limitations that still scare away many individual consumers. One example is the lack of MP3 playback, lack of built-in cameras, lack of voice recorder, and lack of memory card slot. RIM even said that there will never be a BlackBerry with a camera. Unfortunately, RIM is caught between a rock and a hard place because governments and organizations really hate these features, as many of these features interfere with the security of BlackBerry. Camera phones are banned from many organizations. Voice recorders are banned because of the "spy" risk. Memory cards are banned for the potential espionage leaks caused by stealing information off a BlackBerry or inserting an unauthorized memory card into a BlackBerry. MP3 playback is frowned on as a distraction, and the lack of memory and performance in a BlackBerry is an added limitation. RIM can mitigate these problems by permitting limited music playback-only, and video playback-only capabilities. These capabilities are rumored in future BlackBerries, since they do not represent much of a security issue, and these features can be disabled by a system administrator for business users, while keeping consumers and prosumers happy. RIM should expend every ounce of effort to make sure that non-security-sensitive features are indeed made possible in future models of BlackBerries. RIM can provide countermeasures to keep businesses happy by providing an option for system administrators to disable an undesired BlackBerry feature. It is better to offer a frivolous marketing feature (i.e. MP3) as a bullet point and advertise the system administrator ability to force-disable the feature, than to leave the feature out completely. RIM can afford to gradually add new features to BlackBerry, as long as it does not compromise security and stability, and this should be encouraged in conjunction with all other bullet points.
  4. Create a Consumer Division
    Unfortunately, enabling features such as a TCP/IP stack and modem tethering for laptops, is a big minefield for RIM. RIM can't even think of adding cameras to BlackBerries. RIM can't add a memory card slot. RIM has their hands tied trying to keep governments/businesses happy and consumers happy. To grow beyond 10 million BlackBerry subscribers, RIM must spin off a consumer division. If RIM wants to become "The Next Nokia", RIM must have a separate consumer division would have cameras, memory cards, MP3, video, and everything else. A new brand name can be invented, such as "BerryMedia" or another name. This could even be a new company name that licenses the BlackBerry operating system and BlackBerry technology, such as PalmOne versus PalmSource. That way, governments can say "BlackBerries devices are allowed, but no BerryMedia phones.". This spin-off may not be necessary yet, but this will eventually become necessary once worldwide market saturation is achieved, and it finally becomes necessary to add cameras and memory card slots to a BlackBerry. This is only possible under a separate entity (whether it be company, subsidary, brand name, division, etc) so that the main BlackBerry models can remain 100% secure and fully protected, without tarnishing the BlackBerry name. BlackBerry devices are among the most well-designed in terms of ruggedization that doesn't look like military surplus (see BlackBerry survives 9 foot drop to concrete & other amazing facts), and experienced users say BlackBerry devices arguably have the best thumb keyboards - especially on model 7250, 7520 and 7290. If RIM device engineers can apply their knowledge to consumer-phones, and still make them sexy looking, they can gain an excellent reputation quickly and possibly even become the Next Nokia. Yes, RIM licenses BlackBerry Connect, but this is not effective because it does not as authentically reproduce the addictive BlackBerry experience. In fact, other third party mail software was found to actually be much more pleasant to use than BlackBerry Connect solutions, in many tester's experiences -- myself included. In order to reproduce the true "Crackberry" experience in a phone with a camera and memory card slot, RIM must eventually manufacture these devices themselves through this separate division. It is necessary to grow beyond the "security cage" to go beyond market saturation, while simultaneously keeping the governments and businesses happy. There are creative solutions that makes this possible.
  5. Quicker Hardware Innovation
    Many people "in the know" have heard about and posted about numerous rumors. Unfortunately, these vaporware rumors are still vaporware. Where is the EDGE BlackBerry? What about modem-for-laptop capabilities for Verizon 7250? What about video playback capabilities? What about Bluetooth keyboards, Bluetooth GPS, and Bluetooth tethering? What about music playback capabilities? All these are rumors that persist, but never come to fruitition. This is partially understandable, because RIM is fully concentrating on businesses, and prioritizing on marketing important features such as wireless adminsitration and wireless CRM. However, in order to avoid market saturation, you need to keep those IT geeks happy. What about that Electronics Arts employee that uses a Treo 650, or the celebrity that uses a Hiptop, or the PocketPC-using outfit across town? All of these are great devices in specific ways for the specific areas that BlackBerry cannot do well. BlackBerry is catching up in many areas. Excellent progress have been made with the recent Bluetooth-based models. However, RIM needs to make sure that new BlackBerry hardware is released quickly to keep advanced users happy. This means faster performance, better screens, higher resolutions, more memory, more choices in design, higher speed wireless data, more preinstalled software for consumer-marketed BlackBerries, and yes, better marketing. Even now, the best GSM model, BlackBerry model 7290 is starting to become deep-discounted at $99 or less at many phone stores, while the TREO 650 is still priced at well over $300-$400. This higher price falsely makes consumers think that the TREO 650 is vastly better in 100% of all possible ways than the BlackBerry, just because they see the higher price. It's better to make sure phone stores display both a cheap BlackBerry ($99) and an expensive BlackBerry ($499), so high-end models must be introduced to market more quickly than RIM currently has. Otherwise, consumers sometimes make the false impression that RIM are cheap devices that only do email, since the phone store doesn't always market the fact that BlackBerries have already grown beyond email. This factor also influences marketing and word-of-mouth, as a misinformed consumer is less likely to cause his small business to decide to deploy 25 or 50 BlackBerries next quarter. Multiply that by many small businesses, combine the other factors listed in the above bullets previously listed, and this becomes a significant portion of a potential BlackBerry market.
  6. More Organized Software Catalogs
    BlackBerry went through a thermonuclear explosion of software during year 2004 and early 2005. This explosion is continuing. There is finally now over 2,000 different software programs that are compatible with BlackBerry, when you include the fact that Java midlets originally made for other cellphones (i.e. Nokia, Motorola) also work on BlackBerries. Over 1,000 native applications now finally exist for BlackBerry. At the beginning of 2004, there were only 2 chat software applications. Now there are over 30 chat applications as of June 2005 (See a small subset listed here) There are even dictionaries, word processors, multiple brands of spreadsheets, several text editors, many remote administration software programs, CRM software, eBook readers, photo slideshow viewers, and dozens of new software categories that never existed for BlackBerry until last year. Handango reported a massive increase in BlackBerry software purchases in the last two quarters, with a combined 20-fold growth in two consecutive quarters! (1300%+ followed by 60%+ increase in two consecutive quarters). Unfortunately, Handango lists less than one-quarter of the available BlackBerry software, and new BlackBerry software programs are coming out at a rate faster than the software catalogs can list them. Even websites such as RIMROAD.com are woefully incomplete and outdated, even listing old BlackBerry software that are extremely old. A case in point is that the most popular BlackBerry software program at RIMROAD, is RIM Mario. Guess what? This is a videogame that doesn't work on modern BlackBerries anymore - this videogame was designed for old Mobitex models. As a result, software catalogs such as RIMROAD are becoming increasingly inaccurate representations of today's BlackBerry software explosion. Outdated software is still mixed with newer software. Even Handango is still scrambling. Other online software catalogs are excessively underutilized. RIM must act quickly to solve this problem by helping the most popular software catalogs modernize properly. This may include donating staff or sponsorship/funds to help accelerate the modernization of volunteer-driven software catalogs that are still popular mainstays of hunting down RIM software. Otherwise, the Joe Q Public can't find that brand of a dictionary. Even today, business coworkers are still saying "there are no scientific or financial calculators for BlackBerry" -- but there are over 5 brands that now exist! What about that person who inquires about a medical program for hospitals in a specific modern "doctor-blackberry-pagers-allowed" hospital? What about that financial analyst who's trying to look for a realtime quote program for BlackBerry? People don't even know about software such as PocketDay, when they're looking for an amazing PIM that's similiar to AgendaToday or DateBk3 for Palm platforms. Everyone is having problems finding all the wonderful BlackBerry software that finally already exist and all the best BlackBerry software catalogs are still woefully incomplete, caught completely off guard by major software explosion. BlackBerry now has many software programs available, and in certain categories, far exceeds the number of programs available for certain other platforms such as Symbian. (for certain categories of software).
  7. Keep Improving Communications With Consumers and Carriers
    RIM often does new device testing within corporations and businesses, and probably does blind testing too as well. Credit must be given here. RIM is doing an excellent job expanding the BlackBerry market to include additional carriers. RIM is obviously starting to listen a little more, as evidenced by the innovations during Year 2004 and beyond. BlackBerryOS version 4.0 added many features that were critical to corporations. However, RIM also needs to get into better touch with the power user community and with carriers. A lot of important features got added. However, there are still many problems. Many carriers are not very well-informed regarding BlackBerry capabilities, such as the ability to function with networking software (see Configuring Internet on BlackBerry). As a result, many carriers do not support features on BlackBerry while they continue to push the equivalent features on TREO's. This disparity must be solved, because this carrier misinformation can make consumers think that BlackBerry cannot do things that the TREO can -- such as the ability to be used as a modem for laptop. Or the ability to function with chat software. There is a lot of inertia in a big carrier company, and RIM cannot become complacent: They must keep pushing the carriers nonstop, to make sure there is enough continuing momentum to market the BlackBerry properly. RIM must also involve more testers inside and outside of carriers. For example, a few testers from BlackBerryForums and other sources should be included in the regular pool of testers within corporations and carriers. This provides a backup source of feedback for subtle aspects of BlackBerries that are much more important than RIM may have first considered.
RIM is already doing a superb job expanding the BlackBerry market. But this won't last forever. It is wholly possible that RIM has already considered all of the above, or may only be half-heartedly considering these options. While RIM's business strategy may or may not include the options listed above, it is very clear that RIM cannot remain complacent in the face of competition. RIM must resort to creative measures to continue effectively expanding beyond 5 and 10 million subscribers.

The moral of the story is that the consumer market and the business market is much more closely intertwined than many people think. For example, the "word-of-mouth" factor listed in this document. It is my opinion that RIM should not have tunnel vision and focus only on business.

For more information about BlackBerry capabilities, see Mark Rejhon's BlacKBerry FAQ.

Quote:

Note: This is an old post.
This article was written June 2005

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This is a "Mark Rejhon BlackBerry FAQ" article.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE:
Copyright (C) 2005 by Mark Rejhon, All Rights Reserved. Some portions may be Copyright (C) by respective forum members.
Mark Rejhon grants permission to use this article only for private use. For all other uses, please ask Mark Rejhon at Mark Rejhon - aka Marky - Home Page of Mark D. Rejhon to ask for permission to use this article. If any content of this article also contains content by other forum members, please ask them for permission too as well. This includes commercial use, public use, reposting in full/part anywhere on the Internet, publication in magazine/book or any other media, or any other use than private use. This copyright notice may not be edited or removed in any manner. Mark Rejhon reserves exclusive right to edit, remove, or restore this article, and this article may not be edited, removed, or restored by any other individual or organizations.
Quote:

Mark Rejhon was an employee of Idokorro Mobile Inc at Idokorro - Remote Network Administration and he is a volunteer moderator at this BlackBerryForums website.
Disclaimer: Mark Rejhon owns a small number of shares of RIM.

katya 06-02-2005 05:24 PM

Hello Mark,
I really enjoyed your "Top 7" posting. I am a small business person who got my first BlackBerry (7250 w/ EarthLink) a few weeks ago after over a year of doubting that a BlackBerry would suit my needs. Am now at the height of newbie crackberry :} I agree with your commentary and it would be really interesting to see some hard numbers, or even soft ones on who bought the last million BlackBerries and why.

On a side note, there has got to be a better way to tote these puppies around. The belt clip thing may work for guys but it is a non-starter for me and the women I know. Most women do not carry or want to carry a purse all the time. The BlackBerry is too large & too valuable to stuff in my pocket like I do my cell phone. Women are a huge market. Find a better way to carry these things and they'll sell a gizillion. IMHO

By the way, thanks for all your great posts. I have learned much of what I know about BlackBerries, their use, and tricks from you.

Thanks,

Katya

Mark Rejhon 06-03-2005 01:45 AM

Good comments. Keep it coming.

For those reading this thread. These items may not even be a big concern yet, with BlackBerry subscribers still growing fast. One important point to remember is that BlackBerry is doing extremely well now. A lot of this is regarding RIM's future - these are very legitimate concerns about RIM's future, especially as they grow beyond 5 or 10 million subscribers in the coming years.

Any other comments by others?

Doo Dad 06-03-2005 07:45 AM

Mark

I couldn't agree more with your comment about the software catalog. I have a new 7250 and want a time tracking and mileage tracking program. It's painfully difficult to find something suited to an owner operated business. I searched for weeks before getting the BB and am searching still.

towski394 06-03-2005 08:41 AM

I'll agree with Doo Dad. Really the only thing that I have been bothered by is that, for a purported "business" device, there is not very much software to help with the kind of "business" a lot of people do, ie mileage tracking, time tracking, etc. As someone that does outside sales, this thing is a virtual office a lot of the time, yet I still find myself jotting things down on scraps of paper.

Other than that, two thumbs (one of them sore) up!

thebige 06-03-2005 10:29 AM

Mark,
Love the comments, and agree with the majority of them. The concern I feel weighs in the most is point number 5, that they have MUCH quicker hardware innovation. Too often the LG's, Samsungs, and Treo's are viewed as sexier devices, and that keeps the RIM devices out of the number 3/4 users hands.

Just my $.02. Keep up the great work.

Mark Rejhon 06-03-2005 12:45 PM

We should give RIM credit here. They did release the 7100 series, which are far sexier models of BlackBerries than previous models. They need to keep this up, releasing innovating new models, while at the same time improving the traditional models. Scaling up the rollout of new BlackBerry models is very likely daunting to RIM because they have a high standard of operating system stability, and keeping the operating system updated on dozens of models of BlackBerries is going to be a nightmare. Fortunately, OS Version 4.0 is the end of the line for most of the older models, and RIM can finally now concentrate more on newer models.

At a certain point where there are so many models, a consumer division spinoff just might make this easier, as they can have more strict operating system standards for the business BlackBerry division versus the theoretical consumer "BerryMedia" division (if RIM spins off a consumer-specific division, to permit more innovation such as cameras and memory card slots).

RIM has a history of being slow and conservative. This has helped them immensely in many industries, paying off with generally very stable devices that are more bulletproof than other smartphones and PDA's. But at 5 or 10 million subscribers in the future, challenges are going to be rather intense and there is the danger of massively slowing down as a company from the excessive inertia way too early. RIM still has a chance to quickly rocket past 10 million subscribers without yet hitting market saturation, if RIM plays their cards well as the Next Nokia.

A problem I observed was in a recent Popular Science article about smartphones. BlackBerry was not even included in this article, except in a sidebar. This relates to RIM's marketing difficulties in this particular arena and is not really Popular Science's fault. However, See My Letter to Popular Science Magazine which did chide them a little on this issue. This clearly shows one example of a marketing issue by RIM if BlackBerry is not being included in the same articles as TREO phones and iPaq phones.

mok7100 06-29-2005 02:00 PM

A few simple things would help
 
Mark: I agree with all of your comments, but a few simple things would make the BB more viable long term, IMHO.

One is structural: put a Speakephone into *every* model. It's wonderful that they did it in the 71XX series, but why disciminate against the rest of us with 72's, 73's and 77's? The fact that they did in the 7520- it just baffles me that they wouldn't have done it on their standard form factor devices. We'd have thrown away our cell phones here long ago if they had. Bluetooth notwithstanding, there are lots of traditional cell phone users out there who want to carry one device but also one with all the "basic" necessities in the phone portion: omitting the speaker phone was a big mistake, IMHO. I know from talking with one of the carriers reps that there were better considerations, but I'll rest on my comments about the 7520.

The other is integral: I have been a RIM user since before the 850/950: the days of the giant clam shell. I can't even remember what that was called; however, over the years RIM has gotten, again IMO, less and less customer friendly. That's fine if their market is just going to be BES and they want to deal with Corporate IT types, but that would be to their detriment I believe.

Just scan this board to see the level of frustration that had grown as RIM has grown. The most common are the persistent issues with loading the DM software on various flavors of Windows, etc. Additionally, I have found over the last few years that RIM is downright condescending in reponding to help requests. I think this will not serve them in the long run.

-Marc

mortys11 11-21-2005 01:32 PM

"pin me"
 
another proprietary PLUS !!!

****PIN messaging****

this instant delivery message function of BB with delivery verification is a Slam Dunk no brainer for big and small companies alike !

how about marketing that aspect ?????

At the next trade show Rim should have a dozen or so Hot Models with Tight tshits with the message "pin me" on the front and back...all the models could explain the benefits of pinning to interested "drooling" possible customers!

Hey Mike not all the answers are in the text book!

HOME RUN!

ChrisBenson 11-21-2005 01:39 PM

Couldn't agree with you more. Great reading! Thanks Mark!

EoRaptor 11-21-2005 01:59 PM

Voice Dial, especially from a bluetooth handsfree, is a huge void in their abilities. So many business people who want access to their email while traveling also drive places, and thus don't want to fiddle with dialing the on the blackberry during this time.

I've spoken with at least one Blackberry developer, who said it's certainly being worked on, but they need to understand how much of a hinderence it is and get it out there for people.

MarvinK 11-21-2005 05:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mortys11
another proprietary PLUS !!!

****PIN messaging****

I think if RIM wants to actually push the PIN messaging or the Blackberry Messenger, they have a long ways to go in making them more end-user friendly. It doesn't seem like it would take that much work, but it would take an effort on their part. I think they have some catch up on non-RIM messaging. BES41 looks promising for business IM, but most other IM services require annual fees--which isn't competitive with other smart phones.

I love my Blackberry because it works reliably and simply for email. Having said that, its not a great PIM yet. The address book, in particular, it very poor. The third-party applications are limited (yes, RIMRoad and others are inaccurate--but even an accurate list is still relatively unimpressive), but hopefully that will change with the speed of the 8700.

I think part of RIMs problem is marketing. Yes, they need to look at adding a consumer division (and make sure the BES can limit what those consumer models can do in a business environment). But they really need to start thinking about doing more than email--and do it well. Most of their new additions are sloppy, at best. The password manager is a joke (seriously--why not offer a desktop companion?). Blackberry Messenger is clunky. I hope with the new hardware and BES41, and the lawsuit (presumably) behind them, RIM decides to extend from dominating the email market to the smart phone market.

tom2112 01-27-2006 09:17 AM

I've suspected this for a while, but this thread really underlines it. It's apparent to me the RIM doesn't care about the prosumer market. They are only concerned about the Gov't and Corp BES users. Their sales to prosumers seems incidental, and it gives the definite impression that the ONLY reason they're even selling to the prosumers is because it's putting more money in their pocket. They certainly aren't supporting the prosumer market, they're just including it. Big difference. If they were trying to be competitive, they would have basic got-to-have-'em business user features - like speaker phone and voice dial. I won't even get into RIM's security concerns about Bluetooth, cameras, and voice recorders. Do they realize they could offer models that are crippled (read secure - meaning no camera, limited Bluetooth, no voice recorder) AND fully functional models?

It wouldn't be a huge deal to have two board revisions - one that includes the camera and one that doesn't. Don't want to bother having two boards? OK, have two different cases - one with the hole for the camera, and one without the hole. Cameras are of no use if all they can see is the inside of the case.

The Bluetooth profiles could be controlled through the OS and backed up with control through BES. Different versions for the different models - crippled versus fully functional.

I know I've said this before, and it's my favorite rant. So I'll get off my soapbox now.

Mark Rejhon 06-04-2007 02:54 PM

Happy 2nd Anniversary of this post.

In retrospect, this post was really prophetic:
- More consumer friendly BlackBerries
- BlackBerry cameras and memory card slots! Who would've thought.
- More People are now thinking of BlackBerry as yet another cool SmartPhone
- Most media is no longer using outdated BlackBerry email metaphors
- You can now play video, MP3, etc.. You name it!
- There is no more fear of BlackBerry shutdown; more people now think BlackBerry is here to stay.

BlackBerry Now Attractive as Generic Cellphones
BlackBerries are also now a viable option as generic cellphones too; and you can even can now use generic Internet software on a BlackBerry without needing a BlackBerry subscription (i.e. Opera Mini, IM+ works without a BlackBerry plan); this tempts younger consumers to buy anyway, and they may upgrade to a BlackBerry plan later; important in Canada where usable BlackBerry plans start at $60-and-up. This improves BlackBerry reputation; they are being viewed less often as "special business cellphones for those business bigwigs" - and more interesting to the HipTop/Sidekick audience than they were. This grows the market for RIM, by selling more profitable BlackBerry hardware, even if a dwindling percentage of them have a BlackBerry plan attached.

More Work Needed
Lots more work remains to be done, but improvements to an extent have been made to all 7. The mere threat of competition such as iPhone is already driving RIM very hard. Better software catalogs are still needed, for example. Integrate more user-friendly multimedia, such as iTunes or iTunes-like system, make it easier to import video and music without buying expensive software, etc. There are still market sectors that think BlackBerries are boring business tools. Some blogs, denigrate the BlackBerry and pan them. But, overall, the BlackBerry picture among consumers is much more positive than it was 2 years ago!

Potential Business Alienation, Market Confusion
At the same time, RIM needs to balance things out. Businesses may be alienated by difficult BlackBerry keyboard designs that are too small for big fingers of many executives. (Older, big-thumb people miss the good days of the BlackBerry 7290, for example - one of the better BlackBerry keyboards) They may be scared away by the sudden emergence of cameraphones and memory cards (though, thankfully, BES allows you to turn these features off in a secure corporate environment). RIM can reassure these by continuing to support older models, as well as introducing huge numbers of different BlackBerry models. RIM has done an excellent job of keeping both SureType and non-SureType models, even if some market confusion occurs by having so many new BlackBerry models on the market.

Consumer Data Pricing At Carriers
Here, the role model is T-Mobile in the U.S., while Cingular(new AT&T) lowered their pricing since this post was made. With consumer BlackBerry use, a big challenge is data pricing. But more carriers need to follow suit. Lower priced BlackBerry data plans are needed to entice consumers - for example, T-Mobile style pricing needs to come to Canada soon. For example, Rogers Canada now have a $10-for-10meg generic data plan called "Navigate Data Package" which interestingly now works with Opera Mini and IM+ on BlackBerries .... unfortunately, the cheapest BlackBerry EMAIL plan is $25-for-0.5 megabytes (250% as much price, for 1/20th the data!). Carriers need to stop protecting their small golden goose of corporate customers, and introduce consumer-pricing -- Rogers Canada could potentially make more profit at selling 10 times as many BlackBerry plans at half the price, as a potential example. This is needed to prevent BlackBerries from being sold without a data plan, or with only generic data plans (that is only compatible with third party network software, with BlackBerry-branded email/browser being disabled)

Your Opinion
What's your opinion of RIM's progress in the last 2 years?
Good and bad elements?
Stumbling blocks?
What can they do better in the future?

MarvinK 06-05-2007 11:02 AM

I agree about the data pricing. I have 2 teenagers and a wife who want smartphones (iPhone or BlackBerry, depending on which one you ask). With voice plans, you simply add $10/month for each additional phone. Unfortunately, with data plans--you add the full price of the data plan (again). If I were to buy them all BlackBerry or iPhone devices, I'd pay $5000 in cell phone bills for 3 casual users over the next 2 years. I don't mind the price of the phones (even the iPhone), but I'm not willing to pay those data charges. As more consumers and families look at smartphones, I believe this will be the #1 road block. They need to offer discounted group rates on data.

eZainny 06-06-2007 03:30 AM

You know what I think RIM really needs to do?

FIX THEIR BROKEN DEVELOPER API

I was literally gob-smacked when I first started developing for the BlackBerry - what an absolutely atrocious API; poorly documented; inconsistent; blatantly wrong in many places; not flexible (appears to have been designed solely for their needs only).

If RIM wants anyone at all to develop for the BlackBerry and keep the platform alive they better hire some competent developers to fix their API and fast.


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