Feature: Building Business

From Mobile Market Maker to Mimicker: RIM Not Too Big To Fail

Author: Greg Voakes
Published: May 18, 2012 at 8:18 am

Research in Motion, commonly referred to as RIM, has taken a stunning fall from grace that has raised eyebrows all around the business world and is likely to become a staple in business education. According to BBC News, the maker of the once popular and ubiquitous BlackBerry device reported a stunning loss of earnings over the first quarter of 2012.

While Research in Motion remains a multinational company with billions of dollars in operating expenses, it is now seen as an also-ran in the world of smartphones and PDAs and some openly wonder if it will still be operating within a year or two. For example, only 5% of all smartphones sold in the United States in the past three months have been manufactured by RIM. By comparison, Apple had a 43% market share. How could a company that was once so groundbreaking fall so far behind? And how long can the company last using it current business techniques?

Before analyzing its downfall, it is well worth understanding and cataloging RIM’s achievements. In the very late 1990s and early 2000s it was the premiere handheld wireless device for receiving and sending emails. Because the BlackBerry product was popular among investment bankers, RIM quickly grew its market and BlackBerry became the most well-known and most widely used mobile device, particularly because BlackBerry was able to synchronize its device with Microsoft Outlook, meaning that users were able to check and respond to their emails via their mobile – and when they returned to the office, the emails they had read and responded to would be marked as such in the Outlook inbox.

While this may not seem remarkable now, at the time it certainly was, as evidenced by a 2001 article archived from CNN Money, in which the tech writer is astounded at RIM’s care for the cross-platform functionality of its product, and in RIM’s ability to understand and meet the needs of its clients. In fact, the leading product, BlackBerry, was even nicknamed “Crackberry,” because people in business used it so compulsively, and felt helpless without it. In short, RIM’s Personal Information Management service and its OTA synchronization were, at that time, easily top-of-class.  

For a significant period of time, RIM was able to capitalize and expand upon its success. In 2006, it made its mobile devices easily compatible with Macintosh products by coming to an agreement with Information Appliance Associates to offer PocketMac free of charge to all users who needed it.

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Article Author: Greg Voakes

Right now, I'm really into guinea pig pictures. Thanks for reading.

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