Rain Makers, The Forecast

BlackBerry PlayBook: One Tablet, So Many Problems

At the end of last week, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) announced their latest quarter’s earnings. The numbers are bad. 

RIM shipped 200,000 PlayBooks (compared to its own expectation of 600,000 and Apple’s reported sales of over 9 million iPads last quarter), and reported a 47% dropoff in profit. The company reported shipment of 10.6 million smartphones in Q2 2011 (compared to Apple’s 20 million iPhones sold during the same period.)

This earnings report reminds us of some serious questions we asked about RIM (read:  Bye Bye BlackBerry?) this summer.  Is the company’s recent launch of BlackBerry 7 to an underwhelming response, coupled with the PlayBook flop, just more evidence of the impending demise of the one-time smartphone leader? 


According to RIM co-CEO’s Ballsillie and Lazaridis, we can’t count out either BlackBerry 7 or the PlayBook just yet. They promised a major upgrade to PlayBook (called PlayBook 2.0) and hinted that there would be more to expect at the RIM dev conference in October.

"It’s pretty clear the BlackBerry platform is now in decline, said analyst Tavis McCourt at Morgan Keegan. "They really need QNX to reinvigorate the business."

Getting QNX OS onto other RIM devices ASAP (it’s only on PlayBook now) seems to be RIM’s only hope for competing against the likes of Apple and Google in the tablet and smartphone markets.  And they’re promising to do just that, in a big way. 

Some analysts, however, think it’s too little, too late.  Some cite a lack of “meaningful evidence” to support the company’s turnaround after several consecutive quarters of poor performance. 

My opinion?  RIM has failed to produce devices that attract consumer attention and sell in a world that’s weaving technology and the devices to use it deeper and deeper into its culture every day. They’ve failed to build an ecosystem to support those devices and users. 

RIM’s BlackBerry brand built its entire identity around the business space. There’s simply no competitive advantage, nothing unique and salable, about the BlackBerry brand anymore. They’ve become a “me too.”

Unless the RIM team gets really serious about QNX and its next round of devices, it’s probably getting to be about the end of the road. 

One thought on “BlackBerry PlayBook: One Tablet, So Many Problems
  • Steve Noel says:

    Great points, I think the key is when you said “RIM’s BlackBerry brand built its entire identity around the business space”. This was their critical mistake, building only for one market segment, the corporate IT, when their products were not user friendly. In the current climate, a user can connect their “preferred” device to at least some corporate resources, like email. This is often enough.

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