By Mark Evans
With all the talk about Research in Motion’s financial and marketshare struggles, many people tend to overlook the fact that it is still a wireless behemoth, albeit one with intense and growing competition. It’s not just another Nortel.
Nevertheless, RIM needs to make some major moves to jump-start and revitalize its prospects. Here are some ideas:
1. It should hire a chief operating officer with strong marketing expertise, as well as a kick-ass chief marketing officer. While no one is going to match the coolness of Apple, RIM’s marketing efforts in the pro-sumer marketplace have not been inspiring, creative, or noteworthy. That said, there’s lots of potential to develop compelling campaigns that appeal to non-corporate users. Here’s a free one: the young’uns love the BlackBerry keyboard so they can pound out BBMs, text-messages, tweets, and Facebook updates. How about a fun, quirky ad campaign that worships the keyboard?
2. BlackBerry’s Web browser needs to rock the house. I’m not talking about good, I’m talking awesome. For years, RIM ignored the sad reality it’s Web browser was crap. Now, people are surfing the Web anywhere and any time so RIM must make browsing on the BlackBerry easy, efficient, and intutive. If need be, make a major acquisition to get it done.
3. It should make strategic acquisitions to enhance the BlackBerry features. The deals for Tungle, a scheduling service, and Scoreloop, a social and gaming application maker, were smart moves. RIM should make more small, but strategic, acquisitions so it can provide BlackBerry and PlayBook users with a strong suite of in-house applications.
4. Do whatever it takes to bring the developer community into the tent. With multiple devices and two operating systems – the upcoming BlackBerry OS 7 and the next-generation QNX – it is challenging for developers to play with RIM. While RIM will never have the same size developer ecosystem as Apple or Android, it has to have a big enough community to provide the BlackBerry and PlayBook with enough support. And, at the same time, RIM needs to bend over backward to keep its current developer partners.
5. Lose the hubris and arrogance. When I first started covering RIM more than 10 years ago, it was a friendly, accessible organization. As it grew, the company became more remote and impenetrable. At the same time, its co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, seemed to become more cocky, which no longer goes over well when you’re no longer king of the hill.
6. Fix the PlayBook as quickly as possible. Without sugar-coating it, the PlayBook was launched as a half-baked product. Anyone who purchased one out of the gate was a fool. Sure, it has some nice features, including the ability to handle Flash, but there are also so many holes it’s nowhere ready for prime time. Yes, I can understand why RIM had to get the PlayBook out the door but it must bring out a ready-for-primetime PlayBook 2.0, along with an ad campaign that delights and entices.
7. Share the love with the blogging community. I’m only talking from personal experience but I find it strange to have almost no relationship with RIM even though I consider myself to be a modestly prominent member of the Canadian high-tech community. In the past five years, the only time I’ve been invited to a RIM event was a launch party for the Torch last year. Then again, nearly everyone was invited to that party, which was held at a nightclub in downtown Toronto, which also struck me as odd. Other than that, RIM and I are strangers, which means I’ve never had a chance to check out the PlayBook, for example.
Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect RIM has a similar approach to the overall community.
First published on markevanstech.com