Last night we had an interesting exchange at TPMA about whether RIM can effectively compete in the mobile handset and tablet space for the long term. I am a staunch RIM supporter, not just because I love my Blackberry, but they are a very successful Canadian-based technology organization constantly showing strong financial results.
TPMA members involved in the discussion were completely convinced that RIM’s current strategy is flawed and Apple is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, I do have an iPod and a brand new iPad 2. I have to agree: they are beautiful devices. Apple does have an uncanny ability to connect with the consumer on an emotional level which RIM doesn’t have. However, should RIM continue to focus on the business segment, pragmatism should win over emotion. The big question is: Is RIM now also trying to capture the consumer segment?
My Queen’s Marketing professor, Ken Wong, would agree that being a leader in one market segment, namely the business segment, doesn’t necessarily make you a strong contender in a different market, namely the consumer segment. With their Playbook strategy, RIM appears to be trying to emulate Apple by opening it up to Android apps and targeting the consumer market. Maybe RIM is too consumed with comparing itself to, and competing with, Apple.
Is RIM forgetting who its loyal customers are and what its real market differentiators are? I believe RIM is a smart organization with leaders who will make the right strategic decisions.