I've been a mobile devices guy since 1996. I've helped a couple of different mobile sites, including pocketnow.com, get off the ground. As a result I've got a bit of a soft spot for them; pocketnow is one of the sites I visit daily. But I don't think its 2012 predictions articles, starting with this one, tighten the screws enough on RIM or speculate enough on its chances for a successful 2012.It's going to take more than betting the farm on QNX/BB 10 or firing a few misbehaving executives for RIM to survive 2012. This might come off as harsh, but let's review what RIM needs to do.
- Get rid of the co-CEOs. Both of these guys need to go. They're obviously clueless about what needs to be done to make RIM a player again. The stock's performance over the last year, including the loss of 77% of its value, and all of the negative press clearly is the result of poor leadership. Neither of these guys has singled himself out as the leader to keep. Neither seems to have a solid, workable plan of action for righting the company. New leadership and clear, decisive action is what is needed, the sooner the better.
- Resolve development issues and release BB 10 by July 2012--or drop the platform. I've been involved in software companies with this exact same issue; the current platform isn't sustainable, profitable, or viable, for whatever reason. A clear, actionable, measurable plan needs to be developed and analyzed by the organization's new CEO and his or her team. If projections cannot have the new platform go gold master by June 15, the organization shouldn't bother trying to finish it. It will just be a waste of time, money, and resources. Going live after the start of the 2012 holiday buying season, as currently planned, would be a death knell. The organization won't be able to restore any market share if they wait that long. Consumers and IT managers both will move on. That leaves five short months to get this thing out and based on the way things are going, my gut tells me that's just not going to happen.
- Sell the company. This is the only viable option RIM has. It has turned down or scared away takeover bids by Microsoft, Amazon, and Nokia. Between now and the end of the year, RIM is going to continue to lose market share, cash, and relevance. Shareholders, end users, and IT departments will continue to lose confidence in it. Honestly, given its track record, RIM is only one serious Blackberry outage away from total collapse. The new CEO should make the sale of the company his first action item.
Yes, I could be totally wrong and RIM could crawl back from the edge of this abyss, but stop for just a moment and think about it. If you're honest with yourself, it really doesn't seem that likely, given the comedy of errors that appears to be playing itself out in Ontario. It's sad and disappointing, but given the success of both iOS and Android over the past few years, Windows Phone is going to have a hard enough time competing in the mobile devices space, and Microsoft doesn't have nearly the hurdles to jump over that RIM does.
This doesn't paint a pretty picture for RIM, once the dominant player in the mobile market. But this is what 2012 has in store for the company. The best thing its board can do at this point is accept the inevitable and preserve RIM's value for its shareholders.