BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. is having a hard time lately. The company is losing customers to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android, and the support of some leading software developers who don't think it's worth their time to make apps for BlackBerry anymore.
And, read below, they are probably right.
Once a Wall Street darling due to success of the BlackBerry, has failed to outperform the S&P 500-stock index since 2009 and the stock is now near a 52-week low and facing turmoil over its dual leadership in advance of what could be a heated annual shareholders meeting.
Some people think Research in Motion will weather the growing storm, as the company insists, with new product able to take on Apple's iPhone and Google's popular Andoid. Other think the stock is a value play at these depressed levels. Common sense though says Research in Motion and the BlackBerry smartphone are all but dead, merely living on life support which doesn't last long in the dog-eat-dog world of consumer technology.
One minute you are in, the next you are out. Here are five reasons Research in Motion and its BlackBerry smartphone are going, going, gone sooner than you may think.
1. Too Few Apps
The news is hitting hard at Research in Motion that leading software developers like Seesmic Inc., which makes apps for the likes of the Miami Dolphins and Taylor Swift, and Purple Forge Corp., which makes programs for political campaigns and polling, have said they will no longer make programs for BlackBerry.
Research in Motion proudly proclaims the company has 35,000 apps available in the company's online store nonetheless, so who needs them anyway! Well, BlackBerry users need them, since it is an app world we live in these days, after all. Consumers can find more than 200,000 apps in the Android Market and 425,000 apps in Apple's App Store. Ouch.
2. Little Cross-Selling Push
Consider that buyers of a BlackBerry can't go to the store and buy an easy-to-use personal computer they can plug in and quickly mesh everything as one. But that's the way it works with Apple. Many are underestimating how much market share this company is going to take for that fact alone. Many consumers did not join the Mac desktop and laptop computer realm all these years, sticking with PCs. But darn it for Research in Motion, that's all changing now.
Grandmothers who got iPads for Christmas and an iPhone for their birthday are suddenly deciding they may need a Mac after all. Once the company cross sells at is is now, pulling the initial iPad customer into the iPhone and the Mac, well, competitors need only to wave the surrender flag. This game is over. Research in Motion has only its products to push, and very little sexy beyond that. In this tech world, it's fast becoming one play, all play - meaning the winner takes all (the products.)
3. Hard to Use Product
Research in Motion is working hard and to get is latest, greatest updated BlackBerry products out, but consumer reveals to consumers once they get iPhones and Android's in hand that the BlackBerry is comparison is like the metal wheel up against the best Michelin tire one can buy. It's a bit dated. Most Blackberry users can tell of calling so many people they didn't mean to call from accidental auto dials. The screen is too small, and the buttons and such aren't even always in the same place from one model to the next. The product served its purpose for a while, but only until the next generation of smartphones - read Apple and Google - came along to deliver one harsh, deadly blow. The consumer doesn't have much patience these days, and once a product shows its too far behind the times, well, it is.
4. Pricing Won't Help
Arguments have been made that Research in Motion can remain a player in the smartphone business based on its current customer base by competitively pricing its products in the future below Apple's iPhone and Google's Android. But already Apple is showing it will get into the low-priced smartphone model, as early as this year, as the company is expected to release down-market iPhone 4 that is simpler and cheaper, but with enhanced voice application.
5. Not an Attractive Takeover Candidate
Finally, Research in Motion will eventually wither away because the company's girth that some seem to think will serve as a hedge of safety against the future is in fact a great liability. The company is big based upon being yesterday's hot thing. When technology wins out in a fast-moving technology world like this, as Apple's and Google's is doing right this very second, being hot the day before means nothing. In fact, bigger then becomes a liability, meaning more bureaucracy in place to stifle nimbleness needed to readjust quickly to changing conditions.