HP's TouchPad couldn't touch Apple's iPad, but BlackBerry maker Research in Motion still thinks its smartphones can touch Apple's iPhone.
Never mind that the iPhone keeps leaving the BlackBerry, the original hit smartphone, behind. RIM keeps trying.
Tuesday, RIM announced three new BlackBerry smartphones: the BlackBerry Curve 9350, BlackBerry Curve 9360, and BlackBerry Curve 9370. The company says the new smartphones are exciting additions to the popular BlackBerry Curve series.
They are said to be affordable, easy-to-use, full-featured and socially-connected smartphones.
No doubt, the new BlackBerry Curve's are fine products, a step ahead for RIM's anchor product. But polls and consumers show with each and every passing day that Apple's iPhone is the leader. One poll, for instance, suggested that as many as 6 out of 10 American consumers want Apple's new iPhone.
So while RIM rolls out multiple new BlackBerry models, the Internet is clogged full of searches for information on just one forthcoming product from Apple -- the iPhone 5.
Once a Wall Street darling due to success of the BlackBerry, RIM 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 Android. 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 smartphones 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 have all their devices interface seamlessly. 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 as it 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 all but 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 consumers reveal that once they get iPhones and Androids in hand that the BlackBerry is comparison is like the metal wheel was 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 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 market as early as this year, as the company is rumored to release a down-market iPhone 4 that is simpler and cheaper, but with enhanced voice application.
We saw when HP first dropped the price by $100 on its new TouchPad that customers still didn't come running. In fact, it took a $99 fire sale to get the product moving. Lower pricing doesn't help much, and Apple's iPhone is selling all over the world despite a price tag of $500 and up.
5. Not an Attractive Takeover Candidate
Finally, Research in Motion will eventually wither away because the company's girth -- which 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 are doing right this very second, being hot the day before means nothing. In fact, being bigger then becomes a liability, meaning more bureaucracy in place to stifle nimbleness needed to readjust quickly to changing conditions.
The company is in the midst of downsizing, but when you think of RIM, think of Palm. Many thought HP was crazy for buying Palm, at one time a leader in the same way RIM was recently a leader. HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm's WebOS system. They had big plans for it, too.
But just seven weeks after launching the TouchPad tablet on the WebOS system, HP said it was walking away from the product, and would also no longer support WebOS.
That little blunder shows how fast a once-hot tech company can lose all value. Apple is the leader, by far, and until RIM can make an actual dent in Apple's gain, the company will have little value to potential buyers.