Remember the BlackBerry? I was once a CrackBerry addict. May it rest in peace. The new future of handheld communication devices began with the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Apple rules that market, for now, because the company was able to develop, produce, and deliver a better smart phone experience; one that was so attractive to users that Apple disrupted the industry.
For every disruptor, there’s a disrupted or two. Or three. That’s what happened to R.I.M., the company that makes the BlackBerry.
It seems ironic, and sad, that a great Canadian company would forget how to skate. This insightful set of phrases are attributed to hockey great Wayne Gretzy.
A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
It’s as if Wayne Gretzy was talking about R.I.M. instead of hockey. Over five years after Apple introduce the iPhone to the world, R.I.M. released prototypes of the new BlackBerry 10. To developers. In the hopes they’ll write compelling applications for a future BlackBerry.
Here’s the problem. R.I.M. hasn’t been skating in the game. They’ve been watching from the sidelines instead of mixing it up, hockey style, with iPhone and Android. This lack of foresight and inability to execute even basics is exemplified by R.I.M’s original Playbook tablet (remember the iPad killers?). It didn’t do email.
For amusement’s sake, let’s say that R.I.M.’s BlackBerry 10 is as good or even slightly better than iPhone and iOS 5.x. Perhaps even on a par with Microsoft’s highly touted but too-little-too late Windows Phone as exemplified by the Nokia Lumia 900.
All R.I.M. has done is skate to where the puck is, and not where it will be. BlackBerry 10 isn’t even a good me-too product.
The Verge has a nice look at BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha. What does it remind you of?
It has great screen resolution, built-in NFC, and a bunch of other standard features, but doesn’t exactly break new ground in look or feel. It’s not where the puck will be.
Why is that problematic?
Marketing. There are basic laws in marketing that R.I.M. and friends have ignored. To carve a niche in a mature market with solid market leaders requires something different.
For example, the new product must have the same features and functions as the market leaders, and a notably lower price. Otherwise, what’s the incentive to switch?
Or, the new product must have more features or substantially better functionality but at the same price as the market leaders. Otherwise, what’s the incentive to switch?
R.I.M might be working very hard to get in the game, but they’ve had five years to match what the iPhone and Android phones are doing now. If all they do is skate to where the puck is, how will they fare when the puck moves?