Friday, June 17, 2011
RIM approaches the edge
Research In Motion is Canada's leading tech company, the inventor of the BlackBerry and the smartphone category it once dominated.
Then, in a stunning oversimplification, along came Apple and Google and changed the name of the game. The BlackBerry's uniquely secure and robust messaging was no longer enough. Apps were the thing, as were touchscreens and sleek and sexy industrial design that caught attention and spawned coolness. BlackBerrys have been getting better all the time, but they're no longer cool. It isn't enough to evolve the design. Only revolution, apparently, will do, and resting on your geek laurels is quite the no-no in this industry.
Since the iPhone's debut in 2007 and Google Android's emergence two years later, the clouds over the BlackBerry patch have been darkening. Yesterday, they turned black after the company announced disappointing results: lower profit than the year-ago quarter, shrinking market share and, almost unthinkably, impending job cuts.
To say this has had a seismically frightening impact on Canada's tech industry would be an understatement. This is Nortel all over again, another sign that we depend too heavily on the fortunes of too few superstars. Mom taught us never to put all our eggs in one basket, yet we've done exactly that. Again, And that basket's in trouble.
I wrote the following piece for Yahoo! Canada Finance:
I'll be speaking with Calgary radio station QR77's Angela Kokott at 7:40-ish pm, and then off to the studio for a live hit with CTV News Channel's Marcia MacMillan at 9:00 p.m. (all times Eastern. Update: Video stream here.) I spoke with the Globe and Mail's Gordon Pitts for this piece:
And with the Kitchener-Waterloo Record's Chuck Howitt for this article:
And with 570 News's Mike Farwell:
(The Record is RIM's hometown paper, and 570News is their hometown talk radio station.)
Your turn: The company still made $695 million last quarter. Is it fair that investors can turn a massively profitable company into a pariah? Does the system work?