Smartphone Battle is part of the Broader Technology War
Research in Motion ,the maker of BlackBerry smartphones used to be a stock market darling not even a couple of year ago.However in the last 2 years,thing have dramatically changed in the smartphone market with the advent of Apple and Google.RIMM’s stock price has crashed down to all time lows even as Apple has become the largest company by market cap in Nasdaq.In fact the whole Technology Market has changed with Consolidation creating Technology Behemoths.Apple,Google,Microsoft and Amazon which earlier used to compete in separate technology segments are now competing head to head with each other in Tablets,Smartphones,Digital Ebooks,SAAS,Music Players etc. You can see the technology consolidation around these 5-10 major technology behemoths which are now straddling large parts of the the technology spectrum. Cisco , HP and IBM are competing in the networking ,server and storage markets while the four mentioned above are colliding head to head in the consumer technology space.
Smartphone Battle is the Most Fiercely Being Fought
Resarch in Motion used to be the undisputed pure play smartphone company enjoying a huge brand premium with Blackberry phones a must-have gadget for the corporate executive due to its pathbreaking “push email” technology.Other companies like Palm,Nokia were also big players but did not have the Blackberry Charisma.However the entry of the iPhone changed everything.Like the iPod,Steve Jobs changed the mobile industry forever creating a new standard which left the incumbent players in the dust.Google with its Android O/S for smartphones brought another paradigm change.Smaller companies like Motorola,HTC,Samsung,LG and others hitched their bandwagon with Google in order to survive against the Apple onslaught.RIMM from being the numero uno became another big player trying to catch-up to Apple.Its newer offerings like Storm and Torch have failed to create a ripple and it looks like a future case study of how technology companies fail.
What were the mistakes that Research in Motion made
The Biggest Mistake that Research in Motion made was that it failed to understand the game changing “Touch Technology”.Like Nokia which lost the “Flip” Trend in Mobile Phones to Samsung,RIMM failed to introduce a Touch Technology to rival Apple.Now RIMM trails all the big players like Samsung,HTC in the Touch Technology.
The Second Mistake that RIMM made was to fail in Expanding its primary US market to newer emerging markets and demographics like the “non-business” segment.It is now trying to move into the much larger consumer segment but it is again too late as things move fast in the Technology World
The Third Mistake is that Research in Motion has been a laggard in new innovations still resting on its past laurels.RIMM has not come out with a great feature in its mobile phones for a long time even as rivals like Samsung,Apple,HTC seem to come out with a compelling feature everyday.
What does the Future Hold for Resarch in Motion
There is no Future for RIMM as an independent entity as it continues to lose brand appeal,marketshare and revenues to bigger and innovative rivals.Like Palm being taken over by HP,it seems destined to be bought by a bigger tech company.Nokia and RIMM seem to be the best fit because of complementary strengths.Both have been bruised by the Apple-Google juggernaut and are now trading at very low valuations.Nokia is strong in the low end phones while RIMM is great at smartphones.RIMM is strong in the USA market where Nokia is extremely weak.