The Painfully Slow Death of RIM (Research In Motion)

Intense title, right? Yeah, that ought to get the juices flowing. I believe it is true that Research in Motion (RIM)’s best days may be long gone. Now hear me out and if you disagree then comment away!

Is it just me, or does Mike Lazaridis look like he is going to cry in this video? It seems like a rather straight-forward question that any powerhouse CEO would easily be able to tackle. My theory is he has a lot to worry about right now and here’s why:

1. The BlackBerry PlayBook is Unbelievably Bad

Don’t take it from me, here is a nice summary of PlayBook reviews.

I have always held a certain special hatred for the BlackBerry (BB) operating system. In one of my past jobs I was given a BB for free (including the plan) so I used it. Everyday I waited for the day that I would be “forced” to get a better phone when I was no longer able to get the BB for free. Such a glorious day it was when I picked up my iPhone 4!

Don’t tune out yet. Yes, I own an iPhone – but I am not a fanboy. In fact, I am already considering getting an Android phone next because of the “my-way-or-the-highway’ locked-down nature of the iPhone (no different than the BB). But I digress.

2. The BlackBerry Operating System is SO bad

Did I already say that? I suppose I did, but it requires more depth. A successful phone these days is about the user-experience. It’s about the ability to customize (ahem, Apple could learn a thing or two here *hint: we shouldn’t have to jailbreak!), a sleek interface, a smooth powerful system and a diverse application offering. The BB OS has done little to innovate in any of these categories. The only reason it hasn’t disappeared already is because of its brand.

3. The Brand will only carry you so far

Consumers are always rational and make informed decisions when purchasing products, right? Wrong. Purchase decisions are made largely based on intangibles like brand recognition and loyalty. This is why many people turn a blind eye to BB’s flaws. Many BB users are beginning to see the light, however. It used to be that the only positive thing I would hear about BBs would be “that is has BBM” or “that it is produced locally”. I hear less and less of those arguments everyday as people are slowly starting to see that there are simply better options out there.Don’t get me wrong, BBs used to be the best thing on the market – but that time has long past and it is time to let go.

If I had a lot of money (unfortunately, I do not), I would short BB stock and wait 20-30 years. Given their size and the apparent power of their (obsolete) brand it will take a LONG time for BB to disappear and perhaps they will never truly disappear. Perhaps they can continue to find business in other parts of the world where consumers are less picky. As far as I’m concerned, though, BB is starting to show signs of a terminal illness beginning to spread beneath its shiny black surface.

A great article that builds on what I have mentioned here: http://www.slate.com/id/2291255/

Feels good. I’ve been meaning to get a summary like that out for a while. Some of you disagree, I’m sure. Feel free to comment. But please, no more “but it has BBM!”

Update: It’s happening even faster than I imagined. See this Globe and Mail article

Another Update: looking like I was right http://gizmodo.com/5922154/rim-cutting-5000-jobs-and-pushing-back-bb10-in-disastrous-quarter

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Originality is Dead, But it’s Okay

The idea that nothing is original anymore is, itself, not original. This has been expressed in many different ways but perhaps most poetically expressed in the Bible:

“That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes (Bible)

originality-is-deadIt is hard to believe that with over 6 billion people alive today that any individual can think of something that over 5,999,999 others have not thought of. For the most part I believe this to be true but there are some things to be taken into consideration – the news isn’t all bad.

First of all, although any individual idea may not be original, combinations of ideas can be very original. In fact, the greatest ideas today are unique combinations of concepts.

Take the average Hollywood movie. Chances are you have seen a movie with a similar plot before. Hell, James Cameron received a lot of flack for Avatar because it had a similar plot to a couple movies. In reality, all he did was take a universal story and applied it in a novel way. If people were that sensitive to similar stories, chick-flicks would be non-existent. How many of those have original plot lines? Not many.

The good news is that although there are no truly unique ideas on their own, the combination of ideas or repurposing of ideas can still produce fantastic outcomes. So all you entrepreneurs out there, steal like an artist.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”