Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that gave us the ubiquitous Blackberry, will not be with us for much longer.
All the signs are there – the mounting losses and declining sales, the shuffles of senior management, the plummeting share price, and of course the protestations from the team in charge that all is fine and the company is setting a new path with a wonderful new strategy.
It will not happen. Its users are deserting in droves – the Blackberry and all it stands for are simply on the wrong side of history. In Australia, Qantas announced just this week that it is ditching its thousands of Blackberries for Apple’s iPhone, a decision being made by hundreds of organisations, large and small, around the globe.
Novell was one of the industry’s major players. It owned the LAN space, it acquired the Unix brand name, and had a grand strategy to merge it with its network operating system (NOS) to create a “superNOS” that would blow Windows away. It also acquired WordPerfect, and was going to launch an assault on Microsoft’s dominance of desktop applications.
It all came to naught, of course. Successive versions of Microsoft Windows improved their networking capabilities until Novell’s software was unnecessary. Novell executives remained in denial, deluded by their own hype, until it was far too late.
A similar fate befell Digital, once the second largest company in the IT industry. And look at all the other big names that have gone – Sun, Compaq, Amdahl, to name a few – and a host of software companies.
Success in the IT industry is fleeting. A company can hit on the right product at the right time and light up the firmament to such an extent that it believes it is indestructible, only to burn up on re-entry.
RIM is a one-product company, as was Novell, and the reason for that product’s success are no longer relevant. Companies like Good Technology and Mobile Iron are giving iPhones and other smart phones Blackberry-like security and functionality, at a fraction of the price, while providing a host of other benefits.
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) computing is the way of the future, despite the vain attempts of many organisations and CIOs to stem the tide. The Blackberry is looking very much like yesterday’s technology, from yesterday’s company.
I predict RIM’s demise will be swift, much quicker than Novell’s. It will be acquired in the next 12 months, at a fire sale price, by a Google or an Amazon or a Microsoft or some private equity vulture capitalists who will pick at its bones and throw the carcass away.
So sad. So inevitable. So 21st century.