Editorial: The demise of RIM

I bet that looks familiar to you. I bet you've owned / used a BlackBerry at least once in your life.

Remember the glorious days when having a BlackBerry drew instant respect towards you? Yes, RIM was a dominant force in the mobile world once upon a time, believe it or not. Heck it was the king, alongside Nokia of course (though the latter was ruling European market), and it seemed that there was no stopping the Canadian Waterloo-based giant.

Fast forward to late 2011.

You're right, RIM is still hanging in there but for every new quarter result it continues to plunge down drastically. Moreover, these charts (doesn't matter which source) continue to extinguish any proof of what was once a true powerhouse.

So what went wrong? Or should we ask, what went terribly wrong for Research In Motion?

When dissecting a company's downfall it's usually unjust to point fingers as it often speaks of everyone's contribution in one way or another, however for the sake of this editorial it's crystal clear who the elephant in the room was: RIM's leadership. More precisely Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the two former co-CEO's of Research In Motion.

While it is unfair to single out these two individuals as being solely responsible for the downfall of the popular BlackBerry brand, you're not missing the target too far off either. After all, you're a CEO for a reason.

Leadership. What does that word mean to you? To me it means to take initiative to drive something forward. In RIM's case, the force was drawing to a halt. A jockey that hit a little too many errors.

However what was the "it" factor? What caused a now possible demise of RIM? The answer is quiet simple: competition.

With the rise of Apple's immensely popular iPhone and a bit later on Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry was bound to get a few pushes from the other boys. In fact, it was supposed to be a good idea for RIM to get pushed around by competitors because it would turn their attention to something they never exceed upon once iPhones and Androids came knocking on the door: innovation.

While Google and Apple continued to rain on RIM's parade with releasing high-end innovative mobile devices that pushed average consumer's interest to a new level, BlackBerry remained mainly the same. Same design, same software, same hardware, same focus on what was popular "back when they were on top" kind of mentality. This carried on and on resulting in an outdated mobile OS, hardware, design, lack of apps, yesteryear specs, and so forth.

Somewhere along the line of struggling to keep up with the sudden boom of the iPhone and the surprising storm of green bot army Android, as well as failing to define what it meant to keep its consumers craving at an all time high, RIM lost the battle. Lost it in a big way.

Nowadays, lack of leadership from Research In Motion can be seen on just about any of the moves that the Canadian company makes. Where do we even begin? The underwhelming OS 7, the continuously delayed QNX phones that are supposed to stop the bleeding, complete failure to excite the consumer market with the company's first tablet 'PlayBook', truly outdated phones in nearly all parameters, a purported bid from Microsoft, Nokia, and Amazon, constant drop in consumer interest and market share (especially usage), and boy do we need to go on? That sounds bad enough.

Of course, if we know anything about RIM it's the company's success in the government market due to BlackBerry's high security and manageability. One thing you could never take away from the BlackBerry brand, no matter how rocky the road got for RIM, was its top of the line security. This was always the reason most government officials used BlackBerry handsets since RIM's beginning up to...well 2012 really. However, sadly this is also changing into a negative for the folks in Waterloo, Ontario. It seems that even the federal government is making a shift to Apple and Google naturally dragging alone most of the big tech companies since the phones offered from RIM's rivals are offering on-par security (well....Android got some work to do in that department let's be honest here). Don't believe me? See it from Washington Post for a further read.

So you ask, is this the end for RIM and in turn the curtain call for BlackBerry?

Absolutely not. However, its shaky future depends solely on its leadership. If there's a way to explain it more easily, let's just say for RIM it's simply now or never.