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RIM's decomposing innovation

It’s hard to get excited about the new RIM Blackberry Torch.  It’s not exciting in a positive way and not exciting in a negative way. It’s just more of the same and the same is not all that bad. Then again, the same is not all that good either. Every piece of the Torch product is playing catch-up with others’ innovations without enhancing the core innovation RIM itself brought into the market years ago.

RIM has a significant but deteriorating share and is a company that has done very well as an entrant in a space dominated by larger incumbents.  But there is a strong smell of Palm about it.  The musty smell of decomposing innovation. Wall Street seems to smell it too (two year stock price chart relative to AAPL below)

The problem seems to be that, like in Palm’s case, mobile computing is a game for big companies.  If you ask why Palm and RIM became uncompetitive you get two different reasons. Palm could not do hardware and distribution well and RIM can’t do software well. But these reasons have remedies which neither company can bring to bear: resources and processes. Palm did not have the resources for distribution and production and RIM did not have the processes to be a software platform company.

Their values and priorities are adequate but competitiveness today, in this market, requires projecting market and development power.

I can only conclude that RIM is simply too weak to make it in the long run.

  • Nate

    So RIM *really* should have bought Palm, then.

    • http://www.asymco.com asymco

      They should have, and I believe they did actually bid.

  • http://www.theuniversalsteve.com SSteve

    RIM has a better chance of pulling out of the tailspin than Palm did. It only takes a handful of very talented people design a great software platform. There are two requirements: 1) very talented people and 2) management getting out of their way.

    • Dave

      I don't really agree. It takes a couple of other things:

      (1) Willingness to drop support for legacy (or non-touch) things.

      Microsoft is *still* wrestling with this. "Slates" will run "Windows". Not sure exactly what this means, but if it's a stylus… or a shell… or a keyboard-based OS… recipe for disaster.

      (2) Vertical integration, and the momentum of a couple of years of delivering it.

      Android has one major weakness – millions of iPhone/iPod touch/iPad consumers with apps already installed. Ignoring other positives of the AppStore – and yes, there are definitely negatives – you have the "lock in" that Apple has grown.

      These two combined result in MUCH more requirements than you spell out SSteve.