Android just got a boost it didn’t need. RIM, already staggering after a 5% market-share drop over the last quarter and the Playbook debacle, has just…well, “shot itself through the foot” fails to convey quite the right sort of intensity. In fact it has executed a hitherto-unprecedented form of marketing suicide which can only be characterized as a “double-tap Osborne through the head”.
Full story at BlackBerry OS 7: How to Osborne your smartphone sales (hat tip to Ken Burnside for the link and the post title). It’s well written, worth reading, and poignant for me because, yes, I myself once owned an Osborne 1. In brief, RIM just murdered the sales prospects of all its existing hardware and software in favor of a new handset that won’t ship for a couple of months and a new OS version that will not be available as an over-the-air update to its existing customers.
A point I think the authors didn’t emphasize quite enough is how badly this move is going to cheese off RIM’s carrier partners. RIM has just hammered not just its own revenue but the revenue the carriers were expecting from OS 6 handsets they had in inventory, which will now likely go unsold as customers realize they’ll never be upgradable. RIM relies on its carrier partners not just as a sales conduit but for most of its marketing, as well. How eager do you suppose the carriers are going to be to continue that, now?
It’s truly odd how something about the smartphone business seems to produce epic attacks of suicidal stupidity at formerly well-run companies, and the parallel with Nokia is becoming ever more compelling in this case. RIM’s initial strategic blunder – choosing to fight Android rather than co-opt it – has been followed by an escalating series of screwups in their execution, like the bad joke that is the Playbook.
Following this one, my previous assessment that RIM might be able to fort up around its more inertia-ridden corporate customers for 5-9% of continuing market share is out the window. They just threw that prospect away. Now I think RIM’s got a year to live, tops, with their best case being a buyout by somebody with a use for their infrastructure.