It may not be officially kaput, but the dismal first quarter report from the manufacturer of the Blackberry, Research in Motion is suggestive of the next to last nail in the coffin. RIM announced Thursday, it will lay off 5,000 workers after a first quarter loss of $518 million. Although no obituary has been released, behind the scenes I am sure company officials are looking to sell off the company. There is still loyalty to the Blackberry brand, especially in the business community, but it will be a hard sell.
RIM was once a leader in the wireless communications and wireless devices industry. Only a few short years ago, their star device was nicknamed the “Crackberry” for its near addictive appeal. RIM’s tumble from pre-eminence can be attributed to hubris or lack of responsiveness to a rapidly evolving business environment, but more specifically the cause of RIM’s downfall was Apple. The wireless communications giant absolutely destroyed its competitors in the wireless devices market, when it released the iPhone. The ensuing wave of smartphones was a death knell for the Blackberry. Many of its best features became incorporated and then surpassed by its competitors. Blackberry failed to adapt and came out with industry standards like a touch screen far too late. What remains of Blackberry’s once widespread consumer base is now almost completely predicated on nostalgia rather than functionality.
If Blackberry can resurrect itself, it will be miraculous. The new operating system it was pinning its hopes on, has been delayed, and if it fails to materialize, no one will be surprised. Even if it does reach the market, the hopes that it will revive RIM are slim to none. By then the market will probably have evolved past it.