It’s not often that you get to witness the birth, growth, climax and death of a major company in less than a generation, but we’re all witness to it at RIM, with the impending death of their business.
When I wrote Is Blackberry a Dead Product Walking, I was worried that people would view the headline as hyperbole (and many did, while taking issue with my thoughts). Yet, here we are, less than 18 months later the stock is down form nearly $70 to just above $10. Last week, news comes that RIM, the maker of Blackberry, has engaged JP Morgan Chase and RBC Securities to “help it evaluate its options.”
As I shared in my original post, “You know the surest way to go broke? Keep introducing more new products while you continue to lose share of a growing market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.” It turned out not to be so slow.
Let this be a lesson to all business – especially small and mid-market ones. It didn’t have to be this way. But, sure as the sun sets in the West, RIM followed a direct path to irrelevancy:
- They defined themselves by their product, not by their customer.
- All innovation was inward focused. Increasingly they became a solution looking for a problem.
- They assumed they couldn’t fail.
- They wrote off every challenger – including Apple – as a non-starter, with a model that was not viable. Saying in April 2007, ““Again, I have said this before and I will say it again; Apple has done the industry an enormous favor because they basically told the world expect a media player as a software feature on a good smartphone. As the leading smartphone appliance company and platform company, we could not buy that kind of validation for $100 million.”
- They refused to bring true innovation to the table for fear of cannibalizing their revenue; failing to realize what Steve Jobs did, “If we don’t cannibalize our products, someone else will.”
Don’t fall victim to hubris. Be maniacally focused on your customer, challenge the status quo and you’ll find a future far brighter than RIM’s.