I’ve always had a soft spot for RIM and Blackberry products. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, and they work, most of time. So the fact that RIM is now facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy (see here) and is in serious decline saddens me, and they are one tech company, along with Apple, that I have never criticized.
Let’s not forget: Blackberry was the first smartphone as we now them today. It was the first mainstream phone that could push emails, and formed an essential bit of kit for the modern businessman at the time.
I think it’s fair to say that RIM and Blackberry did for business users what Apple did for consumers with the iPhone: change the game. Of course, things have changed significantly now with many business users taking up the iPhone, but that’s how it was.
Compare this to the mix of Android and Samsung, nothing is really innovative, with the latter even trying their hand at copying the standard Blackberry model of phone (it’s a fairly poor attempt in terms of functionality).
In a world where only one company truly thinks different, RIM really made an effort not to steal and come up with new ideas. You might bring up the Playbook to counter that argument, but when you look at it, some of the technology was actually brand new: it pioneered the idea of a 7 inch tablet, and I think it was the first model to come out with touch sensitive bezels.
I’ve tried one out myself, and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was compared to the iPad. It’s certainly a different experience, with the Blackberry Playbook OS unique and unlike iOS design wise (you can’t say the same for Android).
However probably the most important thing in all this is the company strategy. RIM and Blackberry controls both the hardware and the software. As far as I know, there’s only one other company that does exactly that, and it’s Apple. That’s crucial: it allows the Blackberry range to have good products and products that work. They’re not there yet at Apple’s level, but I’d certainly rank them above anyone else for phones and tablets.
Yes, they’ve had some serious service outages occasionally, but every company encounters technical problems at some stage, so you can’t really hold that against them for long.
With all that said, the one question you have to ask yourself is why are they doing so badly? Certainly in the UK, the Blackberry is almost as popular among teenagers than the iPhone (from my experience), and I think that the Playbook’s sales are harsh on what is actually a good product (at least better than many Android tablets that have sold more than it).
It’s a bit of a mystery as far as I’m concerned, but I hope for the sake of the phone and tablet market that RIM doesn’t go down. It’s the only company who makes good products besides Apple, and we really don’t want to see Android gain any more market share.