RIM’s fortunes have declined significantly in the past two years, but it is on the cusp of a major upgrade to its operating system, which it hopes will bring back the glory days. However, the new operating system is likely to appeal largely to a dwindling base of existing BlackBerry users, and will provide only a brief respite in an overall downward trend.
RIM has the enviable position of being one of only two significant vertically integrated players in this space, but this advantage exists mostly on paper, as RIM has squandered its early lead over the last few years, failing to keep up with competitors on the things consumers care about most, and focusing instead on its appeal to a dwindling base of enterprises and enterprise end users buying devices for business use.
RIM’s expansion into multi-platform device management with its Ubitexx acquisition and subsequent release of BlackBerry Fusion is an important sign that it sees the writing on the wall. However, for devices other than BlackBerry, the platform is sub-par compared with competitors, and in many cases companies are moving away from BlackBerry entirely, not mixing it with other device platforms, which will limit the appeal of Fusion.
BlackBerry 10 should lead to a short-term boost in performance, as many of its subscribers upgrade to the latest operating system in 2013. But this boost will be short lived, and will only temporarily offset the underlying negative trends affecting RIM’s performance. The shift to BYOD and other consumer-centric enterprise mobility programs, and RIM’s failure to appeal to the personal side of users, will cause a continued decline in its financial and operating performance in the coming years.
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