I’ve been on a bit of a health kick these days. I am now up at the crack of dawn and going to the gym several times a week. It feels great actually to get the blood and endorphins going at 6am. It’s also a great way to get a preview of the financial markets for the day. As I was watching CNBC this morning, the host interviewed a financial analyst from RBC to talk about RIM’s disappointing earnings and quarterly outlook. You can see the interview here.
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There are so many flaws in this analyst’s opinion in my mind. He “thinks” there’s “kind of” room for a three horse race in the mobile space. I guess he hasn’t done much primary market research recently that shows that (at least in the enterprise) it’s still very much a four horse race. In his three horse race, he says that Windows MOBILE is still vying for that third spot. Please…..shoot me. Now mind you, I certainly understand that someone who is not in the mobility space would call it Windows Mobile, but isn’t this guy supposed to be an expert? He then says:
There’s kind of a jump ball for a third platform besides Android and Apple [....] But these results may make it less likely for RIMM to be the case…or it may not.
Well THAT was truly insightful! Today ladies and gentlemen, it MAY rain….or it MAY not. All I can say is really?? Really???
So let’s be clear. I’m NOT confused. ALL the momentum is with Android and iOS. The current BlackBerry platform is antiquated…just like Symbian. There’s an important difference though between RIM and Nokia. Nokia was convinced that it could continue with Symbian and Meego – that is until Stephen Elop came in and wrote his wonderful Burning Platform memo. Compare that to the fact that the folks at RIM went out and bought a new operating system QNX (pronounced Cue-Nicks not Q-N-X like the analyst said) and then bought The Astonishing Tribe – a highly regarded mobile UI shop – to make the QNX UI modern and hip. (Don’t forget they also bought Torch Mobile because they knew the native BB browser was horrible). We can see some of the TAT efforts on the PlayBook (which by the way surprised most analysts by selling 500k units in 1st quarter). Notice how I said some of TAT’s influence. The TAT acquisition took place well into the development of the PlayBook UI (which even in its current form is way better IMO than what the BB OS looks like). But TAT really only did the Calculator application and the Scrapbook. I can’t tell you how many people have LOVED those two apps and have even said “Wait….THIS comes from RIM? Really?”
RIM has its back against the wall. Market share is going down. The stock price is down over 50% in the last 12 months while Apple’s is up 20% (Nokia’s is down 33% in that same time). And now, worst of all, there are going to be layoffs, and that is NEVER a good thing for anyone. But is it dead? Come on. In my opinion, most financial analysts (and I stress most) can only see one, maybe two quarters out. That’s why Microsoft and Nokia are dead too in mobile.
Unlike Marcus Antonius, I come here today neither to praise RIM nor to bury it. Same goes for Windows Phone and Nokia. The much praised comedian Rodney Dangerfield had one very famous line: “No Respect! How come I get not respect around here?” That’s how I feel about RIM these days. This is a long term game and we should respect the major players and offer them the opportunity to show us what they’ve got. Apple was once “dead” and what did they do? They bought NeXT….OK, they bought Steve Jobs and HE revived the company, but how many Steve Jobs are there in this world? My dear friend and highly esteemed colleague Maribel Lopez also agrees that it’s not lights out in Waterloo. Nokia/Microsoft and RIM have very steep hills to climb and they need to move SIGNIFICANTLY faster than what they are doing today – there is no question of that – but the hyperbole and vitriol are way out of hand in my opinion.