For some reason, I’ve a muzak version of “The Way We Were” going on in my head. Must be the fact that this week Thought examines RIM’s slow departure from the BlackBerry we’ve all come to know and love. Thank you, Thought.
With the new BlackBerry consumer line of products the most noticeable departures from the more traditional BlackBerries are surely the addition of the camera and the replacement of the beloved trackwheel with a trackball. Iâ€™ve commented on the subject of the camera; so letâ€™s look at the issue of the trackball and try to discern if this is a smart move or not on the part of RIM.
I must admit that I am a huge fan of the trackwheel, and so I personally find any change in this regard to be a bit hard to accept. My general philosophy is that if itâ€™s not broke, and indeed, works so elegantly, then why fix it?
However, the business strategy is not only sound, but may be both necessary and brilliant. To understand the general concept illustrated by RIMâ€™s decision, I will quote from the blog of the Australian Institute of Management:
Hanging on for too long to what has been successful in the past can be a company’s biggest mistake, according to IBM vice president of technical strategy and innovation Irving Wladawsky-Berger.
In a recent article ‘What Does an Innovative Company Look Like?’, he says established companies must be open to change and be willing to modify old habits.
Management must have a business strategy in place that allows for the introduction of new products and services and offers a formal way to retire older products and services. Quoting Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, Wladawsky-Berger refers to this as ‘creative destruction’.
One famous and successful example of this principle in practice involves Apple. When the iPod mini was the worldâ€™s best-selling MP3 player, only about 18 months after its introduction, Steve Jobs took the world by surprise and replaced it with the iPod nano. It was a great risk for Apple to kill off the most successful product in its market, and one that most corporations probably would not have taken. However, in doing so, Apple only gained an even more spectacular success.
In the ever-changing world of technology, it is almost a given that a better, more innovative product will come along to take the place of the market leaders. The key question any company with a successful product needs to ask is if they want to be the one that introduces that better product, or if they want to leave that job to their competitors. RIM, much to their credit, has given us their answer to this question.