Wired recently published an article entitled “5 Things RIM Needs to Fix in its BlackBerries[sic].” The article is a great read, but I’d like to address a few issues with what Wired thinks RIM needs to improve.
The article goes on to highlight the following 5 areas where RIM needs to improve:
- App Store
- Desktop Software
Overall, I’m going to wholeheartedly agree with the list. RIM can always be improving every aspect of the BlackBerry platform and the company has plans that extend well beyond our current gripes.
Generally, the article missed out on explaining how RIM came to lack the features requested in the article, and how they must go about improving the situation.
It’s always important to note that the BlackBerry platform wasn’t founded on being a consumer device. RIM fell into the consumer market almost by accident. As more consumers adopt the device, the company is now faced with satisfying two, almost mutually exclusive markets.
Take for example the browser; highlighted in the article as being something sub-par and needing improvement. You can’t disagree with this but again, why are we here? The BlackBerry platform has always been focused on delivering totally secure communication for enterprise, and the browser was secondary to this focus. While it’s possible to update this browser and offer more functionality such as the ability to download files from the browser, there is a lot to take into consideration, not just the user experience. With each feature addition, you have to asses the security risks associated with said feature because it’s paramount to the brand.
The same argument applies to many of the other items on the list. App World, the touchscreen interface and the desktop software are all features of the BlackBerry platform that are lacking from a consumer perspective. But again, we’re moving from enterprise to consumers and the enterprise is still the most important market. Do you think government organizations with 50,000+ BlackBerry devices and an IT administration department controlling device policies care about a multitouch Storm? No, they care about a secure smartphone platform, and in this respect RIM is the best in the industry.
Another issue the article mentions is WiFi. The author asks: “why doesn’t the company have Wi-Fi in all its devices?” While there are probably a lot of reasons why, two come to mind and I’m surprised the author didn’t point them out.
1) Price: Offering WiFi significantly changes the price point of a device and RIM needs to be able to offer a wide range of prices to satisfy various markets. This is why the Curve is the number 1 selling smartphone in North America. The device comes in many iterations with varying prices for every type of user.
2) Carrier relations: When the user is on WiFi they aren’t burning through data and when they aren’t burning through data they aren’t spending more money. There are clearly deals going on at the executive level to stop certain devices from having WiFi because it’s good business for the carrier. You have to play ball with the carriers to get your product out there.
Overall, the article was great but writers are quick to forget where RIM is coming from, and where their allegiance lies. The consumer market is new to them and rest assured they’re getting there, but enterprise is what made this product great and they aren’t about to compromise the founding principles of the platform.