I wonder what this means for the communications jobs RIM has been advertising…
Actually, that’s colder than I feel about the news that Research In Motion is planning to lay off a third of its workforce. I’m not a BlackBerry addict, but I think there are a couple of things here that relate to my situation.
First, while BlackBerry is still the Cadillac of smartphones, it is facing increasing competition from devices which may not offer the same level of business security but which have a host of other features that they provide better than BlackBerry can. So if you’re going to just have one smartphone, you go with the one that serves your needs most fully.
Second, while RIM has attempted to reply to this growing competition, it has turned out to be a slow-moving ship, relying far too heavily on its past sucesses and reputation and not moving quickly enough to address the challenges posed by far more flexible organizations.
(RIM is a far smaller company than Apple, and is one of its biggest competitors. That’s not nuthin’. The product is good, never forget that. It’s consumers and shareholders who keep demanding newer and better, like rats in a lab, conditioned to press the bar that provides the new treat, even if they’re not hungry.)
I can’t help but compare RIM’s plight to that of the newspaper industry. Like the Waterloo, Ont., company, newspapers are facing increasing competition — from the 24-hour news channels; from the Internet, and it has been slow to respond to the changes brought by and challenges posed by its competitors. The response, however, has been the same: layoffs, redesign of the mousetrap using the same materials, more layoffs. As RIM discovered, those knee-jerk responses don’t fix the intrinsic problem: people are no longer particularly interested in what it’s selling. It’ll take a more profound redesign than changing the position of the keyboard — or the font on the front page — to bring clients back. I hope both RIM and the newspaper industry can do that before they disappear altogether.