Science opinion

Research In Motion, the creator of the BlackBerry, has been struggling to find relevance in the technology and smartphone markets during 2011.

It’s a shame, as RIM is a bastion Canadian blue-chip — and it would be a blow to Canadian industry and education if it went away. While other problems exacerbated the BlackBerry’s position, ultimately the event that hurt most was the loss of its market share. Before the iPhone, Android and Windows 7 Phones, the BlackBerry enjoyed market dominance in the smartphone category. A lot of casual observers, myself included, thought they were doing OK. When the network outage hit in October, media outlets everywhere began to comment on the decline of the company. It was shocking to turn on the news and listen to analysts comment on the company’s decline
Eventually attacks came from all sides:

India wanted access to Blackberry user data which RIM reluctantly agreed to. Soon after RIM met those demands, India wanted access to RIM’s corporate service information. RIM finally balked at this demand and currently the situation has not been resolved.

BBX was to be the name of the upcoming Blackberry OS, but an Albuquerque, NM company had already been using the name for years. Embarrassingly, RIM was forced to change the upcoming name from BBX to “Blackberry 10.” This issue might sound trivial to some, but when you are trying to rejuvenate your brand, the last thing you want is your new exciting title to be taken away from you.

The smartphone decline damaged RIM’s shares, but the BlackBerry Playbook’s failure to sell left them in tatters. The product met with mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. The Playbook was intended to be RIM’s answer to the iPad, but instead, in conjunction with a service disruption in October, it cost them greatly.

Research In Motion watchers had hoped the new BlackBerry phone would reverse the financial losses, but instead of releasing the product in the beginning of 2012, RIM announced that the new handsets will be on shelves in the second half of 2012, thus RIM will sit fallow for precious months before the consumer market can decide to purchase the new phone and potentially rejuvenate the company.

From a Canadian perspective, Research In Motion’s collapse would be a shame as the company has given so much to Canadian technological growth and education; RIM has a close relationship with the University of Waterloo and has encouraged technological research and growth in the surrounding community. While a complete collapse would not destroy Waterloo’s technology sector, it would severely hamper it. Canadian industry would be a dealt huge blow if that were to happen.

Here’s to hoping RIM will reverse its fortunes in 2012.