What RIM should really be whining about

In a New York Times interview last week, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has called out financial analysts and media pundits for their negative sentiment on the BlackBerry brand.

“Why is it that people don’t appreciate our profits,” Lazaridis asked. “Why is it that people don’t appreciate our growth? Why is it that people don’t appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global? Why is it that people don’t appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?”

The smart phone maker’s other CEO, Jim Balsillie, also reacted to the growing sea of BlackBerry haters. “No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform,” he said, adding that the move is almost never done and is way harder than many people realize.

The transition RIM is referring to is the move toward the tablet market. But I’d view this as the move toward an increasing focus on the consumer market away from the enterprise market.

That shift has actually been occurring for years now and included some sub-par releases such as the BlackBerry Storm and Torch phones. These unsuccessful forays into the touch screen market, plus the delayed arrival of the Waterloo, Ont. company’s tablet offering, has rightly painted RIM as a “me too” vendor.

All the hard numbers show that RIM is growing far slower than Android and iOS in the smart phone market, but more than that, developers have largely stayed away from the platform.

I’ve wrote this before, but it’s worth repeating. Going forward, a mobile device company is only going to go as far as its developer community.

Apple was able to take over the tablet market because its developer community was making a ton of killer apps that needed more screen real estate. It’s a pretty bad sign for RIM’s PlayBook when one of the selling points is that the device can run Android apps.

So instead of asking why people don’t appreciate what it’s done in the past, RIM’s leaders need to start asking why developers are still staying away.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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