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BlackBerry in 2012: More trouble in store for RIM

Al Sacco | Dec. 15, 2011
The year 2012 promises to be an interesting one for BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM).

BlackBerry PlayBook Enhancements: Too Little, Too Late

RIM will also release a new, updated version of its PlayBook OS, v 2.0, with native PIM applications and an Android Player that will let PlayBook users run certain Android apps.

But I can't help feeling somewhat underwhelmed, maybe even a bit resentful, because RIM promised all of these features and functionality months ago and hasn't yet delivered. Nor has it shipped a cellular version of the PlayBook--the current version is Wi-Fi only--even though it said such a tablet would become available in summer 2011. I bet I'm not the only PlayBook owner who feels disappointed. These new PlayBook features and enhancements will likely prove to be too little, too late for many tablet users.

Then there's RIM's stock price, which just this week hit a 52-week low.

All of these things do not bode well for RIM in 2012.

Hanging on in the Enterprise and Outside North America

I do think that RIM will maintain and even possibly strengthen its foothold in areas outside of North America. (It's clear RIM is still quite popular in many locales outside of the United States and Canada, just look what happened when RIM recently decided to launch and discount a brand new BlackBerry at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Pure chaos.) But RIM is facing a serious challenge in regaining consumer confidence in North America, a key market, and I'm not sure BlackBerry 10 or the new PlayBook OS will prove to be the solution to this problem.

On the enterprise side, RIM still has a solid grip on the business smartphone and mobile infrastructure market, but it is rapidly losing strength. That's due to the influx of non-BlackBerry devices that users are bringing into the enterprise and asking IT to support. Supporting only BlackBerry devices is really no longer an option for most IT shops; iOS and Android are entering the enterprise, like it or not.

RIM has announced a new enterprise mobility offering, called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, which will allow IT to use RIM software to manage not just BlackBerrys, but also iOS and Android devices. But this could have an unintended effect on RIM: With users choosing iPhone and Android devices over BlackBerrys, and so many companies now rushing to iOS and Android security and management products to market--including RIM--why should IT purchase any more BlackBerry handhelds?

In summary, 2012 to be another difficult year for RIM and BlackBerry, and if the company isn't able to at least turn things around a bit in the coming year, I could very well be sounding the death knoll for BlackBerry right around this time next year.


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