Everyone and his dog has now opined on how RIM – maker of Blackberry mobile phones, once standard accessory with power suits – can reverse its current death march. Abandon the quaint co-CEO setup. Run Windows Phone OS. So on. The suggestions are plenty. And now there is talk of acquisition.
Better, I think, Michael Dell’s advice to Apple: return the cash to shareholders (RIM was recently trading below its book value!), give employees a good severance package (that’s me, not Dell), and let it sink to rest for it was never meant to float. For RIM was built on two premises, both false.
People in suits need 24/7 email access
The geniuses on the management track who likely thought the Internet was a trainee doctor up until 1999, suddenly discovered that they could exchange Powerpoint presentations faster over a network. And Powerpoint presentations of course are life and death matters the barter of which can brook no downtime. A dedicated network at high cost was just the right thing to go with their Amex Gold Card and inflated self-image.
But, as RIM is now discovering, they make for fickle fanboys.
User experience is for unserious people
Deep in MegaCorp jungle lives the [mythical] dinosaur called the Enterprise User, a most serious beast that shares none of the aesthetic frivolities of its distant evolutionary cousin, the Consumer. Usability, while a staple of the Consumer, is poison to the Enterprise User which needs to be kept on a diet of tiny hardware keyboards and tinier screens.
When this myth exploded with the arrival of the iPhone, RIM lived up to this “user experience = unserious” axiom by responding with their idea of user friendliness: exchangeable colour backplates.
Since most media pundits believe in these premises as well, there is much puzzlement and attempts at resolving the puzzle. All for naught. The numbers are in free fall. The suitors are reluctant. Stop sticking a fork in it. It’s done.