CrackBerry addicts have sobered up, and moved on. Will RIM and BlackBerry disrupt themselves, or brush off the signs of trouble?

Clearly, the BlackBerry is going the way of the PalmPilot, the Motorola FlipPhone, and the slide-rule and the abacus.

Two years ago, BlackBerry owned 43% of the U.S. smartphone market. That number has dropped to 19% (according to ComScore) and will no doubt continue to fall. The company's stock price has fallen 70% since the beginning of this year, making the company worth less than the net value of its property, patents and other assets.

There are four contributing factors to this decline:

  1. Consumers who previously loved their BlackBerry's as a superior choice over regular phones now have options with other smartphone devices like the iPhone and Andorid devices.
  2. Corporate IT is loosing up it's control over communication security, and letting employees choose the device they use for communication (a stranglehold that BlackBerry used to own)
  3. Consumers have been beaten up by outages, and numerous product and software delays--all of which have contributed to a reputation of a not-cool, antiquated gadget. "I'm like that old lady driving an Oldsmobile in a parking lot when everyone else is driving BMWs," said Jesica Ryzenberg, 32, a BlackBerry owner in San Francisco.
  4. And finally, and most importantly, Research-in-Motion (the company that makes BlackBerry) failed to disrupt itself. It clung on to old technology, and the belief that their fans, those people who were so zealous that they called themselves CrackBerries would stick with the brand no matter what. but, "Clearly the market has moved on," said Chris Jones, principal analyst at research firm Canalys. "From applications to multimedia to the quality of the cameras to the quality of the browsing experience, it's lacking in all of those areas, plus more."

Apple is a prime example of a company who knows how to disrupt itself and move its customers with them. They've move us from the desktop, to the laptop, to the iPhone, to the iPad. But RIM executives don't seem to understand the need for disruption, and appear to be brushing off signs of trouble. They say BlackBerry continues to have a loyal customer base of 70 million subscribers, many of them professionals and young tech users, and point to a marketplace that has yet to be fully tapped: In the U.S., only 37% of cellphone users have a smartphone, said Rick Costanzo, regional managing director of RIM's Americas division. "We are in the very early, early stages of a huge global transition, and we have everything to play for. This game is far from over," he said. "Our challenge is to educate the marketplace."

Don't count on it.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

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