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This syndicated post originally appeared at Yankee Group Blog » Zeus Kerravala.

RIM held its annual “BlackBerry World” conference recently in Orlando and while I didn’t attend the event live, I did have the opportunity to interview a number of people that did and followed the news with great interest.  The messages from RIM since new CEO Thorsten Heins has take the reins have been decidedly enterprise-focused, which makes sense given RIM’s roots. 

However, I do wonder if the tipping point has passed and the demise of RIM is now a fait accompli.  RIM is promising to refocus on the enterprise buyer but does the enterprise buyer really want RIM any more? One of the interesting points that I’ve picked up from the interviews is that, RIM’s last holdout of support, corporate IT, isn’t happy with the company any more.

The primary reasons for this pushback seem to revolve around service and product quality.  The BlackBerrys, from RIM, had a reputation as being rock-solid devices that were almost unbreakable.  I started using one in 1999 (one of the little 4-line ones on the BellSouth IPS network) and I must have dropped that thing hundreds of times and it always worked.  I had started to use the device for notification of network outages through e-mail alerts and its quality was a big reason why.  Through the years, there have been many BlackBerrys that I wouldn’t exactly put in the “sexy” category, but they work.  The original Curve comes to mind as the epitome of what I’m talking about.  I had one of those too and the case was cracked in a few places, I had to replace the trackball a couple of times but it worked. 

Over the past few years RIM has had a strong desire to push into the lucrative consumer market and many IT people I have interviewed believe this has distracted the company and sent it down a track that derailed it from the one that made it so successful.  It seems that the devices break more often and the battery life isn’t near what it once was, driving up the number of help desk calls that IT needs to deal with.  Couple this with some horrific service outages and many are ready to pull the plug on RIM.  In fact, one CTO I spoke with at a recent trade show said “They (RIM) can’t go away fast enough as far as I’m concerned”. 

Now, I understand the basis of my blog is anecdotal interviews and not actual survey data, but there are definite chinks in the once-impenetrable RIM armor.  So it’s great that RIM is re-focusing on the enterprise buyer, but I do believe the age-old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” applies here.  It may be too late, but delivering on what it promises to corporate IT is an absolute must for RIM.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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