Yesterday’s financial reports from RIMS, manufacturer of Blackberry devices wasn’t pretty. The Canadian technology company missed its earnings projections by a lot. Probably more importantly, its immediate future is unclear and the company plans to lay off thousands of employees as it ponders its next move to compete in the ever competitive mobile device marketplace. Based on my recent experience, I can’t say that I’m surprised.
I am far from an expert on this type of technology, or the latest products that have emerged. Like many business professionals, I listen to the advice of my company’s IT professionals and often try the latest product based on what they recommend and some of the hype that other technology leaders create. As a matter of fact, I’d probably consider myself to be the opposite of an early adopter of new technologies. Instead, I just want a product that will serve its basic functions for me well. And, if I can have the added benefits of some new, cool bells and whistles, then I’m one happy customer.
Peppercom has always been a Blackberry loyal company. Because on our client serving needs, we thrive on immediate email on a 24/7 basis and from a business standpoint and the easy to type keyboards work well with our style. Each and every new model has been accepted enthusiastically by our professionals. Then in trying to break into Apple’s ownership of the lucrative consumer iPhone market, RIMS finally released the Torch late last year. From what I’ve read (and understand), this product was released very quickly so that RIMS could showcase its newest foray into the consumer marketplace. Our IT professionals were a little weary of recommending it. But, because Blackberry has such a proven track record with creating high quality products for professional audiences, they suggested I try it to find out if it could work for me.
At first, I really enjoyed the product and experience I was having. That’s because the Torch tries to integrate the best of both worlds– the touch screen and ability to maneuver very quickly through many apps and files (like the iPhone), with a real key board that is pretty easy to type on (a critical part of the Blackberry experience). Unfortunately, that experience only lasted two days though, because all of a sudden, half my emails only came through in bits and pieces. They were unintelligible and that created immediate problems for obvious reasons. As this continued, I found that the system actually became sluggish and it took quite a bit of time for some applications to open after I clicked on the icon.
To make a long story short, our IT whizzes spend hours on the phone with Blackberry trying to fix the email problem. It seems that countless other customers were also experiencing this frustrating problem. What really surprised me (though) is that the RIMS gurus had no idea how to fix it. That just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. After reading through numerous tech blogs on the topic and interviewing Peppercom’s IT professionals, it seems that one truism exists. RIMS was in such a hurry to enter the consumer market that the company didn’t create products that actually worked (or that they knew could work). The consumer experience failed and now we are seeing just how bad the fall out is (and will continue to be) for this once proud technology leader.
For me, well…I returned my Torch and actually decided to try an iPhone instead. So far, so good. I like it mainly due to most of those features that the Torch promised (but didn’t deliver on) are being realized with this product. The bad news for RIMS is that Blackberry loyalists (like me) will now think twice before using one of their new products in the future. Maybe more importantly, those in the know (like our IT professionals) feel much of the same. Deivis Baez, our Director of IT actually told me, “I feel let down because RIMS had plenty of time to come out with the right operating system for this product. Its failure to do quality control prior to launching is a real failure.”
Companies that are extending their brands into new areas need to understand that getting their first product launch right is so critical to ensuring that trust and confidence in their brand continue. The Blackberry failed to do this and its reputation has soured because of it.