And that's why RIM must find a way to partner or acquire with a company like Microsoft, and fast. The reason is simple: If Microsoft wants to have a foothold in the mobile space in the long term, which seems like a must for their software business, they must find a way to acquire a ton of customers that are considering a switch or may be forced to switch to RIM. That planning is happening now at many companies, and the Bring Your Own Device mantra is just one side-effect of this planning process. In the absence of a plan, people bring their own device. Microsoft is waiting patiently for that suitor. They are waiting to strike, like they always do.
The enterprise won't wholesale switch to Apple iPhone and iPads. Apple doesn't sell to enterprises and all their previous attempts have failed (A/UX, X Server, DAL, etc etc). There is nothing to indicate that this will change any time soon. Sure there are small and medium sized companies who adapt the iPhone, but that happened with Macs in the 80s and 90s, and they are back using Windows now. Apple is a consumer electronics company, not a business company. Companies adapt iPhone because their employees subsidize this effort.
RIM though is an enterprise company. I contend that their lunch has been eaten by Android, not iPhone. And that's because they squarely lost focus and decided to chase the money in consumer sales in the US (failing) and internationally(seemingly winning). These charts by Dan Frommer at SplatF indicates that very clearly:
It's easy to say that iPhone killed RIM, but that is just a coincidence. Everyone bought smartphones in 2007-2011 and now almost 70% of phones bought are smartphones. The truth is that RIM entered the consumer market in a big way across the world, and they still claim that this is the reason for their growth. Sure it is, especially internationally. But this is a low margin market for anyone BUT Apple. You can't make up in volume in a market where people are getting your device practically for free. The Blackberry sips data too, and the telecoms want to sell big data plans. So even there, the Blackberry becomes the only feature phone among the smart phone manufacturers. That feature is BBM, and the Blackberry is at the bottom of the heap. Even android with its weird interface wins out when consumers look to the next big thing and the charts show that.
There is one clear saviour for the company -- it's strength is in the enterprise. Apple's strength was in simplicity of design, Steve Jobs cut all the models of Macs when he came on board and consumerized IT with the iPod and iPhone. Now RIM needs to take their strength back again and leverage their QNX acquisition and show the world just how terrific their toolsets are in the enterprise.
This can only be done by strong partnerships with a company like Microsoft. They must focus on products spaces beyond email communication. RIM must look at Microsoft Dynamics integration (the current mobile offering on CRM2011 pales in comparison to what salesforce.com is doing in mobile). RIM must talk to the enterprise and introduce features that make sense to procurement, billing, system management. Above all they must encourage their ecosystem to write compelling enterprise frameworks and integrations. Need for Speed HD should not be the leading demo when you show launch a Playbook.
RIM must make itself an attractive acquisition target now. Noone will buy them the way they are right now, all over the place. It's like a wedding -- even the ugliest bride can get all dolled up for the big day. RIM, it's time to get married and you need to look your best for the big day.