Winning is a habit, unfortunately so is losing. And there’s no doubt that RIM’s got into the bad habit of losing regularly – unacceptable quarters, listless sales and trouble transitioning to BBX have all helped RIM’s reputation weaken over the last while. The trouble is that even as the odds seem stacked against RIM, the Waterloo-giant isn’t doing itself any favors by regularly missing key deadlines.
Earlier this month, RIM top honchos claimed that BlackBerry 10 would be a game changer for them in the mobile market. Just when one would expect the company to go all guns blazing on the BlackBerry 10 roll-out schedule, RIM has announced that it won’t start selling smartphones with its new BlackBerry 10 software platform until the “later part” of 2012.
RIM says the delay it out of its hands as the “highly integrated chipset” to be used in BlackBerry 10 phones would not be available until mid-2012. In more bad news, RIM also gave a sales and profit forecast that missed analysts’ estimates.
Time-to-market is a key aspect of smartphone launches and I’m afraid it might well turn out to be ‘Better never than late’ for RIM’s highly-anticipated BlackBerry 10 software platform.
In fact, RIM has a strong history of product delays. The current generation of BlackBerry 7 smartphones was delivered well behind schedule and the PlayBook schedule went awry after RIM was forced to recall 1,000 units due to a “faulty operating system.” The company says it wants to make sure BlackBerry 10 smartphones matches the “performance and battery life expectations of consumers’ and hence the delay. To make matters worse, RIM’s current lineup of devices – BlackBerry 7 devices have performed poorly and the company expects to sell just 11 million to 12 million smartphones in the weeks around Christmas.
While occasional delays are understandable, RIM’s habitual delays are a cause for concern. As several analysts have pointed out, delays can often diminish the overall market appeal of the device and in fact, there’s a huge risk of the ecosystem being abandoned by customers.
Shortly after RIM announced the delay in rollout of BlackBerry 10 platform, its shares shed more than 7 percent. FWIW, the company’s stock is already “market underperform” and has fallen 88 percent from its high of $148 three years ago.
In the meantime, RIM is asking investors and users for their ‘patience and confidence’.
“I want to reiterate our commitment to completing this challenging transition. We’ll leave no stone unturned when evaluating the business,” Lazaridis said. ““We wanted to make sure the product we launch in the U.S. has the performance and battery life expectations that consumers are going to be expecting.”
The company’s co-chief executives acknowledged that the delay in launching the new BlackBerrys may impact its financial results in the short term. Though they announced they would be reducing their own salaries to $1 per year, effective immediately, I think it’s a matter of time before RIM replaces the co-chief executive tandem of Mr. Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
Time is running out.