Better watch your back RIM. Apple and Google are close behind

by Jeff Wiener on October 20, 2009

3 way race Apple RIM GoogleTimes are going to get interesting. Or maybe I should say, times are already interesting.

The once mighty king of the Smartphone has some much mightier competition these days. It looks like the market once dominated by RIM now has 2 other MASSIVE companies looking to get into, or increase their market position, and both are industry titans. It’s now a 3 way race and RIM’s changes aren’t looking great.

It wasn’t that long ago that RIM’s major competitors were not other Smartphone manufacturers but cell phone manufacturers with some email capabilities. Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Siemens … they all made Smartphones, but there was only ONE RIM. If you took business email on your handheld seriously there was only one place to turn. Your needed corporate email – you purchased a Blackberry Exchange Server (BES).

This market was RIM’s to lose. And then in rapid succession Apple introduces the iPhone, and Google introduces Android. This one-two punch is much mightier then the Microsoft / Palm punch RIM competed with a few years ago.


Apple understands and has redefined consumer electronics. Google understands software, the Internet, and cloud computing. Unfortunately for Microsoft they understood both but seemed to have missed the market with their handheld OS. It’s almost as if Windows Mobile was an afterthought.

At first Apple’s iPhone was really a consumer toy with email capability. Then iPhone 3G release 2 was introduced to the market with better, but not perfect email capability. The iPhone is a beautiful piece of technology and next to Intel’s first microprocessor, the Apple iPhone will go down in the technology history books as one of the finest game changing pieces of technology this generation has witnessed.

Have you played with an iPhone ?

It truly is a technology masterpiece. Apple understands consumer electronics at a level way beyond smart phones. It’s embedded in their culture. And now the lines between work email, and consumer electronic device have become blurred. Apple has done that.

And then there’s Google’s Android. Google’s OS is still in its infancy stage, but, given it’s open source nature, very early adoption by some very large handheld manufacturers, and rapid consumer acceptance, it seems to have, in very short order, outpaced Microsoft and is in contention from a technology perspective to compete with Apple and RIM. True, it’s still early for Google, but the wind is at their back. And according to Schmidt, Google’s CEO, “Android adoption is set to explode”.

So where does this leave RIM ?

Unfortunately, not in a great position.

Why do I care ?

Because I am a passionate Canadian that cares about the Canadian technology landscape. 10 years ago Nortel was Canada’s number ONE technology leader. And now, they’re gone. Today RIM is the number ONE tech company in Canada, and they’re in a very precarious position. Yes, they understand corporate email, but, I’m afraid that unless RIM starts to understand the consumer market they will lose ground quickly to Apple and Google. RIM needs to understand the consumer market faster then Apple is starting to understand the corporate email market.

You see, both Google and Apple have other web and tech pieces that marry the technologies into a homogeneous technology experience. RIM is missing those other pieces. Apple has the MAC and iTunes, and Google has – I don’t even need to explain.

RIM needs to find the next game changing paradigm shift in technology and incorporate that into their brand.

And soon.

I don’t know what that might be but I certainly hope that RIM does. Otherwise, and I hate to say this, RIM might find themselves in Nortel’s position.

Written by: Jeff Wiener. Follow by: RSS, Twitter,, or Friendfeed

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October 22, 2009 at 2:42 am

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Ernie October 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

The fact that I had to pull the battery out of my Blackberry about six times in the past seven days has already prompted me to go shopping for an iPhone. The capabilities of the iPhone goes over and beyond the Blackberry, and recently has become quite affordable – aside from the hefty data package that I’ll need :S

Joel October 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I too am of the opinion that RIM may one day (hopefully much more later then sooner) will head in the direction of the Nortel’s and Corel’s, and to an extent, even the ATI’s of our Canadian landscape.

I myself use a Blackberry and cannot fathom functioning without one. Even President Obama carries a piece of Canada on his belt every day. He too uses a RIM product. With all the “buy American” talk all over the place, the longer Mr. Obama can keep his piece of Canada strapped to his waist, the better it looks on us Canucks.

Please Mr. Balsillie, maybe you can concentrate more on your core business, and a little less on trying to procure sports teams.

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