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article imageOp-Ed: RIM must return to innovation, cease imitation

By Justin Crann     Jun 17, 2011 in Business
Waterloo - For Mike Lazaridis, Jim Balsillie and their company, the Waterloo-based BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion, it's been a very rough first quarter.
RIM has been lambasted with bad news followed by more bad news. In January, the company lost its seat as one of the leaders in mobile phone sales globally. That news was followed by a drop in smartphone market share in the United States, where Apple's iPhone usurped its second-place seat.
And then came Apple's announcement that it was planning to release iMessage, a new application that would cut in to a portion of the market previously cornered by BlackBerry Messenger.
Slumping sales forced RIM to announce that layoffs are on their way and sparked concern amongst investors that drove them to sell off shares en masse, driving them to their lowest value in half a decade and causing many to call for the resignation of RIM's chief executives.
But a shuffle at the top of the ladder isn't going to fix RIM's primary issue, because the issue isn't with management. The company has been making many great moves to keep their existing products competitive, by addressing the areas where their products are weak and expanding sales markets.
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The issue for RIM is with development and innovation. Indeed, for the past year, the Canadian tech giant's corporate strategy seems to have been to copy whatever Apple was doing. First, Apple released it's trendy iPhone. RIM replied by releasing the BlackBerry Torch. Then, Apple broke in to the tablet PC market with its iPad. RIM's answer to that move was the PlayBook.
It's tough to win a corporate battle against an enemy that is as good at marketing as Apple has become. But it's even tougher to win that battle when all of your recent products seem to be cheaper knock-offs of those released by that enemy.
Research In Motion made their name by developing efficient technologies geared toward an audience primarily composed of businessmen and women. In this field, they innovated many useful products and applications, including BlackBerry Messenger.
Perhaps the pending 'big reset' is exactly what the company needs: a chance to step back, evaluate what worked and what didn't, and rediscover its ability to innovate.
Until it does, RIM can get used to its place near the back of the pack.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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