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article imageOp-Ed: RIM's latest development a shallow concession, not a clever ploy

By Justin Crann     Nov 29, 2011 in Business
Waterloo - Waterloo-based smartphone developer Research in Motion (RIM) has seen its share value increase after announcing a new server that will support both BlackBerry and competing devices.
The server platform, named BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, will enable corporations and government institutions to integrate Android and iPhone devices owned by their employees into an existing network, allowing them to access company e-mail and data from their own devices, according to an AFP report.
While the move seems, on the surface, to be a clever business venture for a corporation that is struggling to maintain its position in the smartphone market, it may be little more than a concession that the company's smartphone and tablet divisions simply aren't performing as well as planned.
RIM's ongoing struggle to remain competitive has been well-documented. On Friday, RIM's stocks hit a seven-year low, piggybacked by a global software glitch, and signalling an underwhelming response to the announcement of a pending — much-needed — OS update.
Devices powered by Google's Android OS currently boast a commanding 52 per cent share of the global sales market, while RIM lost four per cent of its share in the third quarter and is mired in fifth place overall.
All of these issues do not a successful corporation make, and speculation about splitting the company's handset and network departments into two separate companies began as early as this past summer. Others have been proselytizing the company's doom.
This latest manoeuvre by the Canadian corporation could be seen as a move toward the former, as RIM is clearly relying on the network end of the business to keep investors sated during the long wait for new software and smartphone devices. And RIM's announcement of a server platform could be seen as clever. It's certainly a unique idea in an industry within which innovation is becoming increasingly difficult.
Admittedly, the development of software-side products that will allow corporations to integrate all devices — even competing ones — is an ingenius way to steal a slice of the server market pie, while maintaining the company's traditional business and government base. But it is not a suitable remedy to what ails the Canadian tech giant, and it won't result in a larger market share for the company.
RIM's issue remains the same: it struggles to innovate, in any meaningful way, in an increasingly competitive market. While RIM executives hold their breath for the manufacturer's next-generation OS and new line of BlackBerry devices, investors and financial advisors are quickly heading out the door.
In the meanwhile, if the best the company can do to remain competitive is develop third-party software for their competitors's devices — essentially all but admitting defeat — perhaps it would be prudent for them to save everyone's time and simply listen to the doomsayers.
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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