Friday, January 30, 2009
The BlackBerry Storm: Dark Past, Sunny Future
Since the Blackberry Storm's release, uproar has been made about the glitches, marketing expense, and "lack" of sales at a cool 500,000 units in its first month. In the latest Tech Ticker, Om Malik came out and slammed Research in Motion for "forgetting to play to its strengths" and leaving its traditional key board behind for a touch screen. What most critics forget, including Malik, is the absolute necessity of entering the smart phone marketplace as more and more Gen Y use smart phone technology.
I can imagine some of you scoff, "Ha. Gen Y doesn't use and can't afford iPhones or BlackBerries." Nine months ago, I spoke with a product manager for Nike who told me the newest trend among high school girls was using a BlackBerry to stay in touch with your friends. Do you think the launch of the iPhone changed the concept of "cool" in local high schools from the BlackBerry to the iPhone? Or were the 1.9 million activations of the iPhone in Q4 exclusively of people 30 and up? For that matter, will the smart phone market decrease over the next few years? Please.
The fact of the matter is the smart phone is the next generation of technology embraced by the next generation of white-collar labor in this country. Foolish companies are staying out of the marketplace. Intelligent ones, including Research in Motion, will make the leap into smart phone technology because they recognize the present and future value of mastering this technology. Just because one firm owns 25% of the playground and has first mover advantage doesn't mean no other kids can come to play. It doesn't mean they'll get it right or everything will go perfectly, but Research in Motion is far ahead of Dell or the countless other firms who want to join (or will be forced to join) the smart phone race.
Long ago, Walgreen's used to serve food. At a board meeting, Walgreen's CEO gave them a five-year deadline to totally exit this segment of their business to focus on its less profitable operations. The result? Walgreen's decision to leave its most profitable business to a weaker area earned it a spot in the business management Bible Good to Great because it worked and they succeeded. If Mr. Malik and the critics of Research in Motion ran Walgreen's? Well, I'm sure we'd have to go elsewhere to get our prescriptions filled.
Good job, Research in Motion; I'll probably still buy an iPhone, but I think you're on the right track.