But RIM did nothing. Almost nothing. They were the healthiest competitor. They felt no pain from iPhoneâ€™s entry. The platform they had built was still growing and they were tweaking it constantly. There were always improvements to point to but fundamentally the code was limited. It was very difficult to adapt it to touch input and the first attempts at a touch UI were embarrassing. But there were no signs of a new platform that reflected the Unix-like competition.
The iPhone in 2007 and Android in 2008 forced Microsoft, Palm, and Nokia to scramble. Not RIM. RIM’s core customers were mostly enterprises. Microsoft, Palm, and Nokia had enough exposure to regular folks that when the iPhone and Android smartphones came on the market they felt it. The iPhone and Android smartphones have been slowly infiltrating the enterprise, not through massive corporate IT purchase agreements, but through individuals who want to use just one phone at home and at work.
I don’t think RIM is doomed. When it comes to smartphones RIM is more Apple like than even Apple. The hardware, BlackBerry OS, and data services are all managed by RIM. The most important competitive advantage is secure data services like email, which are encrypted and go through RIM controlled servers. That’s why RIM has been targeted by governments that desire the ability to intercept messages for reasons of national security. I put privacy at the top of the list of what’s important to me, so let’s hope RIM sticks around, does well, and more companies follow RIM’s footsteps in making our electronic communications secure especially from nosey, prying eyes.