IDC Viewpoint: RIM, Consumers and the Enterprise
Top Line: RIM announces a re-focus on the enterprise - but if that means less focus on consumers that could be bad for business customers too
We suspected that Heins's comments about the consumer market were misinterpreted. And, indeed, subsequent clarifications issued by RIM suggest that he media claims that it will withdraw from the consumer market are misleading.
Bottom Line for ICT Buyers:
1. It clearly makes sense for RIM to re-focus its efforts on its core strengths, and on its enterprise customer base. However, in our view, it would be a mistake for RIM to lose sight of the consumer market as a consequence of that re-focus. Superficially, the idea of pulling back from consumers in order to re-focus on enterprise might seem to make some sense. But once you examine this closely, you realize that this is problematic. What would it mean in practice, to "pull back from the consumer market"? Stop selling Blackberries through mobile operators? That would be suicidal. Kill BBM? It would seem perverse for RIM to kill its only recent offering that has been an unqualified success. Kill App World? Given that the range of apps available for a device is one of that device's principal selling points, that would be risky, to say the least.
2. In fact, to "pull back from consumer" looks illogical when you think about it. The major trend in enterprise procurement today is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or, to use its rather instructive shorthand name, "consumerization". Rather than the enterprise centrally selecting and buying devices, enterprise employees select and buy their own devices, and enterprises make them work with corporate systems. It would be a strategic error for RIM to start relying on central purchasers to buy its devices at exactly the time that central device buying commences a long-term decline. And if RIM did make that mistake, it would be an especially ironic one. After all, the Blackberry's success was founded partly on early BYOD: powerful corporate executives bringing in their new Blackberry, giving it to the IT guys and saying: "make it work".
3. We therefore do not think that RIM should or will abandon the consumer market. But RIM evidently has some sort of significant shift in mind, and enterprises - particularly those embracing consumerization - should press RIM for clarity on this issue.
IDC Central Europe GmbH
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