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Nokia heading for its “Kodak-moment”

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Nokia’s recent earnings release has been dismal. The worldwide recession is hurting the industry in general and Nokia in particular. It’s market share has gone down from 40% a year ago to 37% in Q1 2009. This trend is continuing for past several quarters and it is my belief that Nokia is headed for its “Kodak moment”.

Remember way back in 2006, the digital camera revolution was in its infancy and a ton of competitors from Sony to Fuji to HP were producing digital cameras. However, Kodak was the king of cameras, selling the most cameras in US and winning awards for its products. “Really!”, you say. “Wait, I don’t remember that!”, you say. It is sad but true. Kodak was still considered a film company despite having invented the 1st Megapixel camera, won awards for its product design and had the biggest market share. But, it was struggling to become a leader in digital camera. Its business model was failing.

Now, fast forward to today. Nokia is the market leader worldwide, its products win awards too and it basically ruled the market (though did not invent the mobile phone) for a long time and there are a bunch of upstarts that are eating away at its market share. All the while, Nokia is struggling to keep its place. It has not recognize the challenge RIM & Apple pose, it has been slow to innovate and has failed to recognize the shifting consumer tastes. 

As Bruce Nussbaum suggested in this 2006 blog post, Nokia, like Kodak, needs a business model innovation. Its device strategy is not working and needs overhaul, RIM & Apple are eating its lunch with smartphones, the next baseline phones. Nokia smartphones have not outshined the competition, even HTC, LG & Samsung have better, more popular offerings that are doing better than Nokia.

How does Nokia change its strategy? First, it needs mid-market smartphones to compete with HTC, LG & Samsung. Second, it needs to overhaul its flagship N series and the E series to be at the leading edge to compete with Apple & RIM. It should take a leaf out of Palm playbook and design a new device that not only improves upon the rival’s offering, but has that extra special feature that the world wants. Third, it is time to dump Symbian from its smartphone lineup. Symbian has its place in the mid-to-low market phones, but it is not upto snuff on the top-line smartphones. The user experience is just not there. Good news is that Nokia has several options on this front: – Design a new user interface from ground-up to sit on top of Symbian much like LG S-class. Or get on the Palm’s WebOS or Android bandwagon or do incremental improvement on Symbian. This last option just maintains the status quo and does nothing dramatic. Finally, it needs to take the battle to the competitor on their home-turf, ie. US. Nokia has not been successful in the past. However, it needs to try again or go down fighting.

This is probably the last chance Nokia has to avoid its Kodak “moment”. So, will Nokia change the game plan or will the game change Nokia?

Written by dvdand

July 22, 2009 at 5:55 am

RIM launches Blackberry Social Networking site – MyBlackberry

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RIM today launched a social networking site to discuss all things Blackberry. Titled MyBlackberry, the site is discussion-based where users can share information, vent on frustration of using BB, review or discuss new features, etc. As a Blackberry owner, I am excited to be able to connect to other like-minded persons. Lets see how useful and relevant it remains over time.

Written by dvdand

July 14, 2009 at 8:28 am

What is your mobile platform strategy?

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In the beginning there was the PalmOS mobile platform, and then there was Symbian, then Windows Mobile and RIM’s Blackberry OS. Then came the juggernaut iPhone OS from Apple. That was followed by Android from Google. Soon Palm will launch another mobile platform called the WebOS. All these different platforms lead to a question: How many mobile platforms can your company support?


That is just the operating systems. Already the mobile industry is fragmented with dozens of smartphone manufacturers.  Add in the different features of the handsets themselves, like accelerometer, GPS, camera, etc, and you have a whole matrix of feature sets that need to be accounted for. 


It is amazing how often entrepreneurs and product managers at smaller companies have said to me that this is their strategy. Then I ask them how soon they will be on all these platforms and I get a vague answer of as soon as we can. Given this situation, how long can companies justify developing products for all platforms?


Companies really need to evaluate their strategy against their resources. Building and supporting products on multiple platforms is costly and labor intensive process, just ask all those who build and support PC and Mac products. The complexity increases multiple-fold in the smartphone space. As an entrepreneur or product manager, you don’t have the time to wait until the product has been tested on all the platforms. You need to be out in the market before your competition.


Considering the limited funding and resources, you have to decide on one or two “hero” platforms as Tim Westergren, founder of the popular Pandora music service calls them. He has decided that iPhone is the “hero” platform they will focus on and when WebOS from Palm is available, that will be its second “hero” platform.


There are definite benefits in this strategy: You can develop a product that leverages the various features of that platform. You are able to conserve your resources by developing on few platforms. You can become the “best-in-class” on the specific platforms.


On the flip side, though, you have to weigh how successful are your target platforms going to be. iPhone has done phenomenally well and therefore could be a no-brainer for a lot of us. However, if you were targeting say Android or even the much-anticipated WebOS from Palm, you just have to look back at all those folks who jumped on the PalmOS bandwagon and decide if the rewards outweigh the risk and what is the likelihood of the platform surviving a few years.


Once you have decided on the platforms, like all good strategists, keep evaluating them and your strategy. Tim Westergren did not embark on his strategy right from the get-go. In fact, for two years Pandora was available on AT&T and Verizon Wireless’ application stores where it languished. Only when iPhone came along and Tim decided to launch his product on that platform did he found success.

Verizon Wireless to launch netbooks and Blackberry Niagara

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blackberryniagraRumors has it that Verizon Wireless is going to launch netbooks starting May 1st . They will begin with the 10-inches, HP Mini which will retail for $99 with  2-year contract and broadband access. In addition, VZW will launch the Blackberry Niagara, which in terms of form factor falls between Curve and Bold. It comes with OS 4.6 and following specs:

  • “Large screen family”
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • 480×360 LCD
  • EV-DO Rev. A
  • aGPS
  • 3.2 megapixel camera
  • 4.7 OS platform
  • BES 5.0 support (HTML email, etc)
  • Qualcomm MSM7600 processor
  • [Via Boy Genius Report]

    Written by dvdand

    February 19, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Verizon and RIM bungle Storm launch

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    Verizon Wireless and RIM had promised there would be ample Blackberry Storm devices for all customers. However, that was not the case. This morning I went to get the phone at 6:30 am to wait in queue. I was about the 25th in queue. Shortly, before 7 am the store manager was out with a writing pad informing people after about the 15th person or so that they were not going to have enough on hand, another shipment was on its way and he would take down the customers’ phone numbers and call them when it was in. Even then you were not guaranteed the phone. You had to make it out to the store within 15 minutes of receiving the phone call otherwise you were out of luck. So, what gives? Well, Boy Genius Report had some early information yesterday saying that Verizon would not be able to meet the demand. Apparently, according to Verizon, it was RIM’s fault that they were not able to ship enough devices. To me, that just is the Big Red pointing a finger at the manufacturer for its inability to estimate the demand and not having a strategy in place to meet the rush for the device. I have been with Verizon for a while, but  right now, I am really pissed at them for bungling perhaps their best opportunity to take on AT&T and Apple iPhone. No matter what success the Storm has, I think, this experience will forever be associated with the launch and perhaps hard to live down for Verizon Wireless and RIM to a degree. And I thought I had it bad, until I read the plight of one of our reader who was lied to twice and is very annoyed at Verizon right now. You can read about his encounter here.

    Written by dvdand

    November 22, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Blackberry Storm reviewed

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    Considering that we are just a day away from the much awaited Blackberry Storm, here are two in-depth reviews of the Blackberry Storm from Boy Genius Report and Engadget. Just be warned these are truly in-depth review. So, if you intend to read them, make sure you have plenty of time on hand to take notes because that is what you will need to get a good understanding of all the features in the device. In summary, though, according to Boy Genius Report:

    Here’s our honest to god non-biased conclusion… this is the best phone to ever touch Verizon Wireless so far. If you’re a Verizon Wireless subscriber and a dumb phone won’t cut it, you’d be pretty air-headed to not pick this bad boy up above any other smartphone in Verizon’s lineup.

    Engadget took a slightly different route in that their review is sprinkled with comparisions to iPhone. And this is what Engadget has to say about the phone:

    The selling points are easy: the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold, it’s designed and backed by RIM (now almost a household name thanks to their prevalence in the business and entertainment markets), and it’s packed with features that, at first glance, make it seem not only as good as the iPhone, but better. The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it’s not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand — that wow-inducing clickable screen — just isn’t all that great.

    So, as I said, if you are indeed planning on getting this phone, decide the features that are important to you, read the reviews, take notes, and then make the decision.

    Written by dvdand

    November 20, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Excellent hands-on video of Verizon Blackberry Storm

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    Here is an excellent hands-on review of the Blackberry Storm that Verizon is launching this week. The reviewer has done a great job of highlighting the key features of the phone and is definitely worth the 6 minutes or so to review it if you are in market for the Storm.


    Written by dvdand

    November 18, 2008 at 6:41 am