Posts Tagged ‘RIM’
With the economy slowly on the mend and the industry struggling with bandwidth, there is a merger mania going on in the mobile industry. Orange & T-Mobile over in UK have kicked things off and Sprint-Nextel followed it by acquiring the Virgin Mobile MVNO that operates on Sprint’s network. In addition, Bharti Airtell merger with MTN was stopped by Indian Government. There are more rumors which are making the investment bankers salivate. So what are they pushing?
First up is the perrenial favorite, Microsoft & RIM merger. Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, thinks that Microsoft should buy RIM even though it might be expensive. On paper, this match is made in heaven with Microsoft’s strong engineering, deep pockets and large, loyal commercial customer base and RIM’s strength in enterprise email and hardware. This has been talked about for two years or more now but Microsoft has indicated that they are not interested. It remains to be seen how long it takes the talking heads and the investment types to convince MS otherwise.
This next one is intriguing and if it comes to fruition, this could shake the worldwide mobile industry up and at the same time give some joy to its competitors. There are rumors coming out of UK over the weekend that Vodafone might be considering merging with Verizon Communication so that it can get some benefits from its investment in their joint venture Verizon Wireless. Now, if this were to happen, it could be big news as two of the most popular wireless brands would merge and can become truly a worldwide behemoth. However, there are dangers in this for both companies as the integration could take their focus away from growing and fighting off the competition. From timing perspective, this might be a now or never moment. Given that the industry is slowing and worldwide economy is not expected to expand until after Q3 of 2010, it might be tempting to roll the dice. However, there are significant hurdles to this deal as regulators in Europe, Asia and US will have to approve the deal which alone could take up well over a year. In the meantime, the two companies must keeping moving forward. Vodafone needs to continue to focus on growth in Western Europe and India while Verizon needs to build out its LTE network and not give up ground to AT&T. If the two companies can pull this off with any form of succcess, it would be a significant coup and feather in the cap of the leadership team. But, all this is conjecture until the deal is announced.
Finally, this deal seems to be equally long-shot. Deutche Telecom, is considering acquiring Sprint-Nextel and merging it with its T-Mobile Unit. While regulators should not have hard time approving it, the merger process would be insane with Sprint still trying to clean up after its Nextel acquisition. In addition, Sprint needs to decide what to do with its Clearwire investment.
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 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.
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.
Originally Best Buy had indicated that it would be selling Blackberry Storm starting November 16th. Unfortunately for them, Verizon Wireless and RIM decided to launch the Storm on November 21st. Consequently, Best Buy will now start selling the Storm in their stores on November 23rd. On the positive side of it, they will be able set up the Verizon contracts for you in the store, so you won’t have to shell out $599 to purchase. You can get it for $199 with 2-year contract.