March 19, 2012

Part III - Staging the RIM Comeback Step # 3 - Innovate like mad in car+mobile combo

RIM's challenges are tall - no question about it. But there is still so much opportunity and the mobile pie is going to grow so much more. Earlier I talked about Step 1 in Part I - Staging the RIM Comeback and Step 2 in Part II - Staging the RIM Comeback Step #2 - Show the Love to the Carriers, Baby in staging RIM's comeback. Here I explore the last leg. 

I believe RIM has huge potential that is still vastly untapped. It has an ace up its sleeve. It’s the QNX platform that is already embedded in so many cars and continues to win more manufacturers every day. The competition is just not there:  Apple is looking at TV and Google is looking everywhere.  Microsoft, with Sync, is the only other game in town. Unlike RIM, MS’s Sync platform doesn’t have a common underlying core with its mobile devices, like the one that QNX shares between BB10 and what they embed in the cars. I believe this is an opportunity for RIM to move faster - there is leverage in the integration of car and mobile that they can really go to town with. 

Let’s hope RIM doesn’t repeat the mistake of the past by working only with manufacturers for innovations like they once did by innovating strictly for enterprise customers. Now is the time to observe USERS/DRIVERS to see how painful life is when transitioning between mobile use and driving. Now is the time to experiment A LOT with creating continuity.  Throw lots of spaghetti on the wall (and the windshield) to see what sticks. Don’t fall into the trap that automotive innovation is about consumers only. Sure it’s one big and highly attractive market. However, a huge part of our economy involves transportation and it’s highly inefficient and ripe for an overhaul. 

Keep in mind that the number of cars on the road globally is going to go through a hockey stick growth with the rise of emerging economies. The model of automobile ownership may change too. In ten years are we each going to own a car or will we purchase a membership that gives us access to a car? It’s time for the think tank automotive group at QNX to grow big and work hard at laying down the strategy.  I’d like to see them showing huge thought leadership that goes well beyond the car stereo. It’s time to think BIG and experiment.

RIM can again win HUGELY in this area. How can cars, delivery trucks, long haul trucks, emergency vehicles, personal vehicle fleets, and so many more, benefit from a QNX/BB10 one-two punch?

I can’t wait to see the RIM platform enabling the next generation of smart transportation systems!


Procrustes said...

I agree with Frederic. Since the dawn of the cellphone and the subsequent concern about driving and cellphone use I have been amazed that no supplier provided any link between the car and the phone. I would like my cellphone to detect that it is in my car and that I am driving in order to determine what to do with incoming calls. I do not originate calls when driving but feel obliged to answer if I am expecting an urgent call. I would like the phone to offer the caller an option to leave a message and/or to tell me by a beep that I should stop soon to access the message/call.

JCC said...

Question though is: "where should the intelligence be, in the car, or in your mobile device that you bring with you in your car?". My bet is on the latter. Your car might push some info to your phone but I can hardly see the car being the hub. As a result, mobile device wins there.

Andrew said...

I want to see RIM turn it around as much as anyone but the 800lb gorilla in your argument is the amount of time it would take to turn around a company like RIM. It doesn't happen overnight. Firing a few executives and putting in a new CEO is a start, but realistically we are looking at least 2 years to change the culture of the company.

They have a divergent focus on the market, the have a huge opportunity to grow like mad in the emerging markets with low margin high volume handset sales and their traditional carrier/data management model. Yet they are dumping massive resources into BB10, which may or may not be backward compatible with their existing infrastructure for all features and BES management.

So RIM has to decide if they are going to eclipse Android and iOS or focus on emerging markets with the traditional BB 0S.

I don't think they have the time, resources to do both well. It is almost two separate companies. It would be pretty ballsy to bet the future of RIM on BB10 and deprecate BB6-7, but it might be the only way to compete in 2 years when they turn around the ship.. Spending their cash hoard rather than saving it and retooling for a new generation of devices/partnerships seems to be the only solution. Apple, Samsung, LG, HTC aren't going to stop innovating and wait for them to catch up.

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