Pundits are discussing the future of Research in Motion (RIM) and its once ubiquitous Blackberry. In 2009 the Blackberry had 44% market share (including me as a user). Today their market share has dropped to less than 10% including the loss of me as a user. While the Blackberry still has many loyal users, and arguably the best email platform, they are losing market share at a rate that extrapolates to “out of business” in the near future. A lack of Marketing is the root cause of this position.
The mistake: Failing to understand the vast majority of users care more about fast Internet access than a robust email platform. Some suggest that it was a technology failure that is causing the problem. Not possibly true. Both Android and Apple have platforms that solve this problem. Why can’t RIM? Because they did not recognize (or care) that customers today want something beyond email. That is a failure of fundamental Marketing. It is a core responsibility of Marketing to recognize where the customer will be tomorrow so your company can be there just ahead of them.
What is RIM doing to try to repair the damage? They are investing in marketing, which is a mistake. The marketing they are investing in is back-end marketing tactics. They are hoping to make a product which no longer meets the needs of the target market cool. There is not enough money to make that happen; and to try to hype their efforts they note that the new marketing campaign has raised purchase consideration by 5%. If they were getting real purchase increases (which is all that matters) they would not bother to talk about intent.
Failed Marketing (with a capital M) caused RIM to miss the marketplace shift. Could be that the Marketing people responsible were ignored, I don’t know. All I know is that marketing (with a small m, and representing the back-end activities of promotion, advertising, etc) couldn’t save Detroit when their cars sucked and it won’t save the Blackberry either … until it does not suck.