How RIM handed the mobile market over to Apple

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Crunchbase

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Crunchbase

Hint: It has nothing to do with touch screens.

While RIM scrambles to create the next greatest device, or their “iPhone killer” it needs to recognize that it’s no longer about the device. RIM don’t you remember that touchscreens aren’t new.. Palm had them back in the 90′s … before you crushed them.

When RIM ruled the world

RIM knows what it takes to dethrone the current market leader. RIM accomplished just that crushing a powerful and established palm. RIM was successful where palm wasn’t for two reasons.

  1. Blackberry provided remote email access.
  2. Enterprises saw Blackberry as the solution to Palm’s shortcomings.

Blackberry (hardware) offered a single capability that Palm couldn’t, remote email, and that made all the difference. Even when Blackberry’s didn’t have phone capability they dominated the market.

Today, when the iPhone rules the world*

Today’s marketplace is vastly different. The hardware is all comparable. There is no longer a single hardware driven feature that one vendor can offer that the others can’t duplicate. In such an environment it will be the software that differentiates one device from the next.

Apple learned this lesson and is smart enough not to repeat their failure to win the desktop war. They know exactly why M$ won the desktop war. It wasn’t because of a better OS, it was because they had tons of 3rd party support. For those that believe that the desktop war isn’t over, and Apple still has a chance, your wrong. The desktop war ended years ago, when applications moved from the desktop to the web. Now the next war has begun and Apple (and Google) have come to fight. The next war is the phone war… are we still calling these things phones… seeing as “phone” is such as small part of what they do. Mobile computing war sounds a bit better.

Proof that the war is already strongly leaning towards Apple. I still own a blackberry.. stupid Verizon contract. I sit in awe as my friends and co-workers continually show me their newest app. I spent an hour trying to install an application on my BlackBerry that would tell me what the weather forecast was. I visited dozens of sites, read blogs, googled a bunch just to find a single application that would work. On an iPhone it is as simple as searching in the app store and clicking install.

*Apples Achilles Heel

In a word. DRM. Which has opened the door for a strong competitor in Google with their open Android platform.