Research in Motion: What Lies Ahead?

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Case Details:

Case Code : ECON039
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 2012
Pub. Date : 2013
Teaching Note :Available
Organization : --
Industry : Smartphones
Countries : North America; Global

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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RIM’s drastic decline in performance was due to a number of factors. It lost market share globally and most importantly in the most profitable US market. The share of RIM’s BlackBerry devices in the US smartphone market declined from 24 percent in November 2010 to just 9 percent in November 2011. This was a big fall for BlackBerry which had once been the top smartphone seller in the US market. RIM’s global market share too declined from 16 percent in 2010 to 10.4 percent in 2011. The company’s share price also fell by nearly 77 percent between December 2010 and December 2011. One of the main reasons cited by analysts for RIM’s declining performance was the increased competition in the market for smartphones...

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Playbook Fiasco

After the release and instant success of Apple’s iPad in April, 2010, a new market was created for touch enabled tablet computers. Tablet computers offered features similar to that of smartphones but with bigger screen sizes, enhanced battery life, and higher processing speeds. RIM developed a new tablet computer called the PlayBook in response to the highly successful iPad (iPad) from Apple. The PlayBook was a touch-enabled tablet computer targeted at professionals who had beeen using BlackBerry smartphones till then. Unlike other tablet computers like iPad, the PlayBook offered access to corporate mail, calendar, and memos with the same level of security available on a BlackBerry smartphone. The PlayBook was initially released in Canada and the US on April 19, 2011, and was released globally later. It had many features which were on a par with those on the iPad..

Leadership Gap

In December 2011, RIM announced that the new version of its operating system for its smartphones, BBOS 10 based on QNX would be delayed till the second half of 2012. This announcement led to a further fall in its share price by 7 percent and fueled shareholders’ anger (Refer to Exhibit- III for the graph of RIM’s share price from January 1st, 2008 to February 21st, 2012). Doubts began to surface on the ability of the BBOS 10 to compete against iOS and Android. RIM’s continued dismal performance led to some analysts predicting that it had already lost the game to its competitors. They said that it might be too late for RIM to change course and face the competition...


Meanwhile, RIM’s stock price fell further and hit an all-time low of US$ 15.02 in February 2012 (Refer to Exhibit-III for the graph of RIM’s share price from January 1, 2008, to February 21, 2012). However, even though the sales of BlackBerry smartphones were plummeting, RIM continued to expand its subscriber base. But analysts wondered whether RIM’s existing subscribers would stay on with the company till it released better smartphones. Commenting on the sales of RIM, Tavis McCourt, an analyst at Morgan Keegan , said, “They’re still adding a lot of subscribers, but they’re not selling enough phones...


Exhibit I: Features of BlackBerry PlayBook
Exhibit II: Preference for Different Operating Systems for Tablet Computer by CIOs (Responses in Percentages)
Exhibit III: Graph of Research in Motion’s Share Price from January 1st, 2008 to February 21st 2012
Exhibit IV: Market Shares of Major Mobile Operating Systems (January and December 2011)

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