Can RIM win against Apple? A comment on Sramana Mitra’s recent post

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Sramana Mitra has a great post about what RIM’s next strategic moves might be as they look at taking on Apple.  She suggests a potential Dell Acquistion and recommends that RIM focus on the enterprise segment, an area where Apple has been deficient.

Does RIM See The Gap in iPhone’s Defenses? | Sramana Mitra on Strategy.

I have some small issues with her recommendation that RIM  focus only on the Enterprise market.  The global markets are increasingly driven by consumers over enterprise.  In the prior downturns, the dominant recovery strategy provided tax incentives and other benefits to drive enterprise spending on services and durable goods.  Recent recovery strategies have focused on getting the consumer to open their wallets and spend their way to a bull market.

RIM would be giving up in ceding the consumer market to Apple.  At it’s core, RIM is a communication and collaboration company.  The Blackberry is about maintaining connection and awareness to your teams, customers, and other stakeholders.  This metaphor extends to consumers as well.  Whether you’re checking status on that customer install or letting your peeps know that you’ve got a hunger for Taco Bell, the underlying technology is the same.

Apple’s products, on the other hand,tend to dwell on the individual consumption of media.  iPhones and iPods serve the individual first and the customer’s social network second, if at all.  This is where the iPhone is vulnerable to the likes of RIM and Nokia, companies that understand that handsets are about communication first and media second.

RIM’s challenge will be to spread their portfolio to have more consumer focused offerings.  To date the extent of this tailor has been to offer different color devices as forks from their main enterprise Blackberries, though the Blackberry Flip is a nice start.

To sum up, RIM could be a contender in the fight for the consumer market.  They have a strong foundation to start from on the enterprise side and a bias towards connecting people that Apple is still figuring out.

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