BlackBerry users around the world have been impacted this week with service outages. RIM has offered an explanation of the problem, and it has apologized, but it is going to take more than a simple "We're sorry" for RIM to regain the faith of loyal customers.
RIM is already spiraling to its doom. With iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S launching this week, Windows Phone "Mango" rolling out, and Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" on the imminent horizon, there are plenty of very awesome alternatives out there.
It will never regain its once-lofty status, but there are some things it can do to bounce back from this outage, and reverse its fortunes in the short term:
For starters, RIM needs to compensate BlackBerry users around the world. RIM has explained that the outage was caused by a cascading failure stemming from failed switch. Since RIM has identified the issue and can trace the issue back to its own network, it needs to accept responsibility and not expect its wireless provider partners to take the heat.
The real question is "how much?" While the outage itself only lasted a few days, it will take more than a pro-rated kickback for two or three days of lost service. RIM needs to toss in a free month, or something more substantial to demonstrate to customers how truly sorry it is, and how much the customers are valued.
I think CEOs--like professional sports team coaches--take too much blame for a poor team effort, and that too much credit is given for CEO leadership when things are going well. That said, the two-headed strategy isn't working.
Ideally, two heads would be better than one and the combined ideas and leadership of co-CEOs would yield benefits that a single CEO can't deliver. The reality is that it's not working out that way, and there's a reason virtually every other company in existence has just one CEO.
Too many chefs spoil the soup. RIM needs to choose a leader and either sink or swim based on the vision and leadership of a single CEO.
RIM needs to do something with its phones. The traditional BlackBerry is an icon of smartphones and mobile messaging, but being iconic and remaining relevant are two different things.
What RIM can't do is try to "iPhone-ize" the BlackBerry. We already have the iPhone, and if customers want a knock-off iPhone without the Apple "walled garden" they can turn to Android.
Microsoft went back to the drawing board and created something innovative with Windows Phone 7. It delivers a solid mobile experience that is unique to Windows Phone devices rather than just mimicking iOS.
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