On September 1st, 1939, World War II began with the German army invading Poland. A year later, Germany controlled most of Western Europe. The nation’s blitzkrieg (lightning war) strategy deeply influenced the way in which Germany was able to take over so many countries in so little time.
Wikipedia describes blitzkrieg as a “concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the latter is broken, proceeding without regard to its flank.” In other words, a whole lot of stuff moving in one direction at high speed without stopping.
Substitute “tanks, infantry, artillery and air power” with “phones and tablets,” and that quote pretty much describes what Android’s doing to its rivals. At least one Android ally (OEMs and carriers) is releasing a new device every week. This “release fast and often” strategy drowns the enemy in a sea of Android devices.
Normally, we wouldn’t want to compare our favorite OS to a vicious army that destroyed half of Europe, but there are some pretty clear similarities in the way that they’re attacking their enemies.
As a result of this “lightning war,” Android’s competitors are often caught off guard. Germany was able to break through enemies’ defenses due to “general enemy unpreparedness and an inability to react swiftly enough to the attacker’s offensive operations.” If that sounds like the situation RIM and Nokia find themselves in, that’s because it’s exactly what’s happening.
Just like many of Germany’s enemies, RIM hasn’t been able to effectively respond to the Android war machine. Essentially, Android has moved too swiftly and precisely for RIM to recover–and the inevitable has happened. Android has broken through RIM’s defensive line and the latter is now on the run.
Things haven’t looked good for RIM for a while, but the first sign of weakness surfaced last week via the company’s earnings call. RIM announced its net income is down roughly 10% compared to last year’s quarter–from $769 to $695 million. Additionally, RIM said it has shipped (not sold) only 500,000 Playbook tablets. Again, not very good news. To top it off, the company plans to put in place a “cost optimization program,” also known as “firing a whole lot of people.”
Following the earnings call, it has been one bad news after the other one for the Canadian company. First, another senior executive at RIM jumped ship and went to competitor Samsung. Then we found out RIM is pushing carriers to release bug-filled and unfinished phones in order to get them out faster. Yesterday, we saw Wall Street lower its expectations for the company’s annual earnings.
Finally, like a kick when you’re down, Seesmic (makers of the popular Twitter app) announced yesterday that it’s dropping support for the Blackberry platform. You know something is wrong when developers stop supporting your platform, instead of the other way around. Slowly but surely, the wheels are falling off the RIM wagon, and it’s not pretty.
What is RIM doing to counter-attack Android? The company is working on a new platform based on QNX. Devices powered by this new OS won’t be released until 2012. This gives Android at least six more months to destroy whatever’s left of the Blackberry army. Like I said, RIM seems unable to “react swiftly enough to the attacker’s offensive operations.”
But everything is not lost for Research in Motion. There’s still a way out. The company could still surrender and adapt Android. While Blackberry OS won’t live to see another day, at least the company will survive in a mostly Android-owned future. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but anything is better than sitting around and watching the competition eat your market share like a hungry Pac-Man.
UPDATE: There’s blood in the water now, and the sharks are starting to notice. RIM’s value is so low now that there’s talk of a possible acquisition by Microsoft or Dell.