Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is RIM trying too hard to be a consumer company?

I wrote before about RIM trying to be a consumer company, how hard it is and how risky it might be for them. Exactly like Nokia trying to be an enterprise company, attempt which failed miserably.

My analysis came from the way RIM was presenting the Storm. Much more as a consumer device than as an enterprise device.

I wrote (sorry for quoting myself, it looks cheesy):
Where can they shine? In the enterprise. They still have 98% of the enterprise to capture. They are entrenched. They have to make sure nobody gets in. Like the iPhone. Or the Android phones. Or the Windows Mobile ones. Or Nokia.

I feel the Storm is a smart move in this direction. You have to give enterprise people a little of coolness (music, pictures, some social networking), being strong on your basic values (email), and improve on the competition.
Today, I read an article on The Register about the Storm launch in the UK. In a nutshell, if you are a consumer and you buy the Storm, everything works. If you are an enterprise and you need Exchange support, you are screwed. Not only it costs more (about $25 more), but you simply cannot get it right now.

Quoting The Register (much less cheesy):
"The BES service books for the Storm are not quite ready ... chances are it still wouldn't work. Obviously we'd rather not take the chance just yet until we know everything is working 100 per cent on that side."

All this is part of a "planned, phased rollout", and Vodafone tells us that the Enterprise-ready version of the Storm is coming over the next few weeks.
What is clear is that RIM is trying to launch the Storm as a consumer device. Period. Even taking the risk of pissing off their core customers. I think it is a big mistake on their part. Chasing the iPhone is a good idea, but upsetting your core target is a very bad one.

And, by the way, if you are an Enterprise buying a Storm and you want to save the $25/month, take a look at the Funambol Community Edition. It is free free free ($0/month), it has an Exchange connector and a BlackBerry client. You can buy the Storm as a consumer and use it in the enterprise.

After all, RIM is pushing you to do it...