RIM (Research In Motion) has had a rough couple of years. A company that once boasted stock above 130 is now struggling to keep its stock from dipping below 5. Its almost legendary smartphones, once used as a verb to describe smartphones in general, are now almost forgotten by the general market. The company’s future now depends on a successful launch of BlackBerry 10, and it’s going as far as to bribe developers with $10,000 for a successful app.
In Q2 of 2012, RIM’s BlackBerry product line had a 4.8% market share in the global smartphone market. That’s a 40.9% decrease in units sold from the previous year. Granted, that’s a higher percentage than Windows Phone 7 (3.5%), but that platform has grown by 115% in the past year, and continues to grow going into Windows Phone 8. (Source: IDC)
So, by the numbers, RIM isn’t looking very well. That said, BlackBerry 10 is shaping up to be a fairly good update to the aging OS. RIM’s devices are still used in the corporate world, and the international following of RIM hasn’t dropped off as steeply as it has here in the US. It’s possible that RIM could revitalize its product line and make a comeback. Stranger things have happened. Even Apple was once on the brink of shutting its doors before the return of Steve Jobs and some pretty heavy investment from Microsoft.
Speaking of Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 didn’t exactly take off and shake the cages of Android and iOS. It did marginally at best, and it would appear that Windows Phone 8 is better positioned for success than its predecessor. Until everything is said and done, it’s up in the air as to where either company is going to sit in the smartphone market by this time in 2013.
RIM’s $10,000 Developer Bribe
One bit of news that caught my eye this week surrounds RIM’s decision to offer $10,000 to any developer who crosses the $1,000 gross sales benchmark for a single app. Essentially, if you develop an app that generates $1,000 in revenue, you’ve earned yourself an extra $10,000. This includes in-app purchases.
That’s a pretty good payday for a developer, but what are the chances of making that much in a smaller market? You may not be as hard to find within a limited developer pool, but the customers have to be there to buy your product. Still, if a few weekends of effort have the potential of paying off eleven-fold, it might be a good investment of time.
How desperate is RIM for developers that it’s willing to bribe them to that level to bring them into the fold? One might argue that this is a brilliant strategy on the part of RIM. It encourages app developers to concentrate on its platform and advertise their apps for BlackBerry devices. One shouldn’t underestimate the power of developer advertising. They are marketing their apps hard, and every time a potential customer sees the BlackBerry logo, it strengthens the ecosystem as a whole. Think about it: Do you think those “Available on the iTunes App Store” buttons don’t encourage people (at least at some level) to consider buying an iPhone?
Either way, RIM needs a home run with this edition of BlackBerry. There are still those faithful users who prefer BlackBerry devices over any other. I know a few of them, and even they (as loyal as they are) are currently considering making the switch to either Android or iOS.
Are you still a BlackBerry user? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on BlackBerry 10.