Things Looking Dim for RIM

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The Role of Tablets in the Enterprise

Tablets may one day soon take their place alongside PCs and smartphones as standard-issue IT equipment.

While it has had some good times, it is clear that the overall trending has been downward for Research In Motion.

Much of it wasn't the company's fault. When it was the dominant player in the corporate email sector, its BlackBerry - aka "CrackBerry" - reigned supreme. Of course, promising markets are approached by other companies, most of which are extremely aggressive and employ lots of smart people.

So its fall from height is understandable. But the signs aren't good for the company as it drops the ball in going after the new tablet market. Indeed, RIM apparently has come up short in two different ways with the PlayBook. A comparison can be made to Tiger Woods: He was so great that he inspired a generation of young golfers who would have challenged him in any case. But he and RIM brought a lot of problems on themselves.

The first problem for RIM - reported upon in a light-hearted but informative way at eWeek last month - is that the PlayBook initially won't have native email. That's a curious move, since RIM of course made its mark in the email sector. The eWeek piece describes the workaround that RIM has unveiled, which includes a confusing dance with the user's BlackBerry - provided he or she has one.

The other problem is in execution. Apparently, a batch of PlayBooks shipped with problems in the operating system and had to be recalled by the company. NewsFactor explained:

RIM is recalling about 1,000 PlayBook tablets because they were shipped with an operating-system glitch. That glitch may be hindering users from doing initial setups. According to RIM, the saving grace is that most of the tablets with the faulty operating systems haven't yet reached consumers.

Image is vital. It's not a good week for a company when three headlines describing its endeavors are: "Uh-Oh, RIM Fumbles PlayBook Again" (the NewsFactor story), "Tablet 'amateur hour' not yet over -- for RIM" (in IT World) and "Could this be the end of RIM?" (in the International Business Times). The latter piece details not only the PlayBook snafu, but problems with the BlackBerry Storm and BlackBerry Torch.

Taken as a whole, the coverage makes it seem that RIM simply isn't ready for prime time. That's a shame because, once upon a time, the BlackBerry was prime time.