Anatomy of failure: Mobile flops from RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia can’t compete with Apple’s iPhone, iPad

“Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook is so bad that Verizon Wireless may not bother carrying it — a spokesperson said so the day after the PlayBook debuted to customers. AT&T won’t let BlackBerry users download the essential app (BlackBerry Bridge) that brings email and communications apps to the PlayBook. Carriers are arms dealers, selling weapons to anyone for a price, but even they are drawing the line at the PlayBook,: Galen Gruman reports for InfoWorld. “That’s a huge fall given that the PlayBook’s creator, RIM, is the successful patriarch of the mobile market — inventing the smartphone category, in fact. And RIM is not alone.”

“Like RIM, after lots and lots of promises leveraging its Windows savvy and market strength, Microsoft produced its own disastrous mobile platform, Windows Phone 7,” Gruman reports. “The list goes on. Nokia had to kill its signature Symbian OS after a new CEO forced it to admit that the OS was at end of life after several years of self-denial, and the company’s efforts to create a successor had all failed. It then jumped from the frying pan into the fire by adopting Windows Phone 7 and delayed new products until 2012. Then there is the parade of successful, largely Asian PC and display makers (original equipment makers, or OEMs) — such as Acer, Lenovo, and ViewSonic — who promise and even sometimes ship sloppy, ill-conceived devices in hopes of getting into a growing market. How enticing!”

Gruman wonders, “Why are such established technology powerhouses failing so spectacularly in mobile? How can they not see the self-destruction in their approaches? …There are several reasons, and one of them is not Apple. Sure, Apple worked its design magic on first the smartphone and then the tablet, bringing to market the same zeal, elegance, consistency, and ecosystem advantages that have made the Mac the only PC with a growing market share. But Apple had done that with the original Mac, yet was still beaten by others. The fact that Apple’s mobile products are truly the best doesn’t explain why the competitors’ products are generally so bad.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Apple overtakes Nokia as world’s largest vendor of mobile handsets by revenue – April 21, 2011
InfoWorld reviews RIM BlackBerry PlayBook: A useless, unfathomable train wreck – April 21, 2011
RIM’s half-CEOs whine: It’s not ‘fair’ that our ‘superior’ tablet is getting bad reviews – April 15, 2011
Analyst cuts forecasts for Motorola on disappointing Xoom, Atrix sales – April 5, 2011
Apple makes roadkill of deer-in-the-headlights CEOs – April 1, 2011


  1. Apple is one of the only companies that doesn’t try to screw you out of your money, you actually get exactly what you’re paying for, instead of crap and half baked promises.

  2. Here is the reason analysts, are you ready? please sit down and listen:

    The reason why the Mac did not get the penetration, even to this day regardless of it’s technical abilities, is because if the army of IT Managers that Microsoft has on it’s side and to this day will recommend nothing else.

    The PC you’re sat opposite, typing this ‘analysis’ wasn’t chosen BY you, it was chosen FOR you by the IT department, they who know what’s best for you, in order to keep themselves employed and their masters happy.

    Mobile is not like this. People don’t have an IT department in the way, so they make the choice of what’s best for them.

    The best product wins, instead of the worst product being forced on you, and because Apple make the best product, that’s what’s chosen.

    If the IT department had their power taken away and users could choose what they want, we’d all be using the Mac today.

    And because technology would be in the hands of a company who constantly innovate, driven by what users want, we’d all be buzzing around in flying cars as well, probably.

      1. I second that. Col describes precisely my experience in the business world. I worked in a newsroom for nearly 30 years, ALL of them at a PC or work station predecessors. When it came time to buy my first home computer, it was a Centris 650. (Remember that
        Mac?) Photogs and copy editors all ultimately had Macs, and they would have traded their Nikons and dictionaries for AK-47s if the company took them away.
        The PC software was phenomenally bad. The company’s choice of e-mail software was a horrible, bloated and utterly unintuitive turd called GroupWise; we soon began calling it GroupDumb. And on and on. One of the IT guys was a big Mac fan, and it was at his desk that I first saw the slogan, “If Microsoft ever builds a product that doesn’t suck, it will be a vacuum cleaner.”

        1. I had the misfortune of booting into Windows 7 to use Internet Explorer 9 the other day because some real estate and banking websites aren’t Safari compatible. Whilst it’s not abysmally bad like Android software, it was pretty much a mishmash of Snow Leopard, Tiger and XP. I consider XP to be the best designed Microsoft OS which was relatively simple to use. Windows 7 on the other hand makes things more complicated without compensating advantages.

          Microsoft introduces new UI elements for the sake of forcing upgrades. Otherwise you’d be quite happy to chunter away on XP till the cows come home but then how will Microsoft make money? Take the inane ribbon as another example. I’m less productive with the ribbon than otherwise. It just makes things more complicated which is the exact opposite of Apple’s philosophy which is to simplify and reduce all things to its absolute minimum.

          1. Were the websites really incompatible, or do they just run a browser check and reject anything that isn’t Internet Explorer even though other browsers actually are compatible in reality?

            Try enabling the Develop menu in Safari and changing the user agent to IE 9. Infact, that’s what a person should do anytime they’re having trouble with any website. And if it suddenly works after that, then you know either the site designer or the server software is purposefully singling out non-IE browsers and punishing them with malformed data, bad server responses, or bad scripts.

    1. Actually, Gruman did say much the same in his Playbook review. He said the PB is the kind of device that gets released to people who have IT support, but that consumers would be shocked at how much work it requires to get it working.

      1. RIM is on a downward spiral launching a Playbook with a complicated setup process, small unusable screen, the requirement to bridge with obsolete Blackberries in order to fetch mail, constant software updates and the biggest killer of all, a 7″ screen that basically is not much bigger than a 3.5″ smartphone screen.

        For a BB user to graduate to a 7″ screen from a 640×480 screen can be seen as a significant upgrade but to the rest of the world it’s a too-small screen that severely limits its potential.

    2. Amen to that. Those IT guys had far too much power and they abused it to no end. I’m sure that’s one reason why Steve hates the enterprise so much. Microsoft built itself a huge island surrounded by IT protectors under the guise of official Microsoft certification.

      Microsoft built an enterprise puzzle that only Microsoft pieces fit into and made it look legitimate to keep Apple out. I’m not saying Apple would have had a huge enterprise presence but it should have been in at least double digits except for the Microsoft guardians of IT.

      Always buying Dell, Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Windows Desktop and Microsoft Office an IT manager could never go wrong. Low risk management.

    3. All the pc buyers who remember the it dept saying apple=expensive/proprietary, they are the ones flocking to android. They are sheep all needing to be led.

  3. Apple makes the best apple pie, they put together all the ingredients and then they bake it for the right amount of time and at the right temperature. Everyone else sees flour apples and sugar and just don’t get it.

    1. Great analogy. Lots of people can cook; few can bake well. Anyone can make stewed apples; but an apple pie with a great crust made from scratch is a chalange for most.

    1. 5 gold stars for you @Schuluss!

      Technically it required both Palm and Handspring to create what we now call the ‘smartphone’. RIM entered the market LATER. I rant away about it further below.

  4. The iPad has been out for just one year. And before the iPad no one really thought of a tablet (in the “giant iPhone form-factor). Even after Jobs’ demo people in the industry hadn’t gotten on-board with the idea.

    So I guess the real question shoul be, why would anyone think a tablet could be launched (from scratch) in just a year?

    It’s a massive undertaking. It took Apple years and they had the parts just laying around the place (OS, App Store, Hardware, iTunes, etc.) Indeed as we learned later a lot of these elements were motivated originally by the idea of a tablet over 5 or 6 years ago.

      1. So true.

        Many of these ideas have been around Apple almost from the beginning. (Apple ][ with a built in keyboard, Mac 128 with a handle, PowerBook 100 with a Ram Disk).

    1. I was surprised (or maybe shouldn’t have been) at how many of the same people who didn’t recognize what a giant leap forward the iPhone was when Apple introduced it had the same lack of recognition when the iPad was introduced.

  5. “…the competitors’ products are generally so bad.”

    Using the word “generally” indicates there are some which aren’t bad, but the whole point of the article is that no competing product is good compared to Apple’s. These writers can’t help themselves, like referring to the “tablet sector,” when the isn’t one. There is the iPad.

  6. I remember the super hype from CES about how xoon and the playbook were going to wipe out the iPad… The tech reporters were going crazy saying these would take on the iPad.. This is greate…. etc…

    The Xoon was at the time no more than a video player and still won best of show??? The RIM was a redone folo concept that was save fortunately from the light of day.

    To me PC are “twik to pray it works.” While the Mac gets the job done.

    To the other tablet makers here are some bits of wisdom….

    Lead the target you are shooting for….
    People want to get the job done! Not twik and peak.
    And finally… DEEDS not WORDS are what counts…

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