We already know that the Blackberry manufacturer company RIM is under growing pressure from various governments, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India, to allow greater access to its proprietary security technology.
Government officials claim it’s to allow them to monitor terrorists and other criminal activity, but critics say such access could just as easily be used to spy on citizens. While negotiations continue, nervous investors, worried this could impact RIM’s aggressive global growth plans, have lopped more than 10 per cent off its share value.
To be fair, RIM isn’t about to fold its tent and go home. The company sells almost one in two of all smartphones sold in North America and 20 per cent worldwide (behind global giant Nokia and its mobile Symbian operating system) and its technology is a key global economic tool. For all their bluster, the governments pressing RIM for more access would do more damage to their own economies by banning BlackBerry traffic.
RIM, its latest effort to recapture consumer attention and inject some sexiness into its iconic brand has fallen somewhat short. The BlackBerry Torch 9800 was supposed to be the company’s new flagship product. A new operating system, BlackBerry 6, also bowed on the new device, which sold 150,000 units in its first weekend.
In a marketing sense, RIM remains the tortoise to Apple’s and Google’s hare. Tomorrow’s consumers won’t crave BlackBerry devices as they do its competitors, and RIM’s global leadership aspirations now seem distant at best.
Whatever happens in the Middle East, even if BlackBerrys aren’t fashion-forward consumer darlings, they will in all likelihood continue to generate growth and profits from business-focused buyers.
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