Has RIM Crossed the Consumer Chasm?

Been in meetings and coming to the RIM earnings breakout story a little late today, but hard not to feel that with this quarter’s results RIM has successfully crossed the consumer chasm. In other words, while consumer sales have been growing in recent months, the company has now gone from being an almost entirely business-centric one to a company with, at the very least, rapidly-growing appeal in consumer markets.

Could the killer feature, however, in consumer markets be something other than email? Admittedly, the rapidly-improving Gmail client on Bberry helps, and a better IM client would be nice too. But I increasingly wonder whether it’s the pleasingly-designed Curve, and that GPS with turn-by-turn directions on the latest version thereof is the kind of thing that will break BBerry thru. Sure, navigation is mundane, but consumers use mobile products very differently from how business customers do.

Agree/disagree? Let me know.


  1. I completely agree. I picked up a GPS Curve a few weeks ago and it’s fantastic.(I pick up all phones eventually due to my job)
    The reason I initially started looking more closely at them was that over the past year many of my low-tech friends started carrying them. I asked the rep at the AT&T store who was buying them: “Everybody. 12 year olds even want them.”
    The GPS feature is a great add-on, and not just for driving. Putting on my geek hat for a minute, the great thing (and slight drawback) is that it’s TRUE GPS. No AT&T callbacks, no A-GPS, just a fully accessible GPS chip. (The only downside is this means it won’t work inside)
    Unlike most other devices, Blackberries are basically open. $100 for a RIM developer cert and you have full access to the hardware. Call control, GPS, SMS, you name it. As developers pick up on this we are going to start seeing innovative new software using these things.
    In my opinion, the Curve & Pearl are the first devices in the consumer space that I’d call “Social Mobiles”. I interact with Facebook (Using the RIM-sponsored Facebook app), SMS, Blackberry Message, and keep up with my friends via chatboards through email.
    All these things fall into the form of how people REALLY use mobiles…. Reactive, personal, interactive messages. (Short: Push)
    Once the geeks build GPS into that world, things are going to get interesting.

  2. Simple answer – agree, but its more nuanced than that.
    In my research on smartphones, the segmentation of the customers falls into 5 basic categories. The monikers in parenthesis are “most likely” not rigid.
    1. Intense Text message + limited phone (Tween)
    2. Lifestyle (IM, Text) Phone + Music (20+ usually college)
    3. Email + Internet (Prosumer + Business market)
    4. Photos + GPS (Soccer mom)
    5. Want it all (Many subsegments)
    The use of voice is a given in all categories.
    The Curve appeals in each of these categories.The reason for pickup in the 1.65 Million sign-ups for my research seems (early) to point to the prosumer “gifting” to his/her significant other OR the prosumer buying one for college kid.
    So even though the RIMM started as a “business utility”, many of these business users are gifting them OR lending their Curve / Perl to others for a brief period of time which allows the new segment category to experience it. Usually results in a purchase. Time to purchase is around 4+ months is what anecdotal evidence suggest.
    Again, its early and limited research, so YMMV.

  3. Sure, and the iPhone is now a business device.
    Consumers want appliances. That is why they are called “consumers”.
    The Black Berry is never going to be an appliance -unless Jobs visits Waterloo and brings a new type of religion to that community.

  4. Totally agree.
    Even my non-Wall Street friends now have BBs. My MOM even has one now. It has definitely become mainstream, which is pretty incredible considering that as recently as 1-2 years ago most people thought RIM was going to be shut down because of patent infringement!

  5. Elie Seidman says:

    completely agree but the IM on the BB is already there and not via gmail or Yahoo but rather through an app that RIM seems to have forgotten about 2 or 3 years ago (look at the date of the last update) and yet everyone I know is now using:
    Blackberry Messenger (Google it)
    RIM should leverage this app to the hilt. its proprietary to the BB so if you leave the BB you lose all of your connections and its incredibly addictive. far better than using text messaging.