RIM's BlackBerry

Company Snapshot

Research In Motion (RIM) is a standout Canadian business success story. Since the launch of its hugely popular BlackBerry smart phone in 2001, the company has grown to achieve FY2011 sales of US $19.9 billion and net income of $3.4 billion. However, fierce competition, recent financial difficulties, and product delays have caused the firm's leaders to retrench and re-think its strategic options and future. This illustrates how even brilliant strategies and innovative Blue Ocean strategic moves that drive profitable growth for years should not be depended upon for future success. Innovation needs be an ongoing, relentless pursuit of opportunities that simultaneously deliver superior buyer value and low cost operating advantage.

Blue Ocean Strategic Move

RIM's BlackBerry launch was a Blue Ocean strategic move because the company not only created technology innovation, it created superior buyer value innovation as well. Breaking away from traditional cell phone and pager competition, BlackBerry offered a new type of wireless handheld solution for companies. It created a new market space focused on delivering secure company email access to roaming employees. Companies that adopted BlackBerries saved time and money because their staff could now get and send email practically anywhere and any time without having to make trips back to the office. Also, there was no need to install remote client software because RIM offered a turnkey, centralized Enterprise Server and software solution. Since BlackBerries were easy to use and had simple user interfaces and a limited number of contextualized options to choose from, companies also saved training and support costs.

Buyer value was increased because BlackBerries offered high reliability and long battery life, multiple mailboxes at once, and web browsing capability. Traditional PDA functionality such as calendar, address book, and the To Do list were also enhanced along with the included cell phone through smart software that linked these tools and made them easy to use and navigate.

Most importantly, the BlackBerry created a highly secure offering for companies because all emails and their contents could be protected behind their corporate firewalls. If a single device was lost or stolen, the company could easily disable it from its central control server.


The Blue Ocean that RIM created through its BlackBerry grew impressively for many years. Subscribers quadrupled from 2 million in 2004 to 8 million by April 2007, and by 2011 were more than 39 million. The company's sales grew from $6 billion 2008 to $19.9 billion in FY2011. However, the BlackBerry's success in the corporate market has not spread over to the consumer market as effectively, and the firm now faces major competitive and financial challenges that threaten its future survival.