The current generation of Blackberry products are failing for the same reason the N64 was a failure. I have some thoughts about this topic.
- Legacy Success - Nintendo dominated console gaming with the NES and later with the Super NES. They assumed the same would happen with the N64 out of past success and past success. Blackberry dominated the smart phone market and assumed it would just continue indefinitely. It didn’t, you can’t be satisfied with past successes.
- Ignoring Developers - Development for the N64 was a pain because making games for cartridges ate into margins and increased the costs for game developers and publishers. Nintendo ignored this because they figured people would just follow along and develop for them in mass numbers anyways. After all, they figured their 1st party games like Mario and Zelda would be enough. They were wrong. RIM’s legacy mobile OS is clunky and terrible, but Exchange granted them the only advantage they would ever need. They assumed that their proprietary email system was all they needed and ignored the fact that they weren’t developer friendly. It turns out mobile app developers were important.
Things that are different between Nintendo and RIM
Nintendo had talented in-house personnel that were encouraged to be creative and innovate. That’s why they were able to resurrect with the Wii. Blackberry seems content on copying after the fact; this won’t work though. Copying doesn’t work unless your product is less expensive. Android based smartphones manufacturers that play copycat to Apple have success because their products are cheaper. When they are priced similarly (like with tablets), they are utter failures. The PS1 was successful because the all in package was cheaper than the N64. The PS2 was technologically superior and reasonably priced. The PS3 is lost its entire advantage over the Xbox360 because its premium pricing over no significant value-add to consumers.
Blackberry needs to key in on their place in the world. If they want to be innovative, then premium pricing works. If they are content with a copy cat strategy, they need to start lowering the prices of all their products to compete on price. Otherwise, they will die.
Additional notes: The all-in cost was much more expensive because Nintendo ignored developers concerns about the price associated with cartridges (as opposed to CDs which were a fraction of the cost to produce). Blackberry also has higher costs for 3rd party developers - mostly because of an outdated OS which in turn led to more time and effort being required out of engineers/developers to create apps for their platform.
The cost of producing an N64 cartridge was far higher than producing a CD. Publishers had to pass these higher expenses to the consumer and as a result, N64 games tended to sell for higher prices than PlayStation games. While most PlayStation games rarely exceeded US$50, N64 games could reach US$79.99, such as the first pressing of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Games in Sony’s line of PlayStation Greatest Hits budget line retailed for US$19.95, while Nintendo’s equivalent Player’s Choice line retailed for US$29.95. In the United Kingdom, N64 games were priced £54.95 at their time of release, while PlayStation games were priced at £44.95. In the United States games were priced at around roughly $49.99 at the time of their release.