The once powerful giants had fallen. New blood and an invigorated rival had these goliaths. So much so that surpassed them to their scaled heights seemed impossible. But in the world of business where nothing is constant, the future is an open field as long as the moves are right.
Microsoft dominated the operating system battle and so did RIM in the smart phone market. This was untill Apple and Google came in and chalked out their own territories and drew new battle lines. And Microsoft and RIM saw themselves outside the boundary line, watching their dominance crumble, like mere spectators.
I don’t intend to get into the history of how things evolved to where it stands right now. But I see both Microsoft and Blackberry (ex-RIM) ready to battle out and claim their own stakes in this battle to reign in the mobile space. Simple put, the future is about mobility and the winner takes it all. The looser is doomed to perish. It’s as brutal as it can get in the world of business.
RIM rechristened itself to Blackberry and got a new lineup of phones and a well designed operating system in place. Microsoft and putting all its bets on Windows 8 and has enough dough to pump in and get the new life into an otherwise stagnated operating system. Its has new alliances and with that a new line of products coming out both in the desktop and the mobile space. To their credit Windows 8 is unique and seems to be trying hard to look different and give users an experience that’s very 8-ish.
So will it work for these two now? I think the answer lies in what your competitors are doing, and doing so correctly. It’s in developing an ecosystem for the users. An experience that flows from the hardware to the operating system to the softwares (or Apps) that work on the device platform. And from what we have learned from the Android and iOS battle is that it’s all about the App Store. User crave for apps and the more that you have to offer, the better. Android for one didn’t even care if an app was as useless as loading something that turned on the device LED. Apps of all kinds were on the store. It was all about number. ‘We got a million apps’, wow! like the users care. Actually, the developer community did. Developers swarm around a platform like flies to a light if they know its going to make them some money. They would make an app for a platform if its being consumed by a lot of people. The platform and thereby its users are a market for the developer. Selling your app becomes that much easier when there is only one store from where people are buying stuff.
Blackberry and Microsoft failed early on (and so did Symbian) as their platforms were either not developer friendly or were not enticing to the developer community to go ahead and make apps for. So have they learned from their mistakes. I think they do. But the catch is in getting the same developer community to start making apps for their ecosystem. Both Blackberry and RIM are going great length in supporting the developer and making it a lot more developer-friendly and commercially lucrative to build apps on.
But will it work? That’s another story. It will depend on how excited the consumers get with the new offerings. A consumer would be excited to see how many of their favorite apps are available on the new platforms. Absence of their favorite app on these stores would be a let down and probably might make you go against a purchase decision or probably word-of-mouth publicity.
So will the once upon a time market leaders be able to pull it off? I believe they would. The bigger question is, will hey evolve and not stagnate like they did before. One thing that this market space has taught us is that you can never rest even if you are at the top. Period!