RIM: Wait! Don’t Switch! Buy Our New Stuff Instead!

According to a recent statement from RIM, business customers who aren’t completely satisfied with their BlackBerrys must be working with outdated hardware. Their answer to these customers’ woes? Just get a new BlackBerry .

My response? Make them want one.

Let’s back up a bit. The customers RIM refers to were ones surveyed by a research firm called Enterprise Management Associates. Two days ago, the EMA released a study that dissected BlackBerry’s corporate userbase, and posited that enterprise and small business users would soon be leaving the platform in droves.

The key cause, according to their release, was customer satisfaction (or lack thereof). A scant 16% of those queried said that they were fully satisfied with their devices, compared to 44% of iPhone users. The kicker? EMA’s research was conducted before RIM’s multi-continent outage. Though the outage reportedly didn’t affect enterprise customers, one has to wonder how RIM’s reputation is holding up.

In reference to their recent device releases, RIM has said that they “are the fastest, most powerful BlackBerry smartphones yet and we encourage comparisons with these current BlackBerry smartphones versus earlier models.”

Here’s where RIM’s argument gets stuck in the mud: they don’t need to prove to their customers that their new devices outperform their old ones. They need to prove that their new devices can fill their customers needs better than any other device out there, and that’s getting to be a tougher proposition every time a new smartphone launches.

To say that enterprise smartphone competition is getting stiffer would probably be the understatement of the month. RIM spent the first half of this past decade positioning their myriad BlackBerrys as the de facto business phone, and then scrambled to make them a viable mainstream choice in the second.

Meanwhile, more consumer-friendly devices have gone in the opposite direction — creating hardware and software that people are excited about, and making them work in business environments. To wit, we couldn’t sit through the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Droid Razr launch events without getting an earful on how they fit into business situations as well as personal ones.

The business space is one that RIM can’t afford to alienate. RIM’s priority at this point has to be about providing a compelling upgrade path for all those corporate customers who are considering jumping ship. It’s not an impossible task for RIM, but it’s only made more difficult by the handful of recent issues that have painted them in a particularly dim light.

They have just recently revealed the BBX operating system at DevCon 2011, and it may well be the panacea that the folks in Waterloo have been praying for. I certainly hope so — I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been harsh on RIM recently, but what I haven’t mentioned is that it’s because I used to be a huge fan. I cut my teeth on a BlackBerry Pearl, and jumped for joy when I worked my way up to a BlackBerry Tour. RIM has worked their BlackBerry portfolio to the top of the business heap once, and they can stay there so long as they axe the small stuff and put their game faces on again.