BlackBerry smartphone maker Research in Motion (RIM) has seen its share price declining steadily over the past weeks, in the wake of a disastrous outage of its BBM messaging and other services. But now it has fallen so far that its total stock value is worth less than the value of its patents and other real-world assets.
While market jitters were not calmed by the firm's announcement that the new version of its tablet, the Playbook 2.0, would be pushed back, it's the outage on its data network that has knocked confidence in the company. For three, BlackBerry owners across Europe, the Middle East and certain other regions were unable to use BBM or access the internet. This was such a PR disaster for the firm that it now faces a class action lawsuit over the problem.
RIM should have learned a lesson from Sony's PlayStation Network outage: what customers really want is up-to-date information about what's being done, and when they could expect a fix. RIM instead decided it would keep the majority of information hidden from consumers, repeatedly telling them that the network was working again when it wasn't.
The pushing back of the PlayBook 2 is thought to be because of the increased competition in the tablet market. The company's original PlayBook has sold very poorly, with RIM being forced to cut prices and even offer the device on a 'buy two get one free' basis, to little success.
While BlackBerrys have seen a resurgence of cool in Europe and the UK, the brand has seen a loss of status in the US, where RIM failed to respond adequately to the stampeding growth of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android devices.