Research in Motion. It's clear now that RIM is all but a doomed company, though it has one last chance with its 2012 BlackBerry reboot. For several years, the company ignored the changes in the mobile market wrought by the iPhone and its app- and user-centric approach to computing on the go. At first, RIM kept touting its superior security technology (a worthy claim, but few companies actually need), then started also pushing the idea the the BlackBerry was a great platform for gaming and even music. Talk about a mixed message!
Of course, the highly distinct hardware platforms comprising the BlackBerry product portfolio -- with huge differences in screen sizes, text input, and touch support -- made it impossible to develop satisfactory games and other apps across all these devices. Thus, a shrinking platform fragments, trying to compete with the huge iOS and Android markets, whose internal differences were nowhere as significant. The BlackBerry hardware was also underpowered for significant apps, and RIM limited the most recent OS update to just the new, more powerful models released in September, creating further fragmentation -- a crazy strategy in a world where carrier contracts run two years and users can't realistically replace hardware faster than that.
The truth is there is no unified BlackBerry platform as there is with iOS. Even the Android's infamous fragmentation looks like minor variations when compared to BlackBerry divisions; there are a bunch of BlackBerrys with varying levels of compatibility. The forthcoming BlackBerry 10 OS is supposed to change all that for a new generation of BlackBerrys -- it had better.
Then there was the fiasco of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Underpowered like BlackBerry smartphones, the device also required the use of a BlackBerry smartphone to access email and instant messaging, as well as to gain the corporate security RIM kept pushing as its fundamental product advantage. As pundits like me warned a half year before the PlayBook's release, the result was a tablet that could do little on its own and became essentially just a bigger screen for a BlackBerry when wirelessly tethered.
Change is hard, I know, but if you don't change, you die. RIM has refused to change, though now it seems to be finally trying with its grand plans for a new BlackBerry 10 OS based on that QNX-derived version developed for the unsatisfying PlayBook. As a result, its market share continues to plummet and developers' interest has evaporated. If BlackBerry 10 ends up being more of the same, I'm convinced RIM will have to be a seller of message-optimized Windows Phone devices for the BlackBerry to survive. 2012 is RIM's chance to go from being a turkey to a phoenix.
The technology press. I've gone apoplectic several times this past year watching the parade of obviously false iPhone 5 and iPad 3 stories appear on practically every tech news site, as well as many general news outlets. It's as if the journalism community decided to hell with truth and became Weekly World News wannabes in their quest for that Holy Grail of page views. I need page views too, but I don't believe I have to fake stories or, worse, copy others' fake stories to get them.
This abdication of professional practice -- which may have started with untrained bloggers but quickly became adopted by mainstream journalists -- ironically led to a big letdown in the same media when the iPhone 4S was announced. The reality of the upgraded product couldn't match the fiction they built up over the course of a year. Perhaps trained to believe none of us any more, buyers snapped up the iPhone 4S in droves, causing supplies to run out quickly. Ironically, it was the stock market -- that once-rationalizing economic force that has become an emotion-driven roller-coaster ride -- that reacted in the most damaging way, pummeling Apple's stocks when Apple said its iPhone sales had declined more than usual before a new release because the incessant rumors caused a higher proportion of buyers to wait.