Dear RIM,

(I hope you will receive this message via social media, since the decision you’re making has important consequences for your customers).

I’m speaking for myself and, to some extent, for all RIM customers. (Naturally, I encourage other customers to voice their own views.)

First, I want to thank you for the work you’ve done to date. I’ve been a loyal RIM customer and a brand ambassador when given the opportunity. Over the past two years, however, I’ve thought many times about switching to an iPhone or another competitor’s device.

While I continue to be happy with some of the features that sold me on you in the first place: amazing email functionality, superior security and your keyboard (I have a Bold 9900, and dig the device), I believe it’s high time RIM provides its customers some new reasons to remain loyal.

There was a great article in the NYT this weekend on Apple’s manufacturing which demonstrated the incredible emphasis Apple has on anticipating consumers’ needs during product development. It would be impossible for an Apple customer to read the article and not feel that Apple cares deeply about their product experience, considering even how their phone’s going to fare when placed in their pocket next to their housekeys. It’s a good read on American manufacturing that also touches on margins, work ethics and more.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

I don’t have any special knowledge of RIM’s product development methodology and so can’t make a comparison. If RIM is working in similar fashion to Apple, planning a future with its customers based on their needs, I’d be glad to know about it. The way I see it, RIM and I are and have been in a relationship. I suppose I’m asking what RIM’s commitment to me is and what it’s done for me lately.

Relationships involve getting better at what you’re already really good at, learning what the other person really wants from you and then working on being more of whatever that is. For RIM, this should involve embracing niche markets and developing more of what they want.

I’m not going to give a full list of what I need from RIM right now but there are undoubtedly areas for improvement that benefit us both. These have to include merchant abilities (possibly in the works), a secured merchant app so I can have outside sales reps for my software company accept payments. One new reason why this is important is that Square, one of the most popular services, isn’t available for Blackberry https://help.squareup.com/customer/portal/articles/140388-can-i-use-square-with-my-blackberry- This would really make us both happier. Mobile merchant services is not a bad look considering…

I feel we aren’t communicating well. Maybe you have plans I’m not aware of—things that would allow me to worry less and be more enthusiastic about our future. I know, financially, you’re stressed out right now. Frankly, it’s that way for a lot of companies, so know you’re not alone and you’re in a better place than many others, I’m here to support you for the long haul. However, you can’t ignore that I’ve made plenty of sacrifices to be in this relationship. It’s time for you to reciprocate by making some compromises of your own.

I think it would be cool to see you working on a highly publicized incubator to build enhancements to the Blackberry experience. Make it fun, challenging (independent of your existing culture) and really focus this on utilization of existing customers; score us and the ROI on each of us.

You can’t be everything to everyone, so prioritizing our relationship right now is pretty important. Think beyond startups. Look for mobile companies and software that will really benefit your customers and help them provide products to us (Right now, they’re almost all very focused on Apple IOS and Android, understandably so). When I say “highly publicized,” I don’t mean a reality show, I mean publicized on social media and communicated to me and my friends and then their friends…because that’s how it works. Think Kickstarter concepts for RIM (not literally); source the interest from me, don’t be afraid to ask. You haven’t asked about me in a long time.

Another idea, Vlingo! I used the Christmas credit you gave me (thank you!) so it was free. That was cool because I was already testing the free trial, is there a way to work more closely with them? Are you already doing that? They’re the same company as Siri, right, but I tested Siri and, well, Vlingo needs work but has potential. I would just be cautious on advertising it too soon, I think there’s a way to find out what help Vlingo may need, what challenges they have, and what it would take for Vlingo deliver the best version possible to Blackberry users and then make it happen!

Well RIM you know how to reach me…

Cheers –

Brian Rice

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