I’ve been pretty harsh on Research in Motion lately, going so far as to name the co-CEOs the worst CEOs of the Year.
They proved they earned it with the release of third-quarter earnings the other day, especially with the announcement of a delay until late next year for the company’s newest phone, the BlackBerry 10.
I believe the delay of the new phone, for Research in Motion , means game over.
Early in the days of smartphones, I was a fan of Palm. I loved getting email on my phone. I loved accessing the Internet. I loved my Palm Treo.
When friends were getting BlackBerrys and even iPhones, I was still singing the praises of my Palm (in denial, no doubt, about the lack of push email and the painfully slow Internet access).
But pretty soon it became clear the Palm was losing steam. The iPhone’s elegance and speed, especially for browsing, had been a game changer.
When my two-year contract was up, I began looking at alternatives. Early adopter that I am not, I switched to a BlackBerry, but not any BlackBerry — the BlackBerry Storm. This was RIM’s first touch-screen phone. Everybody hated it, except me. I liked it so much that after two years, on the day the first Androids were coming out, I bought a Storm2.
It worked for me, but I kept complaining about one thing: the browser. It was agonizingly slow to open. I cheated the system by downloading the speedy Opera browser, but it was a battery hog.
Still, I kept with my Storm until I had had enough. It’s one thing to get emails on your phone, it’s another to have links that take forever to open. (Think of that scene toward the end of "The Blues Brothers" when they’re racing the deadline to deliver the cash and they’re on a slow elevator with Muzak playing in the background.) I’d get so frustrated I’d shake the phone to make it go faster. (No, that doesn’t help.)
This time, when my contract was up, I got an Android. I’m a Verizoncustomer and at the time they didn’t have the iPhone. I didn’t even want to give the new BlackBerry phones with the new, speedier operating system a try.
I haven’t looked back. I have a company-issued BlackBerry Bold with the agonizingly slow browser, but other than its size and battery life — and sometimes its keyboard — I prefer the Android. When upgrade time comes, which will be soon, I’ll either get the new Nexus or one of the other Androids. (I’d even consider the iPhone 4s, but I really like the free turn-by-turn navigation on Google Maps, which you can only get on an Android, and the easy sync with Gmail, my Google calendar and other aspects of the Google ecosystem.)
My point is this: By the time better BlackBerrys with a newer operating system and fast browsers were out, I was gone. So were many others (though, interestingly enough, when very hip rapper 50 Centwas at CNBC a few months ago, he had his picture taken with me using what looked like his BlackBerry Torch!). My guess is that by the time the BlackBerry 10 is out, especially with delays, many existing BlackBerry users will be gone, too.
We’ve seen this movie before. Not a happy ending.
Questions? Comments? Write to HerbOnTheStreet@cnbc.com