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Timeline: RIM's very bad year

From the PlayBook to a massive outage, RIM couldn't catch a break in 2011

By Brad Reed, Network World
December 16, 2011 01:32 PM ET
RIM's PlayBook tablet has been no iPad killer, but has killed RIM's bottom line.

Network World - You get the feeling that executives in Research in Motion will especially relish singing "Should old acquaintance be forgot" this year.

That's because 2011 was truly a year to forget for the Canadian smartphone manufacturer, as the company experienced product delays, network outages and declining profits. In this timeline we'll look back on RIM's year to forget, from its initial fumbles with the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer to its latest subpar earnings report released yesterday.

ANALYSIS: How RIM is getting left behind

Will RIM survive?

January 2011: RIM started the year still having the second-most used smartphone operating system in the United States, as Nielsen reported that the iPhone OS accounted for 28.6% of the U.S. smartphone market share, followed closely by BlackBerry OS (26.1%) and Google's Android (25.8%). This lead over Android was not to last, however.

April 2011: RIM launched the PlayBook weeks after Apple released its second iteration of its iPad device. As released, the device was not ready for primetime as it lacked stand-alone email, contact or calendar capabilities and had to rely on having a "bridge" connection with a BlackBerry smartphone in order to have these critical applications. RIM also warned investors that its first-quarter earnings were going to be lower than analysts had expected.

June 2011: RIM announced that it was going to delay releasing its new BlackBerry Bold smartphone to upgrade its hardware. An anonymous RIM executive released an open letter to the Boy Genius Report where he detailed the sources of the company's recent struggles. IDC said that BlackBerry OS now ranked fourth among smartphone operating systems and was expected to stay there through 2015.

July 2011: RIM said it would lay off 2,000 employees, or roughly 11% of its workforce.

August 2011: RIM released its first new smartphones to run on the BlackBerry 7 operating system, the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and the BlackBerry Torch 9850. The OS features a technology called BlackBerry Balance that allows users and IT departments to erect a firewall between personal and corporate data on devices so that end users have more personal freedom to run their own apps while ensuring that corporate data doesn't get compromised.

September 2011: Nielsen reported that Android's market share had surged to 43% of the smartphone market in the U.S., while RIM's had declined to a mere 18%. Apple's iOS remained steady at 28%.

October 2011: RIM's data services suffered a massive worldwide outage that lasted for four days. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said the outage occurred on Oct. 10 when a dual-redundant, dual-capacity core switch failed and its backup switch failed to activate. This then caused an enormous backlog of unsent data and thus caused a "cascade failure" of RIM data systems throughout the world.

Additionally, a survey released by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that 30% of BlackBerry users in enterprises of 10,000 employees or more planned to switch to a different platform over the next year. EMA said this would lead to a significant reduction of RIM's market share in large enterprises, which currently stood at 52%.

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