The Missed Opportunity of Blackberry, Research Paper Example
Words: 4928Research Paper
Blackberry, once a popular smart phone on the mobile market is rapidly losing its share and popularity, due to its limited ability to create innovative solutions that respond to the needs of potential customers. RIM was created to provide Blackberry an opportunity for differentiation in the marketplace, but the project failed to create a traction. It seems like the company has stopped listening to customers, and failed to create solutions through innovation that would solve their problems. The below research study will analyse how Blackberry missed the opportunity of creating a competitive advantage, by failing to tailor its innovation portfolio to the trends of the mobile market. The below paper will reveal that Blackberry’s innovation capability has been restricted because of the lack of synchronization within the value-adding process: sourcing, implementing, and marketing.
The Missed Opportunity of Blackberry to Utilize the Respond to the Market’s Needs
Several authors (Lever, 2013; Citron Research, 2014) state that Blackberry has missed the opportunity of becoming and remaining a market leader, by building on its innovation capabilities. Indeed, as Lever (2013:1) puts it: “Once-cool BlackBerry failed to keep pace
with rivals”. The below paper is attempting to investigate the reasons behind the failure of Blackberry to make its RIM (Research in Motion) system appeal to the market, and diversify the solutions offered by the company from those provided by other smart phone manufacturers.
Gustin (2013) states that “BlackBerry’s failure to keep up with Apple and Google was a consequence of errors in its strategy and vision”. The above statement is clearly relevant to the topic of the research, as it focuses on the lack of vision. Without a vision, no innovation reflecting market demands can be made. This means that the company’s innovative capabilities are limited, and it stays behind in the competition. Nair et al. (2014) state that – along with Motorola and Nokia – Blackberry suffered from “collective competence deficiency”, and the lack of innovation capability, anticipatory competence building resulted in the decline of the company’s reputation and market share. In order to make innovation create value for customers, a company needs to listen to its customers, and clearly communicate the benefits of the solutions offered by the devices. The process of decline took several years, therefore, the below study will focus on the main elements of ability, value creation, competitive advantage creation, in order to determine what caused BlackBerry to lose its market share and differentiation features. Just like the study of Nair et al. (2014), the author of the current research would like to focus on the last five year’s decline of competence that led to the current situation.
In a brief summary of Blackberry’s history, Fingas (2013) the author called the Blackberry 10, or RIM Blackberry as an innovation that would decide whether the company can make it or break it. While Blackberry was the first company to use RIM, other companies manufacturing mobile devices were closely behind, such as Apple and Microsoft. The question was not innovation, as the author put it, as the RIM system used on Blackberry 10 was not revolutionary. The real question around the launch was whether or not RIM was able to remain relevant (Fingas, 2013).
The Research in Motion (RIM) was founded back in 1984. The new technology attracted several companies looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by RIM, such as IBM and Ericsson. Between 1995 and 2001 the RIM 900 was developed, the first device that was used for direct communication, followed by the smaller RIM 950. After building smaller messaging devices and starting to use the “Blackberry” name, the devices were still not compatible with popular mobile phones. As Fingas (2013) summarizes it, offering phone services was not the main feature of the device: it was almost accidental. While the first devices (5810, 6710, 8700) were designed with the professional user in mind who needed instant communication with colleagues that was safe enough, there was a market shift that was not noticed in time by Blackbberry, until 2004: the new market segment, the “prosumers” appeared: customers who wanted a Blackberry for personal use. Between 2006 and 2007, the company built Blackberry Pearl, the first phone designed for the general public and the Curve. Blackberry, however, faced a fierce competition that it was not prepared for: the launch of the first iPhone utilizing the much-loved touch screen feature. According to Fingas (2013), Blackberry downplayed the market competition, stating that customers needed a hardware keyboard, and refusing to introduce touch screen, and sticking with the outdated QWERTY technology. After realizing that the company was losing market share, the management decided for a complete overhaul of Blackberry and RIM, introducing the Blackberry Tablet. However, the reputation of RIM continued to decline after 2011, when the company didn’t manage to make the BlackBerry PlayBook a success, and faced a trademark court case that it lost. Today, the market share of Blackberry on the mobile market is negotiable. Indeed, Reed (2014) states that it is “so low that Kantar won’t even report it”.
The purpose of the below research is to determine what led to a successful technology-driven, innovative company losing its significant market share over the past years. Blackberry’s strategic competence, functional capabilities, and competitive advantages will be analyzed using the Conceptual Model of a Dynamic Innovation Competence, evaluating the dynamic capabilities span, measuring the overall performance of the organization, and providing recommendations for the leadership of Blackberry to re-connect with customers, while putting effective innovation in work. The author of the current study has developed working hypotheses based on the research focus as follows:
The author will review the future abilities and dynamic capabilities of the brand RIM Blackberry, based on the research of the literature, case studies, and company strategic documents. The reputation and market positioning of the company will also be evaluated based on a completed smartphone customer survey’s results, distributed among 14 participants who are currently using smart feature enabled devices.
Research of Innovative Capabilities
The proceeding chapter will look into the capabilities built and preserved by Blackberry to differentiate the brand on the market, and create competitive advantage.
According to Nisula & Kianto. (2013), the use of Organizational Renewal Capability Inventory assessment as a measure is a good way of determine a company’s overall innovative capabilities. The authors define inattentiveness as the organization’s capability to renew its resources. Indeed, it is well known that Blackberry is a resource-rich organization with plenty of innovation capabilities, knowledge assets, and experience. Still, it seems like the management is unable to utilize the company’s resources to make the new products appeal to potential customers. Before analyzing the company’s strategy and capabilities, however, it is important to clarify the term of “innovation”. Accordiing to Nisula & Kianto (2013:61), innovation is the “introduction of any value-creating novelty”. The above simple definition will be adapted by the current research, as it focuses on the connection between the innovation and the end user. Innovation that does not reflect the need of the customer will never be successful.
The company’s ability to create innovation depends on six different factors, according to Nisula & Kianto (2013): “strategic compe-tence, exploiting time, leadership, connectivity, learning orientation and knowledge management”. Companies need to respond to rapid market changes and regularly reinvent themselves through innovation, in order to create value for customers. The main sources of a company’s innovation competencies are learning, creation of new assets, the ability to transform existing assets, and co-specialization. Nisula & Kianto (2013) suggest using the Organizational Renewal Capability Inventory method to analyze the overall innovativeness of an organization. Kianto (2010) highlights the fact that the main driver of innovation and creating competitive advantage in today’s technological market is knowledge. This means that the knowledge assets of the company, as well as the management’s ability to utilize existing knowledge determines the firm’s innovative capabilities. As the author (Kianto, 2010: 134) confirms: “in turbulent environments, sustained competitive advantage derives from the firm capabilities for continuously modifying, changing and creating knowledge assets and capabilities through learning and innovation”.
According to Tidd et al. (2005), there is a close, direct relationship between innovation and competitive advantage, with innovation being an essential tool, and competitive advantage being the result. There is also a close relationship between the number of new products and market share. Creating new products and those that the company can differentiate on the marketplace requires innovation. Innovation, however, is impossible without successfully managing knowledge and resources. Products now have shorter life cycles than ever before, and the above statement is definitely true for the smart phone market. The required response of a company for a competitor’s new product is product innovation. As Tidd et al. (2005:6) summarizes the problem that is relevant to RIM’s situation: “unless an organization is able to move into further innovation, it risks being left behind as others take the lead in changing their offerings…”.
Hamid et al. (2012) examined the factors that affect a brand’s public recognition. As the current study is focusing on the reasons behind Blackberry’s market share decline and lack of traction on the smart phone market, as well as customer perceptions about the brand, it is important to examine the factors described by the above mentioned study. The research of Hamid et al. (2012) was using responses from 129 participants, regarding different aspects of the product or brand that would appeal to customers. The importance of brand recognition in relation with profits has been discussed by several authors, such as Samiee, Shimp, & Sharma
(2005), who found that it is one of the most valuable assets of an organization, as a higher brand recognition results in greater customer loyalty, and consequently better sales figures. Brand perception – just like brand recognition is also an important factor of a company’s success. Without a positive brand image, the company is unable to attract customers. Simonson, Carmon and O’curry (1994) clearly state that brand image is important for creating recognition and connection with customers. Product innovation is also listed as one of the main contributing factors to recognition and exceptional performance. The definition quoted by Hamid et al. (2012:76) clearly describes the relationship between innovation and connecting with customers: “Product/service innovation is the result of bringing to life a new way to solve the customer’s problem through a new product or service development that benefits both the customer and the sponsoring company”. Finally, product quality determines the perceived value provided for the customer through the product or service. Companies that emphasize the quality and reliability of their products, as well as the functionality of their features can justify a higher price and increase their profit margin.
The next area that needs to be studied before the analysis of Blackberry’s innovation capabilities can be analyzed is knowledge management. When a company is able to successfully manage and utilize its greatest asset, knowledge, it can increase its innovation capabilities almost instantly. Akram et al. (2011) used a different definition to describe innovation than the ones quoted above, emphasizing that the main role of innovation in any organization is to create value for the company. However, creating value for the company is impossible without offering value for customers, and solutions for their problems. Quoting a research based on interviews with CEO-s, the authors state that it is common knowledge among leaders of innovative companies that “the strongest weapon to compete in market is their innovative products and processes” (Akram et al, 2011: 123), according to 75 percent of respondents. Innovation can be radical or incremental. Incremental modification of the product through innovation is the most likely route that Blackberry should have taken or should take in the future.
The relationship between knowledge management and innovation is described as a direct and indirect one by Akram et al. (2011). Parlby and Taylor (2000) goes further than the above statement, and confirm that the innovation is the goal, while knowledge management is the tool used for creating innovation. The research created by Akram et al. (2011) examined three different hypotheses, and one is particularly relevant to the current study: “H2: product innovation will be positively associated with brand recognition”. Based on the results of the research, the above hypothesis was confirmed, and the authors found that there is a strong positive correlation between innovative capabilities and brand recognition. As the research findings summarize it: “a product which does not align itself with latest needs and trends of the users is likely to be wiped out” (Akram et al., 2011:80).
Romijn & Albaladejo (2002) reviewed the determinants of innovation capabilities in the small electronic device market of South England. The conceptual model of innovation capabilities brings forward a new idea, by diversifying between internal and external sources. Internal sources of innovation can be described as the professional background of leaders, the skills (knowledge and expertise) of the workforce, and the company’s internal efforts, policies, and initiatives to improve the technology. The external sources of innovation can be the intensity of networking within the industry, the proximity advantages, and the receipt of institutional support. The product innovation index, based on the level of novelty, used to determine the level of innovative capabilities within an organization uses a scale that can be useful for the current research. Further, the authors indicate that the number of major product innovations, the number of patents, and the product innovation index determine the company’s capabilities to transform itself to suit the needs of customers better.
A company can create strategic advantages through innovation, according to Tidd et al. (2005). They can create novelty in product or service offering, in processes, complexity, legal protection of intellectual property, and by adding or extending competitive factors. There are different types of innovation listed by the author, based on which area of the market it takes place: product, process, position, or paradigm. There is one particular type of innovation that the authors mention that is clearly relevant to the current case: repositioning the product’s perception. It has been noted above that Blackberry and RIM were developed as business communication tools, while they became popular among those who wanted a mobile device for personal use. The missed opportunity of Blackberry might be the company’s inability to reposition the brand, and one of the aims of the current research is to determine whether or not this is the case.
Cecere (2014) talks about the mobile market in particular, and states that the importance of the “dominant design” is greater than researchers and company leaders would imagine. As Blackberry stuck to the different design and refused to adapt touch screen technology until the last minute, this can be a reason why the brand lost its popularity.
The reasons why companies find it hard to adapt to changes of the external environment, according to a recent review by the Future Orientation website (2015) are high clock speed, ignorance, and inertia. High clock speed results in greater rate of change, shorter product life cycles, higher required speed of innovation, and faster diffusion of innovation. This confirms Hypothesis 3: Research in Motion’s slow innovation (compared to competitors’ speed) has resulted in the rapid loss of Blackberry’s market share. Ignorance includes short-term orientation, internal focus instead of attempting to serve customer needs, information overload, and filtering of ideas by middle management. Inertia is created by complex internal structures, barriers against cannibalization, and complex external structures.
Application of Theories on the Current Case
Based on the above literature review, it is important to analyze the strategy of Blackberry (RIM) in the light of innovation. A recent study on the global smart phone market has highlighted the fact that Blackberry (RIM) started off with a market share of 8.3 percent in the mobile market back in 2007, which rose to over 20 percent in 2009, and declined to 0.4 percent today (Statista, 2015). The decline of market share is significant, and can be explained by the lack of innovation capability within RIM (Wharton University of Pennsylvania, 2011). Last year, Blackberry only came out with a couple of new models, while Samsung released several dozen, to suit customers’ needs and cover a greater segment of the market. A recent Wharton article (2011), the delay in introducing a new operation system and making it compatible with older devices has created a negative brand reputation, which, in turn, affects customer loyalty. The lack of innovation has also affected product transitions, and according to the analysts, created an “Osbourne effect”. Quoting a research analysis by professor Saikat Chaudhuri, the article (Wharton, 2011) confirms that “(Nokia and RIM) could have done a better job on the product and portfolio management side”. It has already been mentioned and confirmed that one of the determinants of innovative capabilities is the number of patents. RIM had fewer patents filed than Ericsson and Apple, however, the patent life span of RIM inventions is significantly longer than other companies’ (Gara, 2013). This indicates that the company could build upon this advantage to improve its key performance indicators and increase the return on research investment (ROI). For that, however, there is a need for reviewing the competitive strategy of the firm based on statistical data and comparison with other market players.
Dynamic Capabilities Framework Analysis
Blackberry has a tradition of innovative approach, and could build upon sharing knowledge. As the company started off with offering professional communication and collaboration tools, it has the expertise of implementing its own technology in the organization to increase one of the main drivers of innovation: shared knowledge.
The “Internet of Things” is an innovative solution that could offer a chance of diversification for RIM on the marketplace. However, this innovation is not appealing to customers who are using the device for personal calls and communication, therefore, a repositioning of the brand is needed. The reputation of the company among existing customers is likely to determine the perceived value of the products offered by RIM, as the previous research of the literature has confirmed. The main task of Blackberry, however, is to successfully communicate the benefits of the features offered by the “Internet of Things” to target customers.
Transforming existing assets
Blackberry’s Research in Motion technology has endless capabilities, and it can be implemented for new products, such as wearable technology, just like it has been implemented when the PlayBook was created. As the owner of the patent, the company should find new ways of delivering value to customers through Research in Motion.
As the market share of Blackberry has been declining in the past five years, it is important to find technology partners that do not only support, but also drive innovation. Partnering with companies that have an insider knowledge about the company’s target market would benefit both firms.
Analysis of Competitive Advantages through SWOT Analysis of RIM
|Excellent reputation among corporate clients
Compatibility with all networks
Security of devices and operating system
Backing from government agencies
|Single track focus
Operation system size and complicated use
Lack of customer focus
|Large loyal customer base to research and build innovation on
Integration of third party apps
Implementing RIM in future wearable technologies
|Low employee morale due to redundancy
Challenges of knowledge sharing and culture
Lack of traction
Not adopting the dominant design of technological devices
Sourcing, implementing, and marketing innovation is another challenge that Blackberry is facing at the moment. Indeed, the lack of profits has put a stop on future innovation. The direction for the future is not clearly defined by Blackberry. The marketing strategy is not able to target the right customers, and Blackberry cannot compete with other companies on price. Changing the marketing strategy of the company, however, requires a clear direction, and thorough research of the marketplace. As a recent analysis by Teh (2013) has highlighted, the 5 forces analysis of Blackberry shows a high intensity of rivalry, and a high bargaining power of buyers. There is also a significant threat of substitute products. This means that Blackberry’s creator, RIM needs to create a competitive advantage based on its existing assets of innovation and knowledge.
Leadership has a great impact on organizational culture and innovation capabilities. As Nisula & Kianto (2013:71) confirm, leadership has an influence on internal and external communication, and consequently it affects the organization’s ability to solve issues and overcome challenges. Social learning is an idea that could be implemented in a company like RIM that has a tradition for innovation. Based on the research created by the authors (Nisula & Kianto, 2013), learning from experience, continuous improvement, a clear direction, and purposefulness can improve the company’s key performance indicator (KPI). Further, advanced knowledge management and an environment where sharing knowledge is a part of the company’s culture can result in better overall performance and abilities to innovate.
Management Summary of key points
One of the main problems that Blackberry is currently facing is fierce competition and lack of innovation capabilities. The internal conditions of the company, based on the financial issues related to the loss of market share created a negative atmosphere. The external environment of the company, based on the SWOT analysis created is extremely competitive, and the bargaining power of customers, as well as the threat of substitute products create a challenge for Blackberry. It has been noted that the company currently only holds a market share of 0.4 percent in the smart phone market, despite offering functions that are not available through other devices. The company’s offering of security has allowed Blackberry to maintain government contracts, however, it lost its exclusive contracts (Kerr, 2012). The U.S. government is still preferring the security features of Blackberries for email communication, however, they are reaching out to companies with greater innovation capability, such as Apple and Google. At the same time, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has already switched to iPhones (Kerr, 2012). In order to gain trust from existing and new potential customers, Blackberry will need to get out of the habit of “internal focus” and listen to the market’s needs. The results of the RIM survey created have revealed the problematic areas of Blackberry brand’s perception.
None of the respondents of the first part of the survey would have chosen Blackberry as their next smartphone. Iphone’s popularity was a hundred percent, as the company was successful in implementing a marketing strategy that was built on product differentiation and the communication of constant innovation. Samsung, holding the second largest market share had four votes out of 14. It also needs to be noted that the number of iPhone owners was the same as the number of participants who wanted an iPhone as a next device, and the same is true for Samsung. It is also clearly visible that Blackberry’s brand recognition is below its competitors’ , and it has previously been confirmed that brand reputation and recognition are closely related to brand loyalty, financial performance, and has a great impact on KPI (Hamid et al., 2012). Some of the terms commonly associated with the brand Blackberry were: secure, used by politicians, and business oriented. This indicates that Blackberry as a brand’s image is professional, and it is not appealing to the public at all. Hypothesis 2, therefore, was also confirmed by the results: The management of Blackberry is ineffective in communicating the benefits of the product for end users. Two of the answers to question 9 in Part 1 clearly stated that the participant would not buy a Blackberry because of the lack of innovation in design, functionality, and features. This result confirms Hypothesis 1:Blackberry’s devices are not considered to be innovative, different, and good value for money. 9 out of 14 respondents believed that Blackberry was a device only for business. However, half of the participants also thought that the brand represented a high quality.
Focusing even more on brand reputation and brand image, the second part of the survey measured smartphone customers’ perception of the devices created by RIM. The majority of respondents believed that the brand was business-oriented, for professionals, and more functional than fun. None of the participants associated the device with social connections, and only one believed that it was suitable for delivering entertainment. Interestingly, five respondents believed that the brand was innovative, and seven thought Blackberry to be conservative. It is, however, important to note that the majority of the survey respondents used their mobile devices for entertainment and communication, and only three out of 14 people used it solely for work. Given the size of the Android and iPhone marketplace, and the number of apps available, it is important to note that 10 out of 14 respondents believed that the software was important, while the quantity of apps was relevant to 5 respondents. Blackberry’s app market has a limited number of apps, due to the high security requirements that are not implemented by Google or iOS. Richardson (2014) states that Blackberry is tightening its requirements to “ensure that submitted applications meet the required security criteria”.
Conclusions based on analysis
Based on the above analysis of competitive forces and innovative capabilities, it is clear that RIM behind the brand Blackberry is facing a brand identity crisis, and the problem of slow innovation. Brand loyalty is low, and it is high among competitors, according to the results of the survey.
It is recommended that the company creates a market research in order to determine the target market’s needs and expected innovations.
The brand needs to be re-positioned on the marketplace to appear professional and fun at the same time.
The company needs to utilize collective social learning, by creating and sharing a strong vision for the future that employees can relate to, in order to create a culture of innovation.
Blackberry needs to look for future trends where it can create innovative solutions using the RIM technology, such as wearable devices.
A marketing strategy needs to be drawn up to increase brand recognition, emphasize product benefits, and increase differentiation of the brand from competitors.
Discussion of implications to the organisation
By completing the above steps, Research in Motion could successfully create solutions that respond to market needs and the needs of customers. It could increase its brand recognition, brand reputation, and – consequently – market share.
Limitations/Implications/Comments for Future Research
The above research study was limited to only a few aspects of the management, and did not take into consideration the financial constraints. The survey was distributed to a small sample of participants, and it was not representative. It is recommended that Blackberry’s management utilizes online and offline market research tools to find out more about the preferences of their target customers.
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