Should Blackberry Get in the Businesses of eBooks and Netbooks?

The new Google (GOOG) Nexus One phone is another example of a tech company crossing into a new, yet related, sector. While reading many reviews of the NexusOne, I noticed many critics called Blackberry (RIMM) the biggest loser. Such a storm of similar comments begs the question whether Research in Motion should start thinking of themselves more like a data transmission device company and less like a smart phone company.

We all know there are many Darwinian aspects to business. When considering the long-term picture, no one can be sure whether the ultimate devices will evolve from netbooks, tablets, or smart phones. Moreover, each of these devices offer top brands a chance to compete for more revenue.

In the case of Research in Motion, the company is clearly one of the premier brands on the face of the earth. However, as Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Google, and Sony (SNE) have been innovating into new categories, Research in Motion (RIMM) has been maintaining strict focus on smart phone devices.

There are landfills full of stock certificates from companies which refused to adapt to the bigger picture. Although Research in Motion has excellent management and superior products, why are they hesitating to produce an eReader and build an eBook library? Why are they denying their most loyal customers the opportunity to carry a sexy Blackberry netbook to the next meeting in the conference room?

Surely, there is much money to be made. Just think of what Coca-Cola (KO) would have been if much earlier it thought of itself as a beverage company instead of a soda company (e.g., they may have bought a young Starbucks (SBX))?

Blackberry has a comparable brand to Apple. Users are very loyal and willing to pay a premium for the status of the brand. There is no need to rush into new sectors like fools, but there is no need to lose the opportunity cost of copying Apple’s successful model. In 2010, I’d love to see Research in Motion surprise the world and guarantee their long-term survival in the data transmission device industry.

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