Do RIM Financial Woes Signal Trouble For Canadian Consumers?

It’s an uneasy time for fans of the original smartphone – recent headlines have regularly alluded to the supposed demise of Research In Motion, the Waterloo-based creator of the BlackBerry and former smartphone-industry leader. What started as rumours of RIM being squeezed out of the market have evolved into persistent talk that the tech giant’s days are numbered. Seeing as BlackBerry use was once (and still is) incredibly widespread, news of the company’s financial malaise leaves a lot of contract holders worried. Should the company go under, how will Canadian consumers be affected?

First, some disclosure – I’ve always carried a BlackBerry. I have no agenda or point to make – I’m not anti-Apple or unaware of what else is out there – as so many non-BlackBerry users accuse me of. Honestly, there is no reason for my RIM exclusivity other than that it has just always worked for me. I also take a long time to get used to new technology, so changing to another handheld has always sounded like too much work.

But all the trouble that RIM is going through leaves me wondering if I will have to give up my familiar device. If the company goes bankrupt, will I have no choice?

While RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins has gone on record defending the company, denying that it’s in a “death spiral” (creating the latest PR nightmare for the former Canadian tech darling), dire headlines have me thinking it’s time to start looking for other smartphone options. If you’re like me and have been with your BlackBerry for a while, you may be wondering what the future holds for your handheld device. Here is what you need to know:

RIM Won’t Go Bankrupt Overnight

Despite all its issues, RIM is not going anywhere soon. It could take years for the company to disappear permanently, giving users ample time to find a new smartphone to work with. But that’s not to say everyone is prepared to switch to another phone. If you are worried about the future of your BB, start looking now at all the other options and decide now what works for you and your lifestyle.

 There’s Hope For Your Beloved BlackBerry Yet

Even if the company was to break up or go bankrupt, it’s almost guaranteed some other tech company will buy its BlackBerry arm. The device has been used and trusted by the corporate world for so many years and that history has a value that can’t be measured. Corporate entities – even more than me – are resistant to change, so if another company can provide them with the same product, they will continue with the smartphone employees are already hooked up to.

The Era Of RIM Is Over

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for faithful BlackBerry users, but RIM will probably never reclaim the status it had at the beginning of the millennium. However, respect is still due – RIM made it possible to put computers in the palm of our hands, and took communication to a new level. It’s the curse of competition –  so many other companies sprung up and further perfected the phone and the consumer experience. It’s safe to say RIM’s domination of the smartphone market has ended.

Should All-Time Low Stock Levels Concern Users?

While it’s not time to start using your BlackBerry as a doorstop, and there is a very good chance it’ll have purpose in the years to come, it’s hard to shake concerns of the company’s stock trading at an all time low. Currently at $7.82 (a 95 per cent drop from its 2008 peak), some experts say it could go even lower. In addition, there’s recent pressure for the company to drop the carrier fees that account for one third of its revenue – terrible news for anyone who is invested in the company. But no need to panic just yet – these issues hold little consequence for those who own the handheld today. Just keep in mind – there’s no need to feel guilty if you start poking around to see what other smartphones may be in your future.

PS – Are you a BlackBerry user looking to make a few good financial decisions of your own? Check out our personal finance smartphone app tips!

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