Fans of the Lincoln-Kennedy coincidences can appreciate similarly contrived dynamics in comparing Nokia and RIM (neither of which, contrary to the occasionally expressed opinion, has been murdered despite “Apple and Android” consisting of three words and 15 letters). Both companies are former smartphone market share leaders — RIM in North America, Nokia globally. Both have had success in developing economies with efficient operating systems that they plan to support indefinitely. Both developed reputations for high build quality and good antenna design, and both were initially dismissive of the iPhone as they continue to see Android as the path to commoditization. And after precipitous market share declines, both hired new CEOs. Nokia, a European company, hired a CEO raised in Canada. RIM, a Canadian company, hired a CEO raised in Europe. These men now struggle with keeping their companies part of a viable alternative to the two dominant marketplace offerings.
Since embarking on their new operating system strategies, though, there have been many contrasts. While Nokia hired an outsider as a CEO, RIM hired an insider. Nokia decided to adopt a licensed OS; RIM decided to build its own (based largely on acquisitions). And now that both the Mobile World Congress and BlackBerry World conferences have passed, there’s an opportunity to assess their comeback progress.