The whole time I was reading this article on Best Buy failing I was thinking of RIM. There is a lot for a business owner to learn from these businesses.

The story of both companies starts the same. A scrappy upstart fights and fights to stay ahead. Through a bit of luck and enormous drive they eventually succeed.

In the later years (which we are currently in) both companies seem to be totally out of touch with their market. RIM continually shows it has no idea what people want in a phone and Best Buy was so slow to the line with their online stores others ate their lunch.

Both companies failed to see the markets shift. The founders of RIM famously talked down the iPhone as it started to sweep up all of their customers. RIM has continually delayed BB 10, till it’s becoming as big a joke as Duke Nukem forever or TextMate 2. No matter how much you hype it to developers, if it’s not shipped it’s vaporware.

Schulze (Best Buy) seems to think that closing big box stores is a bad idea since it will reduce user choice. Dick, users have lots of choice online already and they can shop from the comfort of their home. At home they don’t have to stand in an aisle looking for a product while watching 3 teenage employees laugh about drinking last night (as was my experience last weekend).

Ultimately both companies suffered from bad management at the top. Best Buy totally missed (or was late with a strategy) online purchasing. Amazon and other competitors jumped in and ate their lunch.

RIM missed the iPhone, then missed Android, and even missed Windows Phone. All 3 companies (well maybe not Microsoft so much) are eating the RIM lunch right now.

And this Means????

The big take away for business owners is, don’t be afraid to canabalize current products. Sure opening an online store would have eaten in to the on site purchases for Best Buy. Yes getting in to a more consumer like phone would have turned off RIM’s corporate clients. Looking back now, those were the choices that should have been made (and yes hindsight is 20/20).

Yes RIM had a management shake up, and Dick Schulze is working to regain control of the company he founded. There does seem to be a last light of hope for the companies. Until I see some long term solid changes in company action, it’s all just talk.

Words are wind.