With the recent public display of Blackberry 10, RIM is back in the news. I believe that RIM has made many missteps and has been too slow to respond to changing market dynamics. Thus, my view is that RIM’s future looks dim and that they will struggle. Last week, my travels took me to Toronto and I met with a knowledgeable person (Let’s call him Bob for simplicity although that was not his real name.) who had a different opinion. To be clear, Bob was not a RIM employee but was knowledgeable about the company and the industry. I thought that it would be interesting to share his perspectives here because they are so different from mine. It is up to the reader to decide whether they agree or disagree. Continue reading RIM: A contrarian opinion
I have blogged on numerous occasions about cellphones and historically, I have been an unabashed Blackberry user. So it was with a sense of shock when I realized that my new employer would not support Blackberry phones. I had two options:
The choice was obvious and I went with a Palm OS-based device and chose the Palm Pre Plus on AT&T. There are many articles discussing the basics of the Palm OS and Palm Pre and in this piece, I just wanted to share my thoughts on my likes and dislikes of the phone. I have been using the device for about three months now and so have had ample hands-on time. Note that these observations apply only to the Pre Plus; I have not used the Pre 2, Pixi or Pre 3.
What I like about it:
Touch screen – Palm has taken design cues from Apple and has done a good job in creating an OS that relies on touch gestures. It is very easy to use the OS to open programs and switch between different open ones. This was a particularly refreshing change from the Blackberry which relied on a trackball. (Newer Blackberries like the Torch have a touchscreen, but I do not believe that the implementation is as efficient as found on the Pre Plus.) Gestures such as double tapping and pinching for zooming work well. The RIM OS really shows it age in contrast.
Multi-tasking – Palm OS does a particularly good job with multi-tasking and uses its card interface to allow for rapid and efficient switching between running applications. It is very easy to quickly access your calendar or email while on a call. This is highly valuable particularly in scenarios where you have a conference call and must switch between the calendar and phone for access code information. RIM had multi-tasking too, but the process of accessing and closing applications was painful requiring a long press of the Blackberry button and substantial trackball scrolling. Simply put, Palm’s approach is far more efficient and user friendly.
Web Browser – Let me start by saying that my last Blackberry was the Bold 9000 and so I never tried RIM’s newest browser. The one I used was terrible. It was highly inefficient and was made worse by corporate policies which often refused to load sites claiming that they were too large. It was extremely frustrating and the web experience was questionable at best. The Pre’s browser could not be more different. It is a fully functioning mobile browser that mimics the experience of a desktop, and I have yet to find a site that the Pre has a major problem with. A massive improvement over the crud that RIM used to pass as a browser.
I have lamented in the past about RIM’s Blackberry OS and how serious changes are needed to compete effectively with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. The latest iteration, Blackberry 6.0 is improved, but I questioned whether it is enough to compete. Recently, rumors have surfaced of a new iPad-like device from RIM called the BlackPad which brings the OS question back to the forefront.
The first assumption by most experts is that the BlackPad would be powered by RIM’s Blackberry 6.0 similar to how Apple leveraged iOS for the iPad. This made sense from a time to market and ease of implementation perspective, and is the only choice if RIM is committed to Blackberry OS over the long-term. However, the latest rumor is that the BlackPad will be based on an OS created by QNX Software. (RIM acquired QNX back in April.) If true, this is a major shift for RIM and potentially represents the long awaited OS rewrite. If RIM does release the BlackPad with QNX technology then I believe that the smartphones must follow.
There have been numerous leaked videos of the upcoming Blackberry 9800 slider. The device brings a new form factor to the Blackberry, but most importantly incorporates a brand new OS, 6.0. The combination of 6.0 and the 9800’s touch screen mimics the experience found in competing phones running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, but is it enough?
I have blogged before about how I believe that RIM has to re-write their OS to become competitive in the rapidly changing and multimedia-centric smartphone market. OS 6.0 represents RIM’s strongest move yet in this direction, but is still based on their traditional Java OS. Crackberry.com has links to sample videos of the new phone/OS combination in the links below. (Note: that some of these videos have been removed, and most can be found here.)
- Multimedia experience – Inside Blackberry
- Blackberry 6 overview
- Blackberry 6 multimedia capabilities
- Blackberry 6 browser
These videos show an impressive improvement in Blackberry functionality and features, but I am not convinced it is enough. If you look at the market, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android battle on hardware and software features. They are constantly trying one-up each other with enhancements like video-conferencing (iPhone) or wireless hotspot (Android). RIM is behind on touchscreen functionality and 6.0 is a catch up release for them. It breaks no new ground but rather brings RIM a touch interface that is similar to what Android and iOS have been offering since inception. Where is the innovation in the platform? Continue reading Blackberry OS 6.0 – Is it enough?
The Mrs is looking to take the leap into the world of smartphones. Up until this point, she has used a traditional cellular phone and an old fashioned Palm Z22. The combination has worked okay, but the requirement for frequent manual syncing of the Z22 due to recurring data loss is frustrating. It is time for a change.
As I am reviewing options, the realization has struck me that what really matters is the OS. I define the OS as not just the software that runs on the phone but also the supporting infrastructure. Apple has masterfully innovated through their iPhone OS and complementary applications such as iTunes and the AppStore. Apple created an entirely new and highly profitable business model with these products. They then ported the same technology to two additional platforms in the iPod Touch and the iPad and further extended their reach. In fact their OS and infrastructure was so revolutionary that they have made few changes to it since the launch in 2007 and it still is the leader.