Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
4/17/2012
12:28 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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RIM Blackberry OS, Anyone? Tech Vendors Won't Bite

Research In Motion needs to explore strategic options, one of which could be licensing out BlackBerry OS 10. This won't save the company.

The Future Of RIM: Exclusive Research
The Future Of RIM: Exclusive Research
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins, in the job only three months, seems to be doing everything he can to turn the ailing smartphone maker around. He's promised significant changes, new leadership, and a plan to make it all come together. That means RIM is considering multiple options. One of them, according to sources cited by Bloomberg, is licensing out its BlackBerry operating system.

Though it could be a potential source of revenue for RIM, this strategy will ultimately fail RIM. Here's why.

-- RIM's software chops are questionable. One of the big reasons that RIM's BlackBerry smartphones have fallen out of favor with enterprises and consumers alike is because the platform and software simply can't compete with Android and iOS. RIM has made strides with BlackBerry 7 when you look back at BB5 and BB6, but barely.

The real proof, however, is visible in PlayBook OS. PlayBook OS 2.0 in particular is essentially a preview of how BlackBerry 10 (BB10) will look and work. The PlayBook has been one of the most dismal failures in the tablet market over the course of the last year. It didn't fail because of the hardware. It failed because the software stinks.

What company would want to license stinky software?

-- Timing is bad for RIM. BlackBerry 10 is due to arrive by the end of the year. That's a long time from now. That means RIM will debut BB10 on smartphones before the end of the year, but licensees probably wouldn't be able to bring BB10-based handsets to market until early 2013.

Before RIM gets around to licensing out BB10 to anyone, Apple will have probably brought iOS 6 and the net-gen iPhone to market, and Google will have done the same with Android 5.0. RIM simply isn't getting things done quickly enough, and no hardware maker is going to wait so long with such furious competition heating things up.

-- Tech vendors don't need BB10. Guess what? None of the smartphone makers on the market need another smartphone platform. Do you really think Samsung, which has sold tens of millions of Galaxy-branded Android phones in the last few years, is hurting for another platform? It ain't, and neither are companies such as Sony, Motorola, HTC, and LG, the most obvious potential licensees.

Even second-tier OEMs, such as Kyocera, Asus, Huawei, and ZTE, are better off sticking with Android as their platform of choice. It's free, it's popular, it sells. There's no reason for companies such as these to pay money to license a platform that has dubious chances of success.

-- RIM Is vertically integrated. RIM's greatest strength is the same as Apple's: it owns every piece of its ecosystem. It controls the platform, the messaging services, the app store, and the hardware. Despite this source of strength, it hasn't been able to capitalize on it to the extent Apple has thanks to poor platform and hardware decisions. RIM can turn both these elements around on its own--if it survives long enough to do so. Licensing out the platform would have the cannibalistic effect of eating into RIM's own hardware sales, weakening it further.

RIM simply needs to bring the best platform and best hardware it can to market as quickly as possible. So far, we're not seeing much evidence that it will be able to do this.

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CHDFW
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CHDFW,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 3:03:48 PM
re: RIM Blackberry OS, Anyone? Tech Vendors Won't Bite
I think for RIM to stay relevent they need to focus on App Development for iOS. Keep your features relevent and making you money. Call ut Apps for the enterprise and quietly in the background develop 1-New Blackberry...just one no Playbook, kill it...you'll never be able to compete with the iPad.

Now comes the master plan. Keep the updates coming and when the time is right release your new Blackberry. How will you know when this is? Let me put it this way. Could you imagine what a short day life span an iOS device will have with these powerful apps. I bet the battery doesn't make it 3hrs throughout the day. It's little things like this that made you who you were. Security and LONG Battery. Where you lost me was bad OS, unusable keyboard not a consumer product.
Frank Castle
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Frank Castle,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 2:58:10 AM
re: RIM Blackberry OS, Anyone? Tech Vendors Won't Bite
There are some blatant incorrect statements in this rant, as well a heavy bias that bends truths but whatever for a page hit right?

1. Android is not free. Microsoft is collecting a fee on every device sold. The lone Android OEM making profit is Samsung. Did you miss HTC having record loss? Firing their CFO? Let's gloss over those facts. There is also a degree of uncertainty what will happen once Google and Motorola merge. Are other Android OEM's going to get closed out? They are doing a pretty poor job already with the fragmentation happening. Less than 5% of all Android devices have ICS (v4.0). The bulk are running 2.2 / 2.3. Android is racing to feature phone status. You also forget to mention the rampid pirating of Android Apps, malware in their marketplace (Google Play).

2. Playbook has now over 1 million sold and are outselling most Android tablets. Yes it launched with missing features, some made for security reasons but we quickly forget all the features other OS's have not launched with (copy and paste). iOS is now 5 years old, QNX for BB is almost 1 year. Compare Playbook 2.01 to iOS and there are major gaps in iOS. Playbook beats in multitasking, web browser, flash support to name a few.

3. RIM lacks Apps, that is the big knock on them. Considering I maybe use 20 Apps across all my mobile devices I use the web more. If / When gets some major App support it will be one less thing to complain about. Then we'll be down to preference and bias and it's very clear most tech blogs are biased against RIM.

4. RIM is losing ground in enterprise's that support BYOD, there are still many that will remain corporate liable and provide Blackberry. It's like saying HP is losing ground to Dell when a contract is switched. Blackberry is supported and deployed in almost every major company in the world. Now that RIM can manage iOS and Android they have a play for those looking to support other platforms.

5. RIM has options that ANY of the major players would love to have:

- a world wide NOC to secure and compress data
- a world wide messaging platform (nothing even comes close)
- Hands down best security and management platform
- PBX intergration suite
- SharePoint, Lync intergration
- A host of acquisitions the past 2 years (TAT, Docs2Go, NewBay etc)

There are still all the PC players who have ZERO presence that buying / partnering with RIM can get them in the game on the #3 platform. HP, IBM, DELL, etc.

6. RIM is liking going to partner with someone, they need to get out of the hardware business and work on being a solution / infrastucture company. It's nice to own the whole stack but this is an arms race at the moment and they cannot build an ecosystem, have bleeding edge hardware, deliver a world class mobile OS for the next 10 years.

We'll see RIM's progress in a couple weeks at their conference. They need some major announcements and wow factor. Can they deliver? Considering the rash of negative articles RIM has had thrown at it for months now I think they have some good stuff planned and to manys dismay they have money and no debt to keep on improving.
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