Microsoft Upstages RIM At BlackBerry World
CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage at BlackBerry World and pitched Windows Phone 7, Bing Search, and Bing Maps.
I don't know whose idea it was to bring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Research In Motion's big BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, but I'd be looking for a new job if I were him or her.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis ceded the stage partway through his keynote address to his competitor, who proceeded to announce that Microsoft's Bing Search and Bing Maps products will be "fully integrated" into the BlackBerry platform later this year. Rather than simply supply a stand-alone app on the BlackBerry platform (which is already available, by the way), Ballmer said that Bing is going to be rooted deep within the operating system and more fully baked into the user interface. He didn't say exactly when it will happen, but alluded to the fact that it will be part of BlackBerry OS 7, which will first be available on the Bold 9900/9930 this summer as RIM's refreshed user interface.
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This announcement, by Microsoft, was the biggest news to come from the BlackBerry World conference keynote.
But Ballmer didn't stop there. Oh, no. He actually pitched Windows Phone 7 to the audience, albeit briefly. Read that again: Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, took the stage at BlackBerry World and pitched Windows Phone 7, its competing smartphone platform.
Microsoft just owned RIM at RIM's own event. What was RIM thinking?
Clearly, Lazaridis could have made this announcement himself. True, Ballmer has his own speaking style and bombastic flair. Lazaridis is, by comparison, a bit less exuberant and expressive. But giving a direct competitor such an opportunity is a big mistake. I have to wonder if the smiles on Lazaridis's and Ballmer's faces as they shook hands on stage together were genuine.
Other CEOs took the stage. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen stood in front of the audience of 6,000+ attendees and talked a lot about Adobe AIR and Flash, as realized on the RIM PlayBook. The PlayBook may have QNX at its core, but the user interface is all Adobe. Narayen and Lazaridis were sure to congratulate one another in a job well done in the PlayBook.
Lazaridis pointed out at least a dozen times how vital Flash is for a real internet experience. He failed to mention on stage, however, that the new BlackBerry OS 7 won't support Flash, and will instead use HTML5 for embedded video playback. Oops.
You know what also upstaged RIM? Android apps on the PlayBook. An engineer demonstrated to the audience how Android applications will work on the PlayBook. They will be available directly from BlackBerry App World, and will open and run via an emulator. The applications that they showed looked good and ran well. The Android apps looked just as good as the native PlayBook apps (of which surprisingly few were shown).
In case you forgot, Android (a.k.a., Google) is RIM's other major competitor.
Frankly, I was amazed that Lazaridis didn't invite Apple CEO Steve Jobs to join him on stage, too.
What the hell is going on up there in Waterloo, RIM?
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