Chris J Powell

The Latest RIM Rumors and the Future of the Blackberry Brand

My household is firmly split using the 3 most popular mobile OSes fairly equally.  My wife and daughter each have Blackberry phones, my daughter has an iPod Touch, I have an iPad, an Android Tablet and and Android Phone.  So when I heard about the rumor that RIM (makers of the waning Blackberry brand) possibly shifting to the Android OS…i was actually quite intrigued.

This is not that far fetched of an idea as there have been several hacks of the Blackberry Playbook that have allowed Android to be installed on it.  The smart form factor of the Playbook and solid hardware have been fairly successful.  So much so that Blackberry developers have opened up the API to allow for an easier conversion of an Android Developer to port an App over to the Blackberry ecosystem (Runtime for Android Apps).

So on the Playbook, it makes sense but what about on the multitude of smaller screen Blackberry’s with Keyboards that are still popular with the BBM and Texting kings and queens out there?  Would the full pull out of OS Development really benefit the ailing phone maker?

In looking through several reports, there are both positive and negative feelings about this but from my perspective of an Android ONLY phone user:

With the goodness of the hardware and the Enterprise quality back end that RIM has built…opening the phone market to Blackberry leveraging the full weight of the Google supported Android OS would be a solid plan.  The focus can be on building a better Industrial Design and the support of the Blackberry Internet Service.

Over the past two days at work, I participated in a company wide challenge to look to the future of our IT Research and Advisory Services and one of the area’s we were tasked with is looking to the space of Mobile Device Management and BYOD.  The transition to the Mark Anderson conceived concept of an AORTA future for mobility is not that terribly far away.  A world where we are Always On Real Time Access to data, networks and information is very close to a reality for much of the world and with the the focus will shift from Devices to Data.  RIM could really take advantage of that by shifting their focus from trying to recover…to creating a new way, method and ecosystem that is there to support the push towards a brave new world.

RIM is still known for the security measures built into it services…extending that out and focusing not on trying to compete in the Apps and OS markets that it has been decimated by…but winning back it Government and Corporate clients with a solid connection and brokering service that would allow for Devices and the People who are using them to be able to take advantage of a world were it is all about the Data and not about the Device…that could be the real advantage for RIM.

What would these future Android running Blackberry phones look like?  Touch screen is what the public want…but the lovers of the Blackberry form factor have shied away from the Torch (which has a pretty well thought out slider keyboard)…and the smaller screen competitors that are running Android have not done well in the past (look to HTC ChaCha, the Motorola Defy Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Y Pro).

So that brings us to the rub…can RIM reinvent itself without the building of Blackberry 10 OS.  The delays and indecisiveness of the senior level executives at RIM have made North American’s more than a little nervous about ANY investment in RIM Products right now.  With both Samsung and Apple battling it out in court right now and both those companies planning for releases of new flagship products in the coming weeks…if RIM was going to make a play for the future…NOW would be the time to do it with a surprise release of a new Blackberry 10 phone in the late August to early September time frame…not doing so means that RIM is just too far behind Apple and Android.

There is also the point that I am not sure that they have the ability to really add anything new to the market with the 10th iteration of their Operating System.  If they were to take that expertise and apply it to the now mature Android OS…well that in my opinion would be a true Apple Killer…working in collaboration with Google to lock down the OS and make it more Enterprise Ready….yep…that would be a win!

But I digress.  Regardless of how the Apple vs. Samsung battle goes or if RIM eventually releases Blackberry 10 or ports to Android…today is a day that is meant for some family connections.  I have been absent this week partaking in a new Fiscal Year Kickoff and then head down hard at work dealing with the Case Competition…time to reconnect with my girls and say..”Hey, how you doin’!”


Chris J Powell

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