Recently it seems like you cannot go a week without reading multiple reports on how RIM and the BlackBerry brand is slowly swirling down the drain. Most of these reports are just bashing RIM for not leading the pack in terms of features and not appeasing a ‘restless’ BlackBerry base. RIM has been playing catch up in some areas for the last year or so but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Until then I think there is one point that really rings true through all of these reports. RIM needs to reboot the BlackBerry OS and device line and they need to do it ASAP. Yes that means no more device refreshes that just add another 256MB of RAM to a year old device. We need a experience that truly lives up to the BlackBerry Torch tagline of “Less an evolutionary leap more of a triple axel.”
Currently RIM only really wants to talk about their upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet and its space age QNX based OS. RIM has a very promising product in the BlackBerry PlayBook but they do not have 50+ million tablet users out there who are chiming for a new tablet. They have a whole slew of dedicated fans who want the BlackBerry experience without the compromises in the current BlackBerry OS. For RIM that probably means bringing QNX to BlackBerry PHONES as soon as possible. It also means releasing phones that are no longer limited to the aging 624Mhz baseband processor found in BlackBerrys for the last 2+ years.
I have multiple confirmations from sources at RIM that the next round of BlackBerry devices will be pushing a QNX based Flash/WebWorks OS but RIM has yet to confirm it. This is what RIM needs to be showing off alongside the BlackBerry Tablet OS. Current BlackBerry users are dying to know what RIM has in store for them or if BlackBerry 6 is sticking around for another year. It could be that RIM has huge plans for BlackBerry 6 and I know they are working on supporting a new baseband processor to finally move past the current aging hardware. It could be that all the BlackBerry 6 OS needs to truly fly is a dual core 1Ghz processor…
RIM practically invented the smartphone market as we know it and they are nowhere near dead with over 50 million users. The move to the Tablet OS from QNX is a clear sign that RIM realizes that the current BlackBerry platform is in need of a reboot and they are working on the problem. I have read a few reports claiming how RIM is in a death spiral but most of them just hinge on one or two facts with assumptions thrown in here and there. The best article I have read is more of a call for action from RIM by Michael Mace over @MobileOpportunity (via Business Insider). The article “What’s Really Wrong With BlackBerry” is a interesting read and gives a financial analysis that I do not have the expertise to write. Its point can be summed up into two bullet points:
- The BlackBerry line needs to be given a several fundamental, visionary innovations that will give its core customers a reason to stay; and
- The company needs to change its development process to guarantee proper design and integration in all of its products.
I totally agree with both of those points. RIM needs to come up with more reasons for BlackBerry users to stick with BlackBerry instead of just playing catch up with features from the competition. We need more sticky apps and functionality like BBM and push email. These are the features that make RIM stick out and I am hoping RIM has more of them in store. We also need a whole revamp of the whole legacy BlackBerry OS experience to bring the BlackBerry user base into the 21st century. Let me give you a perfect example. RIM has both BlackBerry Maps and BlackBerry Traffic. Why can’t they integrate the two and add turn by turn navigation for a full blown GPS? I know Google has done it before but their is a reason Dash Navigation had such an early adopter fan base before RIM purchased them. They were before their time. Separately BlackBerry Maps and BlackBerry Traffic are just sad alternatives to Google Maps.
I think the new QNX OS and UI design it is bringing would be an amazing foundation for RIM in an upcoming phone. The thing is that BlackBerry users who are sitting on the fence are not going to wait forever. What we need to hear from RIM what their plans are beyond BlackBerry 6 and what they are doing to blow the SMARTPHONE competition out of the water. Don’t get me wrong I am dying to get my hands on a BlackBerry PlayBook but the real measure of RIM will be what it has in store for redefining the smartphone market. At first the competition was copying RIM and their features but now the tables have turned in some areas like 3rd party apps.
What do you think? I am rooting for RIM since they have a history of creating awesome communication tools that get the job done and not toys. I know they have it in them to turn this all around!