I was doing some thinking about Research In Motion today. I was sadly disappointed (is that redundant?) when I heard RIM was delaying the release of the new QNX-based devices until late next year. That's a truly boneheaded move after a series of boneheaded moves.
First they announce that future devices will be running QNX. 6 months or so later, they give the new OS a name – BBX, only to find out LATER that that name was already taken. What? Nobody thought to do a trademark search? Apple's pretty pigheaded about that particular topic (Apple was taken by Apple Records when they opened their doors, Macintosh was a very prominent high-end stereo component manufacturer and even one or more of the iNames were infringed upon), but they always seem to get away with it. RIM's failure to recognize the conflict in using BBX was an arrogant, clueless mistake.
When they announced they were changing the name to BB 10, I was surprised. Considering that we're on BlackBerry Device Software 7 right now, making the leap to 10 seemed...misguided. Of course the press grumbled about the name never seeming to get how they probably chose it. BBX becoming BB 10? Of course, converting the Roman numeral X into 10 makes perfect sense. Why are so many other people missing that?
Anyway, as I tweeted about this the other day, this particular market moves in months, not years. Samsung, Apple, HTC, Motorola and many others release several new phone models a year, often one or more every three months or so. It's a fast moving, dynamic market and RIM just doesn't seem to get it. Announcing a completely new platform then expecting people to wait 18 months or more to see it just doesn't make sense. It's arrogant and clueless. The solution to RIM's problems is to get a smart, new, sexy device platform to market as quickly as possible – no later than early this year (January or February of 2011). RIM's completely capable of doing it, but they just don't seem to be able to actually do it.
It's possible that they ran into some issues and that's the cause for the delay. Staking a brand new product line on a series of chips that won't be out until a year after you need them doesn't make sense. If they have the OS, Apps and features locked down, move on and don't wait for that super-duper, special chipset. If you truly believe you can change the market with these new devices, then get it done.
I'm trying to figure out what's going to happen to them in the next 6 months:
1. No new devices till late in the year (they've already announced that)
2. Unbearable pressure to get rid of Mike and Jim
They're going to be acquired. So many pundits believe it will be Microsoft, but that makes absolutely no sense. I just can't figure out who'd buy them and why. On top of that, what would be left when the purchase completed? The best and brightest minds are leaving en masse, my former colleagues at RIM are Linking In to me in great numbers lately. RIM is Mike L, but I can't imagine Mike staying after any acquisition, so how great can BlackBerry be with Mike at the design helm? Time will tell.
I'm not even going to ask if I can attend BlackBerry World and the BlackBerry Developer Conference next year.