March 2011
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Crunch Time for RIM

Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Poor RIM took a beating this evening after announcing their quarterly financials. It all seems rather up and down. Probably more down. Either way, I think the next few months are going to decide if RIM have a role to play in The Great Mobile Wars This Decade. Here is my summary of their 2011 so far.

Bad News

In January, some douche decided that he’d launch the new careers site at I mean, seriously. Surely everyone reads Urban Dictionary these days. This is even better than before they stuck in the clarifying hypen.

Good News

They took the site to the more sensible domain It briefly redirected but the domain is completely gone now.

Good News

RIM have finally announced that their new tablet, the PlayBook, is shipping this month. It’s been delayed a few times so hopefully this is it. I think the name is okay, actually. Although if it is meant to refer to a basketball/football playbook, then it makes more sense in the US.

Bad News

It going to have a similar price to the iPad2. It is $500/$600/$700 for the models with 16GB/32GB/64GB RAM. This can’t be good for them. Tablets need to be cheaper than the iPad to get traction.

At 7 inches, it is much smaller than most other tablets. It seems it ain’t going to be much good unless you tether it to your Blackberry. And there are still questions about battery life (which has not been mentioned in any spec sheets I’ve seen yet). Maybe another more detailed post about the features of the PlayBook some other time.

Good News

Their QNX operating system is interesting, and might mean they can run Adobe Flash faster than other Android based tablets. Flash on Android still needs to prove itself. And the fact that they’re not Android might be a differentiator in a world of Samsung Galaxy and Motorola Xoom. Bad news here is that some analysts are blaming poor battery life on greedy Flash and the theory that QNX wasn’t designed for mobile usage.

Bad News

The fact that they’re not Android means they don’t have many apps at all. It’s pretty difficult to write apps for the PlayBook at the moment. This was highlighted in a hilarious blog post “You win, RIM!” by developer Jamie Murai that went viral. You should read it (seriously), and his follow-up post. RIM did respond to his rant pretty well I think. The fact that they’re trying to lure developers by chucking free PlayBooks at them is a sign of the times.

Good News:

RIM have just confirmed that they’ll run Android apps. Woot. It’s been rumoured for a while but they’ve confirmed it now. Some argue that this is an admission that their own developer SDK is a pile of shite. However, if they didn’t do this, I think they’ve have been dead in the water so it is a smart move. You won’t be able to download your RIM apps from the Android Marketplace (or the shiny new Amazon AppStore for Android). Instead, developers will need to resubmit their apps to BlackBerry App World. This is probably okay.

The highlights of the press release:

  • BlackBerry PlayBook to support BlackBerry Java and Android apps
  • Native C/C++ development support added, in addition to HTML5, Flash and AIR support
  • Support from leading game engines: Ideaworks Labs (AirPlay) and Unity Technologies (Unity 3)
  • BlackBerry PlayBook becomes a new market opportunity for all the developers who have already created over 25,000 BlackBerry Java apps and more than 200,000 Android apps

It’s probably also slightly good news for RIM that GOOG might be about to annoy the developer community slightly with their delayed open sourcing of Honeycomb.

And finally

Note that I really want RIM to do well. The more players in this game the better, and a two horse race between Android and iOS is a bit dull. Having RIM and WebOS in the mix spices things up. And at least they’re getting a whole lot of press again. There is no such thing as bad publicity, right? Go RIM!


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