Does RIM have what it takes to compete with the iPhone?

Tue, Jun 30, 2009


Boy Genius Report has an in-depth and worthwhile article detailing the challenges RIM faces in light of their many past successes.  Specifically, BGR seems to imply that with mobile devices becoming more software-centric, RIM has curiously rested on its laurels while Apple has maneuvered to take over the space with seemingly no competition from the Canada-based handset manufacturer.

You have to look at the big picture here… for what RIM is working with (an incredibly miserable Java OS with so much security and encryption and smoke-blowing APIs) they’ve hit the jackpot. Their OS architecture is fantastic, their use of security is what makes them so trustworthy. But, as each handset release comes closer and closer, people start to see the bigger picture. And that’s the fact that RIM’s OS is more than antiquated, it’s borderline laughable. But it works, you’re thinking, so what’s wrong? I’ve been saying this for years, but it wasn’t designed to do anything the BlackBerry does now. Imagine scotch taping car parts to a 200hp engine and see how far that gets you. Obviously, it’s just a viciously rough metaphor, but we believe a correct one.

Right on the money. RIM’s OS flat out sucks and hasn’t evolved in a tangible way over the past few years.

You can throw $1,000,000,000 at developers but you won’t get any if your OS, tools, and documentation are so bad, and that’s really in the end a lot of what I’m getting at. I was laying in bed at around 3AM early one morning recently, looking through the iPhone App Store and I came across EA’s Tiger Woods Golf. $4.99, why not? Wait, it’s 150MB? Wow, it must be good. I clicked purchase and literally 4 minutes later, Tiger Woods was installed and up on my screen. Granted I was on a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, but it made me realize more than ever that RIM has the most uphill battle of their lifetimes. When a BlackBerry application over 500k is considered “large”, something’s wrong. When TweetGenius is one of the first BlackBerry applications to do fun, unique things like transparent overlays, consistent shortcuts, and a straight forward UI, something is wrong.

The battle for smartphone supremacy isn’t only rooted in a race for consumers.  Equally as important is the ability to attract developers to your platform, and this is one area where Apple has put everyone else to shame, a feat even more remarkable when you consider that every other company out there had a multi-year head start on Apple.

These things won’t change, the core OS hasn’t changed, and RIM has had no reason to change it. Why mess with success, right? Well, if you happen to be Research In Motion, you might have to start changing things up or newer and better operating systems like the iPhone, webOS, and Android are going to eat their lunch and their applications, too.

Another salient point.

So, does RIM have what it takes to “steer the ship”?  BGR is skeptical and so are we.  RIM’s bread and butter is keyboard enabled email devices, and aside from corporate America, everyone else is migrating towards touch based smartphones.

You can check out BGR’s full analysis over here.  It’s an informative and well thought out read, and it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.



1 Comments For This Post

  1. Tim Says:

    I know WAY more people that own a BB than an iPhone. Also, the iPhone has a long way to go if it wants to overtake BB as the best business phone.

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