What's left to say about RIM and BlackBerry?
Have you seen the Wikipedia page for the BlackBerry 10 OS? It's a great barometer.
While I’ve been fully embedded in Google I/O this week, I understand there has been some news about BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM). And by “news,” I mean to say “Screams, cries, deep sighs, and rhetorical questions about what else could go wrong.”
To recap: RIM announced Thursday that its sales and losses for the last financial quarter were really, really bad, and much worse than expected. Also? BlackBerry 10 devices, the next generation of BlackBerry’s flagging platform, won’t even arrive until early 2013, because development has “proven to be more time-consuming than anticipated.” Oh, and? RIM has to cut 5,000 jobs. Investors are not huge fans of firms that seem entirely clueless about their earnings, their core product, and their staffing levels, so the stock dropped 18 percent in extended trading. It’s down 70 percent this year, and 95 percent since mid-2008.
BlackBerry 10 will not, from all available indicators, revitalize RIM’s fortunes. According to the anemic Wikipedia page for BlackBerry 10, a recent demonstration:
included a platform-wide flow interface, a new intelligent keyboard, as well as a camera app which allows the user to adjust a portrait by moving through time, so that the picture is perfect.
But every month BlackBerry’s devices spend in development Hell, its competitors are adding new features, and their customers add more features to their personal must-have lists. Which development teams at the most popular mobile services are going to spend the rest of 2012 betting on a big launch for BlackBerry 10? Does RIM not realize that anyone can edit Wikipedia, the site that’s almost always on the first page of search results for any phrase? Do they not have an intern who can add a few details and features to the page that explains the software that is their future?
Microsoft had approached RIM in recent months to discuss a Windows 8 platform partnership, according to Reuters’ sources, but RIM’s leadership wanted to see BlackBerry 10 through to completion. RIM’s CEO shot down any remaining partnership ideas in Thursday’s conference call. Dan Frommer has it right in a ReadWriteWeb post: BlackBerry has back-end network services to sell, and they could help someone like Microsoft make its own hardware play. But they’re worth about $5 billion now, they’ll be worth less a few months from now. If they alienate their 80 million subscribers, especially among the governments and enterprise customers that are their lifeblood with an awkward upgrade/transition process, they’ll be worth nothing.