Guest Post by Jon T. Norwood
The Playbook has been released and is receiving good, but not rave, reviews. Its interface, QNX, is good and has been termed “…an imitation of WebOS,” as quoted by an HP representative.
Smooth and responsive, motions and gestures are quick, and although the apps are described as “…a little less than instant,” performance is solid. So how does this mean that Blackberry is possibly going the way of the DoDo? The Playbook itself does not, but the fact that Blackberry Messenger is being released for Android does.
How BlackBerry Got Here The first thing to remember is that RIM ( Research In Motion), the company that created the wildly successful BlackBerry platform, has practically controlled the business smartphone market for years. While not considered “Smartphones” per-se, the Blackberry and its messenger service, along with a few other applications, drove business adoption of mobile messaging long before either Android or iPhone were born.
The unique, immediately recognizable, physical styling of the Blackberry is one of the signatures of its success, and until the birth of the smartphone market it was the only practical way to integrate business messaging into a mobile phone. This is no longer true. Many businesses still employ the BBM (Blackberry Messenger), and its server software the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), to maintain messaging, file transfer access, and communication with their workforces. So why are their rumors afoot that the BBM will be released for Android? Additionally, there are rumors that the Playbook will run Android apps. How they got here is market stagnation.
Out With The Old, In With The New Rumors are just rumors, but the fact that they exist is a telling sign. People talk “out of school,” especially when they have juicy information. The release of the Playbook and its much-publicized ability to synchronize with a Blackberry automatically could easily be seen as RIM’s breakout effort to build it for the new market. It would make sense considering that the business market is very BlackBerry, so far. The tablet move means that they are moving to secure their business market base by adding a solid tablet offering to compliment their phones. Then again, it could be seen as a defensive maneuver. If you see it that way then the BBM for Android has to be a contingency plan. Running Android Apps on the Playbook is an admission of the power of Android in the market place. Android is, admittedly, not ready for business yet but that is a matter of time. It is easy to see RIM defending its territory against the growing Android juggernaut, but it is already losing territory to iPhone and iPad. Apple is eating business market from the top down, and Android will begin to assimilate from the bottom up with BlackBerry in the middle feeling the squeeze.
Does RIM Have a Future? Clearly there will be a future for RIM and BlackBerry. The Playbook is a solid tablet offering, and has gotten good press coverage. RIM will have paths open to it for some time to come, as there is still a great deal of open space in the tablet market. Android will come in at the ground level but the Motorola XOOM and RIM Playbook are positioned to compete directly with Apple for the upper level market share. However, none of this includes the BlackBerry as an ongoing player in the smartphone market. Microsoft is woefully behind and stumbling badly and while RIM still holds a technical lead in the smartphone handset market in the US, the ‘droids are showing up, like little smiley faces on every other manufacturers handset and marching smartly up the hill. Maybe RIM is looking to consolidate its current market share in the business realm long enough to build a tablet operation with a future.
Author Jon T. Norwood uses http://solsie.com/ to research emerging technology and is a managing partner at Broadband Internet, a site dedicated to providing information on Mobile Broadband News. Jon can be reached at email@example.com.