Next Steps for RIM Beyond Torch, BlackBerry 6
RIM is prepping for a long, grueling fight to protect and win market share for its popular BlackBerry smartphones, which face stiff competition from Nokia's Symbian-powered phones, Apple's iPhones, and Android mobile devices. That's the short version of a new study done on RIM and BlackBerry by analyst Jack Gold, principal of J. Gold Associates, a technology research firm. Overall, Gold is pretty gung-ho on RIM transforming itself as a strong competitor in the smartphone sector due to a series of strategic acquisitions, while maintaining its reputation for security and manageability -- all key to its acceptance in the enterprise market. In "BlackBerry's JAM and RIM Transformation," Gold predicts that the first phase of RIM's transformation will coincide with the upcoming release of the BlackBerry OS 6 and complimentary devices such as the Torch 9800, with a second phase coming in about 12 to 18 months. "While RIM has not been as vocal or marketing-driven as some of its competitors, it has worked hard to acquire new technologies and strengthen technologies it already owns," says Gold.
RIM's recent acquisitions shore up positionTorch Mobile: Gold thinks this is probably the preeminent acquisition RIM has made recently, and the one with the most immediately visible payback as the company gives RIM a WebKit-based rendering engine.
"When integrated into a new BlackBerry browser, it will significantly increase performance compared to BlackBerry's not very well regarded current browser," Gold says. But perhaps more importantly it will give BlackBerry an industry standard HTML5 capability, enabling Flash and potentially Silverlight support for a full browser experience. "The challenge for RIM will be to make the WebKit engine secure enough to not undo BlackBerry's compelling security advantage," says Gold. Viigo: This gives RIM new programming tools to aid the upgrading of its programming environment (IDE), and a platform to deploy real-time content to BlackBerry.
Alt-N Technologies: This provides RIM with an easy-to-deploy and -manage email server running under Windows, (but could be ported to Linux as well), says Gold. Dash Navigation: provides GGPS navigation systems. Gold believes this expertise can be applied to the BlackBerry Maps app to enable full navigation and further extend its capabilities to a location based services paradigm. QNX: provides RIM with a substantial portfolio of Real Time Operating System (RTOS) experience and intellectual property. By leveraging QNX, RIM will be able re-architect the BlackBerry OS from the ground up, says Gold. "QNX has been in the RTOS business for a long time and has deep expertise in building responsive and trimmed-down systems for embedded apps," he adds. RTOS also enables a high degree of fault tolerance and security, as an RTOS just can't fail. QNX has expertise with creating development tools and has deep custom design expertise. Moreover, it has a close alliance with auto makers and many other embedded machine vendors. QNX gives RIM an expansive opportunity to address new markets.