Being a former die hard BlackBerry fan, it's tough to sit and watch the company dwindle like they have over the years. I can remember back to a time that RIM was on top of the market and were considered the pioneers of the smartphone world. Innovation was their primary objective and their groundbreaking handsets were the evidence of just that. But since then, the market has greatly changed and innovation was swapped for a perpetual round of cat and mouse – RIM obviously being the cat with a gimp leg.
Like I mentioned yesterday, it's hard to ignore that RIM has fallen on hard times when even the leader of the CrackBerry nation is losing hope. If the biggest BlackBerry fan of them all is losing sight, who is left? (I can, however, relate to how Kevin is feeling. I ran a BlackBerry tech site for PhoneDog and was one of the biggest BlackBerry addicts around. It's easy to get burned out or to lose hope with all of the other platforms constantly updating and evolving around you.)
Of course there will always be people who hope and pray RIM makes a turnaround, but shouldn't Kevin Michaluk be leading that effort, too? Nonetheless, talk of a RIM takeover is a strange and deeply convoluted subject. The are so many ins and outs, advantages and disadvantages for both parties involved. While I can agree with all of Kevin's key points for why Google should purchase RIM and solve all of their enterprise needs, there are several gaping reasons for why we should not give up on the former giant just yet.
As I stated before, the Waterloo-based company definitely still has some fight left in them. Although their first-quarter earnings were not exactly something to be truly happy about, they have shown major international growth. They have an enormous global footprint that is growing with each and every quarter. Additionally, RIM is in the midst of a major transition. In an attempt to adapt and maintain their position in the market, Research In Motion has purchased a handful of powerhouse companies like QNX, The Astonishing Tribe, Torch Mobile and many others.
Bringing two companies together to create one (or a few) streamlined products can be a hassle. RIM is currently attempting to do just that with many more companies than just two. They are also dealing with an internal struggle and another with their investors and shareholders. A large storm is brewing inside the company. Give them some time (which is against them right now) and they may create one superphone that blows our minds. It seems unlikely at the moment, but it is certainly possible.
Aside from being known for arguably the best mobile email service and experience on mobile devices, BlackBerry handsets are known for being equipped with the best pocket-sized QWERTYs ... ever. RIM puts a lot of time and effort into their keyboards, and it definitely shows. Your fingers glide naturally across a RIM-made fretboard keyboard. On devices like the Motorola Droid or Droid Pro, the keyboards are not ergonomic and users will find themselves struggling and frustrated (I speak from experience). RIM pays attention to the minute details to avoid user frustration. If it ever came true, RIM's high quality QWERTYs may never see the light of day again, being backseated for some bigger and better display or processors technology.
Of course, if Google purchased RIM, the principles on which BlackBerry were built will easily be swallowed by the little green robot. Android was built on the idea that the platform should be user designable and customizable. QNX which would be an easy substitute for Android's Linux kernel would make the platform much more secure and much more difficult to "root."
As a result, a large goal of theirs would be to gain the interest of the business sector, which has always been RIM's priority. Ignoring this would be a big mistake on Google's part, but taking it on too strongly could also be bad for the platform from a consumer's standpoint. This is one area where RIM has struggled over the years. Providing one product to both enterprise customers and average consumers is a tough gig. The added security is great for enterprise but a deadly move to those who enjoy the platform's currently open stance.
If, in fact, Google does buy RIM, they should consider offering two entirely separate but similar products to the public: a more secure QNX-based Android platform for the business customers and a Linux-based Android for those customers who still want to enjoy the vast playground of Android rooting. Chances are, however, that this would never happen. (Note: I am not an expert on kernels or how exactly switching over to QNX would affect Android. If you are, please correct me if I'm wrong. This is simply how I interpreted the explanation.)
Last but not least, people still want their BlackBerrys. For whatever reason (and there are many, trust me), people still choose to carry BlackBerry devices over Android, Windows Phone 7 or an iPhone. Whether it is the keyboard, the non-distracting OS, the battery life or just the executive look, people do still choose BlackBerrys in the end. RIM's upcoming devices even have me turning my head again. It's a rare occurrence for me to care much about BlackBerrys anymore, but that Bold Touch is just too much to ignore.
Sadly, if anyone – not just Google – purchased RIM, their top notch hardware (found only in their flagship devices) would be buried for other, less important aspects of the mobile experience. Millions of customers (business and average users) worldwide would be lost come upgrade time.
All of this being said, a takeover could be all that RIM needs to get back up and running. (Think HP and Palm.) But I would like to see the product of shuffling the CEOs and a remapping of the game plan before someone throws in the towel on RIM. They're between a rock and a hard place, but they're not in too deep to work themselves out just yet.
Here's to you and your success, RIM. There are still some of us out there rooting for you, even though a BlackBerry running Android would be pretty enticing. But hey, that could be done without Google gobbling you up, right?
Image via PoderPDA