Will RIM actually change things for the better with BBX?

Published: October 20, 2011

Consider me surprised. I know that it has been a whole two days since Research In Motion officially unveiled BBX, but my mind is still reeling. While BBX isn’t necessarily a surprise to anyone who’s been watching RIM’s movements in the market, or been listening to what they’ve been “hinting” at since the beginning of the New Year (or at least since the unveiling of BlackBerry 7), it was refreshing to see co-CEO Mike Lazaridis take the stage and announce something that should actually get people excited again.

My stance on Research In Motion has been pretty clear. While I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of their position in the market at this particular moment, I do like their devices, and I do love the fact that they’re still around. My stance hasn’t shifted, even after the announcement of BlackBerry 7 and the very distinctive chasm from previous versions of RIM’s mobile OS. And the truth is I’m glad I stuck around, because here we are with BBX right around the corner (more or less), and I’m honestly going to say that I think the wait was worth it.

Now, I’m saying this without having any actual hands-on time with BBX (obviously). And, in fact, there wasn’t much to really show off at the BlackBerry DevCon that just took place. What we saw Research In Motion do, was announce what’s coming, and outline plenty of new things that is coming down the line. It’s a conference for developers, so there’s obviously not going to be much for the average end user to grab from it – not yet, anyway. But, it’s a way for RIM to show the world what they’ve got coming down the line, right from its very basic nature.

And the basic nature of BBX is looking very, very promising. The simple fact that RIM sees all of their devices running one mobile OS, and all of them connected together the whole time, is huge. They’re obviously not the first company in the mobile market to envision this, or to enact it, but that doesn’t make it make any less of an impact. The cloud is a huge part of the mobile market now, just as Google has always known, and just now how Apple is making use of, so the fact that BlackBerry will be embracing this just goes to show how much RIM is actually paying attention.

And that’s the kicker, isn’t it? Because there are plenty of RIM fans out there that were beginning to think the Waterloo-based company wasn’t paying attention anymore. While they were busy creating their own devices, the mobile market was literally leaving them in the dust, and it was beginning to look like they just weren’t going to watch, or care that that’s what was happening. But, with the unveiling of BBX, it looks like they were indeed watching, and the whole time they were sticking to their plan. In that I see a lot of Microsoft’s own tactics, where it’s just about what they’ve got coming, and the rest of the market doesn’t matter. It works for Microsoft because they’re Microsoft, so it will be interesting to see if it can work out for RIM.

And I can’t wrap this up without noting that RIM isn’t leaving the previous mobile operating systems in the wind. Specifically, BlackBerry 7 applications that are currently built with Adobe AIR/Flash, the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps, or the Native SDK will be able to be used with BBX – and that’s huge, folks. It was a mistake to banish BlackBerry 6 users, and their apps, into the cold with the release of BlackBerry 7, and it looks like RIM has paid attention to that mistake and rectified it.

Is the BlackBerry name completely out of the murk? No, not at all. But from what I can see, that is basically because BBX isn’t out right now, and we probably won’t see the new mobile OS land on devices (or new devices for that matter) until the start of 2012. Right now, the BlackBerry-themed, “Oh no, what’s going to happen!?” rhetoric isn’t going anywhere soon, but, with what BBX looks like it could be, it does look like it will be gone here soon.

Now let’s just hope RIM can stick to the plan they’ve begun to lay out.

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