BlackBerry BBX: A real breakthrough or too late to the party?
RIM has recently presented the name of their next operating system, the evolution of QNX will be named BBX. In April 2010 RIM announced that they will purchase QNX and develop the operating system into the next standard platform for all BlackBerry devices. Let’s quickly review what has happened since 2010 in the mobile industry space and how this will impact RIM and BBX going forward.
Apple keeps pushing the envelope
Even though the latest announcement of the iPhone 4S initially produced disappointment it seems that sales figure speak a completely different story. It seems that the iPhone Assistant named Siri is becoming one of the main reasons for the interest in the new device and together with iCloud Apple is extending and strengthening its ecosystem even more. They have just positioned themselves far ahead of the competition again and it will be interesting to see what the next Android platform will be integrate to compete in this area. Also don’t forget the iTunes and App Store and the range of content you can get through this channel.
Android is the OS of choice for OEMs, further strengthening the Google ecosystem
While Android is more or less free (there are still patent fees companies have to pay when they are using the OS) it is clear that Google has something very valuable here that extends the Google ecosystem through the help of OEMs and smartphone manufacturers who are looking for an operating system to power their devices. The tight integration with Google Services makes this a very interesting product, nevertheless it lacks the tight integration of iOS and the full range of content that is available through iTunes.
Windows Phone 7 & Nokia
Windows Phone 7 looks very promising and the cooperation with Nokia could actually bring a good range of tightly integrated services. If this is combined with an integration in Windows 8 Microsoft could have something very interesting on its hands. One challenge remains the content that is not available and we see challenges with the innovation coming from Microsoft. Microsoft is well known to be an imitator and what has worked well with longer product life cycles becomes increasingly difficult when you are operating in the 12-18 months lifecycles.
WebOS is dead
Just a few few weeks after the launch of the HP Touchpad HP has decided to stop sales and close down the tables and smartphone business. After that the board fired CEO Leo Apotheker and it will remain interesting to see if they will stick with this decision or decide to compete again. If they do decide to compete again it will be clear that they have to work very hard to catch up and once again: it is not just about the device, it is about the complete ecosystem.
The outlook for BlackBerryBBX
With this brief analysis of competitors of RIM and the BlackBerry platform we can now look at the BBX (formerly known as QNX platform) and see what this means for BlackBerry:
1.) One can only hope that in April 2010 RIM started working on a mobile operating system that is state of the art in 2012 and not what was known in 2010. Tight integration with many services, voice recognition, high performance CPU and graphics processing are a must.
2.) It is not just about devices but about the ecosystem and with RIM basically creating a new platform they need to provide an fast way to grow the ecosystem. There is no time to grow the ecosystem in 12 or 18 months. In 12 or 18 months other companies will have extended their ecosystem even more and RIM will need to play catch up with all the other devices.
3.) Keyboards are important, but in order to gain market share you might need to focus more on touch devices for consumers and still deliver the worlds best keyboards to enterprise customers.
Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been
Essentially the key for RIM will be to follow the mantra: skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. This is the only how they will be able to get into a position to compete in the market again.