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I don't understand why they are persisting with this BB10 strategy.

Blackberry's value is not in the core operating system. It is in the business apps, BB messenger, unique keyboard, enterprise features etc. It seems like they would be much better off adopting Android as their base and building proprietary features on top.

It just seems like they are spending all their time just to create a product that can barely compete with the 1st iPhone let alone the 5th.




I think those proprietary, enterprise features are massively overstated. Push email isn't so new now, and iOS and Android are quickly closing the gap on enterprise features, including device management, remote wipe, VPN etc.

Just like Microsoft, BlackBerry has and will continue to have lots of loyal customers. That's not enough to grow a company, though, and having started out in the consumer market, Android and iOS now have a huge advantage in the enterprise since employees are asking to bring their own device to work.


Which is basically why they are dead in the water. They don't have an avenue for growth.


They drank their own kool-aid.

Maybe they have so brainwashed themselves that they actually believe BB10 is poised to take the world. It has some "killer" feature such "customizable download button" or something and it will just blow away the competition.

All the ones that have not drunk the kool-aid have either left or where pushed out for being negative or not being a team player.

To dissect the last part. They have probably been talking internally about how much iOS and Android suck and how they are just temporary fads. That shit becomes part of the corporate common set of beliefs. Anyone in power of making a change knows, if they all of the sudden admit that BB10 is a failure or Android is better, they are perceived as a traitor and not a team player.


I've known exactly one RIM employee. He was fairly high up the food chain. I met him at a party and for some reason I ended up talking to him for an extended period (end of the evening, too much booze). He was racist, sexist, pretentious and convinced of his own ability to understand the world.

This was when iPhones had firmly taken hold of the market and BBs were already yesterday's handset. I talked about that with him and he threw a lot of jargon at me and listed the reasons why RIM would continue to dominate into the future.

That conversation was unpleasant enough that I still think of it whenever I see RIM news pop up. If he was characteristic at all of upper-level execs there then it's absolutely no surprise to me that RIM is circling the toilet bowl.


>Blackberry's value is not in the core operating system.

I don't know. RIM gets high marks from governments around the world for its platform security, and it's the OS that is certified. Version 7.1, for example, was recently certified by the US, UK and New Zealand governments. So I'm not sure that switching OS would be such a good move.


Considering RIM was among the first to open their servers to enforcement agencies the world over, that "security certification" gets quite a sinister double-speak overtone.


At this point, it's probably too late to adopt Android. It'd probably take as long or longer to come out with an Android OS (with all their apps) as it would to just finish BB10 now.


The point of Android OS isn't to save money, it's to win customers. I'm not 100% sure why people prefer Android or iOS to BBX, but I think it's partly just psychological. Whatever the reason is, I think Samsung and Apple are pretty happy with RIM and Nokia using a different (even if arguably superior) OS which don't sell very well.

RIM has over 1B cash, has about 16,500 (soon 11,500) employees. Most of their loss was from writedowns, so their burn rate might not be too bad. They might have time to switch to Android. They can't afford BB10 to flop, but I'm pretty sure it will (even if it's actually a great OS).

If they can loose some heads, and switch to Android, they might generate some confidence which could help them get funding. An Android phone with a competitive advantage (in some niches) over Samsung is something I'd bet on. A phone with a new OS in 2013 is not.


Revolutionary things don't begin with poor management and they sure don't begin after mass layoffs. Besides, they haven't just lost 5,000; maybe they did today but a bunch more will quit voluntarily in the next month (now that this huge red flag has been waved in front of them by management).

The people left over will not be willing to bust their asses to make great products for 2013, even if they're capable of doing so. They will be exercising their skills at printing résumés. What is RIM going to do: give them raises, while they're losing money? More like their Office Space bosses will tell them how greeaaaaaat it would be for them to start coming in on Saturdays. No, RIM has lost whatever chance it had to try something new. The next series of moves will all be drastic and they'll have only golden parachutes in mind.


"I'm not 100% sure why people prefer Android or iOS to BBX, but I think it's partly just psychological."

People prefer software that has existed for several years to software that might never be released. This isn't psychological, it's the same reason cats are a more popular pet than unicorns.


I don't think it's psychological. I think both Android and iOS have better hardware that you can do more with. Beyond just apps - I can actually usefully browse websites on Android or IOS; when I tried on a Blackberry a few years ago, it was absolute torture. Bad web browser that didn't render sites well with a stupid trackball instead of a touch screen. I loved the e-mail, but e-mail was the only thing it did well. Maybe they have improved in the past few years, but they're not getting another chance from me, because meanwhile Android's web browser, driving directions, and Swype have -exceeded- my expectations.


Disclaimer: I worked on the WebKit team at RIM. Starting in BB6 (two years ago) Blackberry shipped with a WebKit browser which was leagues better than the old Java browser. Maybe this is a marketing problem for RIM as in just about every RIM thread on Hacker News someone complains about their old Java browser not knowing that current RIM OS's ship with WebKit.


The web browser. I loved my BB, but ditched it when it became clear to me that they didn't take browsing seriously.


BB6 and later use webkit which is a huge step in the right direction. Judging from the scores on html5test.com, they are taking the browser seriously these days.


Build BB10 as a layer on top of Android. Do not make it too dependent on the OS.


See I don't know about that.

There seems to be this massive appetite right now for stock Android devices because of the pretty woeful update policies of the OEMs.

It just seems like RIM would have a lot of success having a stock Android + the fancy BB10 keyboard. And then gradually drip feeding new BB only apps.


OTOH, the window for that might have closed. If you believe the rumors (and the PDK announcement certainly points in this direction) there's a fleet of stock Android devices coming this fall.


Having used both the Playbook OS and Android, the Playbook is a much nicer OS in my opinion.

That said, they should have released BB10 years ago.


>> ..as their base and building proprietary features on top.

I thought they were essentially doing that with QNX. It should utterly kick ass on a phone if they can manage battery life. As a bonus they control the O/S update cycle + avoid open source licensing issues that may sit poorly with some of their core customers. Just need to put the apps on it. I don't think android would have made things work out any better for them. They failed hardcore in other ways.


Like Nokia until a couple of years ago, they've been very dismissive about the tech press calling out their imminent decline, and about switching to another OS.


Perhaps it will go down in history as a "sunk cost" case study for economy students.


I've said this before, and I'll say this again. RIM's issue isn't engineering ability or know-how. It's the lack of communication, which results in product delays and market failures.

I've documented my own issues with them here: http://www.xitijpatel.com/2012/06/a-desktop-bridge-too-far/


A Blackberry phone's value is BBM so you can communicate with your fellow employees (supposedly anonymously) versus e-mail which seems incredibly formal in comparison and BBM is faster too.

BBM is certainly not a replacement for e-mail but it's an alternative to, well, nothing.


It's not anonymous, I've written SOX/FINRA compliance software for BES/BBM and he who controls the BES server can access the BBM messages.


Good to know, I figured as much just to be on the safe side.

Strike "supposedly".


Disagree. Competitors like WhatsApp with greater cross-platform reach, on top of the repeated worldwide BBM outages in recent years contributed to RIM's woes, to the extent that having a BB now is considered a burden.


WhatsApp has the cross-platform compatibility, but I find it horribly slow and inconsistent compared to BBM.

When I send something with WhatsApp, I know it will probably get there, but I'm not sure when, in what order, or at what relative time - and it takes a while to figure that out. When I send something with BBM, I know that it will either get there instantly or not at all, and I know that right away. For me, the latter is better.


I agree with most of what you said, but they should use Windows 8, not Android. Then all the right business apps will just work.


I think you nailed it. Their market was / is enterprise, which is a place where they certainly could have competed. I wouldn't want to be in the consumer space squeezed between Android and the iPhone, but RIM had a helluva position in enterprise.

I do wonder though, if this isn't simply an inevitable case of software eating unnecessary hardware options. That is, whether RIM's only good option was to become a software-only company that builds enterprise software on top of Android and iOS. It would mean the mass contraction of their scale that way as well.


They don't have to be software-only, the large majority of Android phones aren't made by, or in partnership with, Google. In fact, their hardware division might be the least affected by switching to android. Their core OS people would be the ones taking the biggest hit in terms of job cuts or transfers, and all their apps people would have to start porting over to a new platform.


The Android hardware business is a horrible business for all but a few of the manufacturers.

I don't see what the benefit for them would to compete in the hardware business when they can deliver their software on top of 95% of all smart phones instead.


> The Android hardware business is a horrible business for all but a few of the manufacturers.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/android-and-apple-market...

In terms of operating revenue, Motorola died in 2007, Sony Ericsson died in 2008. That left Nokia, RIM, HTC, Samsung, and Apple.

Apart from Apple, the only companies to make more money after Android was released were Samsung and HTC, because they were the only viable phone makers who switched to Android. Motorola and Sony Ericsson were already toast - they couldn't compete with HTC and Samsung.

RIM and Nokia are the other two viable handset manufacturers. If they switch to Android, I think they'd make more money.

> I don't see what the benefit for them would to compete in the hardware business when they can deliver their software on top of 95% of all smart phones instead.

"If we can capture just X% of this huge market, we'll make out like bandits!".


>Apart from Apple, the only companies to make more money after Android was released were Samsung and HTC, because they were the only viable phone makers who switched to Android. Motorola and Sony Ericsson were already toast - they couldn't compete with HTC and Samsung.

What? I don't get your logic. What do you mean by viable and why do you consider RIM and Nokia to be viable when they're deep in the red?

If switching to Android didn't work for Motorola, Sony, LG, and even HTC(revenues and profits are crashing hard), why would it work for Nokia or RIM?

Competing in a race to the bottom with minimal customer loyalty(see HTC's lack of repeat sales) is not really viable.


RIM and Nokia were doing well before Android and iOS. LG, Sony, and Motorola were not.


why do you consider RIM and Nokia to be viable when they're deep in the red?

Not the OP, but both RIM & Nokia had excellent sales channels (much better than Motorola, Sony or LG) and Nokia especially had fantastic scale to for their logistics chain. Nokia could build and distribute any phone cheaper than anyone else in the world. In the post Tim Cook world Apple may well have surpassed them there now though.


People loved their hardware, they could have kept a huge chunk of the enterprise market and been one of those few manufacturers. If they had maintained their peak market share, it might have been worth it. At the very least it would have been a much easier change for the company to make than cutting half of their workforce and completely changing their business strategy.


Their market was enterprise. It's now social, and in particular texters. People buy their phones because of the unlimited texting and the keyboard. That is all.




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