My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Is the Writing now on the wall for RIM Blackberry

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Is the Writing now on the wall for RIM Blackberry


{5:25} And this [is] the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.   
{5:26}    This    [is]    the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy
kingdom, and finished it.
{5:27} TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
{5:28} PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
{5:29} Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and [put] a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be
the third ruler in the kingdom.

Daniel 5 vs 25 29. The King James Version

I rarely write articles that are a commentary on technology. But with all the craziness over Christopher ‘Dudus” Coke, visa revocations and the ongoing drought with water restrictions thrown in, had enjoying life in Jamaica revolved solely around these concerns, I would have already died form despair and desperation. Hence I return to the creature comfort of the Tech World, especially smart phones, as something positive to talk about which are the crown jewels of most Telecoms Providers Networks.

So I have decided to comment on the obvious writing on the wall for the RIM Blackberry, the smart phone that started it all and now very popular in Jamaica and its fortunes in the year’s 2010 to 2011 with the Medes and Persians referring to Apple and Google respectively. It seems in the Telecoms Sector, some iconic brands circa the 1980’s such as the effluvious RIM Blackberry often associated with luxury eventually face stiffer competition from new upstart “yuppie” brands that appeal to a mass market with another luxury product that everyone wants.

That seems to be the verdict that market analysts seem to be implying as it relates to the fate of RIM’s Blackberry brand of smart phone in the report published “Is competition finally getting to RIM? “ published April 1, 2010 8:49 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

So it is true, as now albeit the quarterly results from this original smart phone manufacturer shows an increase in profits for the last quarter of 2009, this increase being less than expected by analyst, despite strong international market demand, which most likely would be in markets where Blackberry smart phone dominance is yet to be fully challenged by the Medes and Persians, such as in Jamaica, where the Blackberry is still popular

Especially on Telecoms Provider Digicel which has the Blackberry Storm as its response to the Telecoms Provider CLARO offering the coveted Apple iPhone. In the United States of America and other similarly developed Telecoms Markets, the Blackberry is facing competition from Apple iPhone and smart phones running Google Android, an encampment that started originally with HTC and now has grown to include even hombres such as Sony Ericsson which was pre-announced recently at the Mobile World Congress in February 2010 as stated in the article  “Sony Ericsson shows love for Android”, published February 14, 2010 6:18 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - 3GSM blog.

These competitors offer dramatic improvements over the Blackberry in the form of touch screen interface, which the Blackberry Storm tried to emulate but is currently having problems. First, both Apple and Google now have their own phones, that being the Apple iPhone and the Google Nexus One respectively as mentioned in the article “Google's mobile hopes gone beyond Nexus One”, published January 5, 2010 5:24 PM PST by Tom Krazit, CNET News - Relevant Results.

Then there is the improved browser in the competition, with Apple iPhone sporting the Safari Browser and the Google Android powered phones browser being, of course, Google. It also hurts RIM’s Blackberry in that the competitors also offer free Apps in their Apps store which RIM rarely does and the Telecom Providers and developers share the profits in the ever expanding Apps Market of both Google Android and Apple iPhone phones as stated in the article “Mobile Apps a gold rush for providers”, published March 25, 2010 7:28 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News – Wireless.

Even worse is the forecast by analysts of the continued growth and popularity of the free Google Android Platform for smart phones and the new smart books as stated in the article “Analysts predict bold growth for Google Android”, published January 25, 2010 2:18 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

The writing however was on the wall when Crowd Science conducted a survey which strongly indicated that persons who were Blackberry owners had a lower loyalty rate than Apple iPhone users i.e. on the coming ending of their mobile phone contracts, more Blackberry users would opt to get another smart phone than to stick with the Blackberry, ostensibly over the above mentioned factors as mentioned in the article “iPhone will continue to beckon Blackberry owners” published March 18, 2010 11:40 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers CNET News Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

So what is Blackberry doing about it?

It is good to note that solutions to the debacle facing RIM can be seen by responses by one of the largest handset makers of the smart phone market, namely Nokia, which accounts for nearly 40% of the smart phone market and had recently decided to offer its Symbian OS as an Open Source Platform while accepting Google Android, a massive code migration that was initiated in a bid to avoid Google Android overrunning the dominance of the Symbian OS on their own Nokia smart phone ecosystem as hinted in the article “Symbian now fully open-sourced”, published February 4, 2010 6:25 AM PST by David Meyer, CNET News – Wireless.

Facing certain extinction as is the now apparently the case with the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixie and its lukewarm acceptance by the consumer market is reflected in its lower last quarter of 2009 results as stated in the article “Palm's future: a vicious cycle”, published March 19, 2010 6:07 AM PDT by Larry Dignan, CNET News– Wireless. Palm may wish to consider this option, as Microsoft is already exercising a similar option in offering the Windows Mobile 7 Platform for free.

RIM of course, stopping short of making an announcement to go Open Source. RIM had previously tried setting up a Social Network as a means of attracting a younger crowd as stated in the article “Report: RIM to launch Blackberry Social Network”, published July 13, 2009 2:35 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News – Wireless.

It, however, raises questions as to its relevance, as Blackberry already has it own Blackberry Messenger Platform which would be best improved and made into a Social Network in a move similar to that of Google in forming Google Buzz using its Gmail Platform to interconnect users already using Google Apps as stated in the article “Buzz Backfire: How Google pushed me to Facebook” published March 5, 2010 4:00 AM PST  by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech, hopefully without the implied legal problems that Google experienced.

RIM has also made the Blackberry Enterprise Server free in a move to counteract the free Google Android Marketplace Platform as stated in “RIM to give away server software”, published February 16, 2010 4:32 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - 3GSM blog.

However, this last measure will only delay the inevitable: RIM has to eventually go Open Source or at least open its Platform to developers to revamp their Blackberry Apps Store with more screened free Apps of high quality but address its nagging technical deficiencies and shortcomings in its browser as well as the Messenger needs to be revamped and made into a Social Network.

Also, there is no need to go touch screen, as Blackberry signature QUERTY keyboard is always there, a feature no virtual keyboard can mimic and making the phone accessible even if the screen is damaged.

Once these are addressed, then Blackberry can gradually reclaim its place as not only the first smart phone catering to the business community but also as a company that patiently observes the trends in the mobile smart phone market and basically changed once all the noise and died down and the dust settled and the technology trends began to solidify to indicate where customer demands are headed as the future becomes clearer.

But as the writing on the wall is now obvious, I would like Daniel in the Bible, wish to be given a robe of scarlet, a gold chain around my neck and a third of the Telecoms Providers Kingdom.
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