Shared publicly  - 
RIM responds

+Alec Saunders of Research in Motion and I had a chat on Friday. Here's his point of view of the conversation :

Me? I think they are in deep trouble with developers. In fact it's getting to be worse and worse everytime I hear someone talk about RIM. A major defense contractor, this weekend, told me they were moving away from Blackberries. I've heard the same from other companies, like GE, Aetna, and Comcast.

Will their strategy be enough to pull them out? I don't believe so. They are facing not just two very powerful ecosystems:

1. Apple.
2. Google.

But a third competitor, Microsoft, has very deep pockets and still is loved by its developers as well, not to mention that they have a much better ecosystem with Windows, Office, and Xbox.

That said, there still is a lot of love for Blackberry and RIM around the world and many millions still carry their devices. That tells me they still have a shot, even though if it's a very small shot indeed.

Hey, I remember the days when the industry said Apple didn't have a chance. Of course they had Steve Jobs and Apple didn't have three strong competitors bashing it, only one who was just about to get slow due to the DOJ action and its sheer size.

But, maybe I'm wrong. I've been wrong before.
“So, did you see what I wrote?”, he asked? And that’s how my conversation with @scobleizer started. I had dropped him a note a couple of weeks ago
Albert Gordon's profile photoJames Hassinger's profile photoBill Hughes's profile photoRich V's profile photo
I think you are right Robert. I did think that the RIM foray into managing non RIM devices from a BES adjunct might be their saviour but I suspect all this would do is keep them in the device management business with out having many of their own handsets under management.
Robert, outside of their existing user base, is there unique value or significant potential for it? Nothing is really coming to mind for me personally, but perhaps you can identify some strengths they possess to get them out of this bind.
RIM stopped being relevant 2 or 3 years ago. Companies that fail to innovate should be ignored.
Nokia was saying the same thing two or three years ago that RIM is saying right now. And Nokia is making windows phone. Nuff said
You both are probably going to have to make a phone call about the blog post about a phone call.
RIM has become the IE7 of mobile. There's a chance they could make a comeback, but they've got one hell of a hill to climb with cross-platform developers.
I think if they play it right Microsoft has the best chance given enterprise love for Windows OS for so many years. They know the brand, the software. I heard a few going for Apple, heard more allowing the employees decide and going with a more web based office suite. Time will tell but I agree RIM is irrelevant. I think they suffered from the "were the top dog" mentality and failed to see anyone else as a competitor.

Also if Microsoft does get the metro interface right, a unity in look, feel, between phone, tablet, laptop, etc could be very appealing to enterprise / Blackberry market.
I'm not sure I'd characterize the emotions Microsoft developers feel as "love". Perhaps "familiarity" would be much better there.
All a developer needs to do is compare Xcode with RIM's offering. It's like facing off a modern army with one armed only with flint knives & stone axes.

(granted it's been ~3 years since I last looked at RIM's dev tools)
What I noticed in watching developers try to get Adobe AIR apps into Appworld last year was that RIM was somewhere between Apple and Google in dev relations, but also worse on a third vector. They required Notaries, fax machines, and such. Most developers now a days don't even have land lines, let alone a fax machine. If they wanted to win the hearts and minds of developers, they needed to follow through. Free devices is a great first step, but getting apps into the market, and helping make sure developers make money, is the other step. It didn't seem like RIM was interested or capable of that part.

As someone who had and wanted to love a playbook, they seemed to be punishing away (or maybe pushing down) devs of certain apps. In the time I owned my playbook, not a single email app was approved. 1 twitter app was (and it stunk), and no PIM apps. The forums were rife with devs complaining about months in review, rejections, etc. It felt like RIM was forcing us to wait for whatever they offered in PIM functionality coming in some 'future update'. I sold my playbook before that update rolled out, heck I don't know if it ever did. Did it? There was just so long I could kill time with Need for Speed on a device that easily coulda been a nice reader, twitter tool, and basic calendar device. It wasn't gonna be something I compose documents or long emails on, but the size, screen, and hardware had such HUGE potential.

RIM is in trouble, from a consumer and developer perspective, they're not winning new friends.
I just switched from Android to Blackberry. I love the Bold 9900, but I know RIM has a tough road ahead of them. They better make sure they launch their new phones with their new operating system well...
RIM is dead, and will never be the company they use to be. Apple, Google, and even Microsoft (maybe) are way to strong and powerful. RIM should have gotten it's BB10 phones a year or two ago... 2011 has been such a mess for them, they will never be able to dig themselves out.
First thing RIM needs to do is change their name. Too many RIM jokes around. I'm serious.
No Robert, you are not wrong! Developers are abandoning them in groves. A sellout conference means nothing, Google IO was sold out in 10 minutes! That's a sell out.

I also mentioned my story on your previous post about trying and trying to get in touch with someone inside of RIM to talk with about porting our fairly popular apps on iPhone/Android to BB and we hard a very hard time getting someone to talk to us, let alone help us, despite having friends inside of RIM.

And your point about Microsoft is also very true, MS gave tons of cash to developers to port their iOS apps and Android apps to WP7, they are still behind the leaders but they are already ahead of BB.

I also know many hardcore BB users that are using iPads, because the iPad has much better apps. 2 years ago most of the people I know had BB, now only a small percentage do and most of them are just waiting for their contract to expire so they switch. In fact my brother paid the penalty to break his phone contract just to switched to an iPhone.

Their problem now is that it's too late, Apple had a marketing issue with Macs, and they still do (let's not fool ourselves, Apple success is with iOS not Mac).
Add to that that their phones are not compatible with each other! Why would any developer waste their time to build an app that works on only a portion of the 9% smartphone market
RIM is either at or near death. There is not one person out here in technology land that doesn't believe this. If you own RIM stock - sell it! 
+Mike Keller maybe you are right, but remember that people used to said the same about Apple just a couple of years ago.
+Gordon Grieder its still the same. You should look at Android SDK, it's like bringing laser guided army to the battle. Our iPhone developers always envy how easy it is for our Android devs to do the same things with their SDK.
I see a difference between +Alec Saunders ' arguments and Robert's. Alec's are more professional and funded. Robert's are those from a Blogger. Again, American bloggers are in their Silicon's bubble. i.e., in Canada, the BB Playbook has 15% market share, taking the iPad from 86% to 64%. H & S in the PB is gorgeous and professional.
A friend of mine who recently experienced a hardware malfunction with his iPhone 3 was told by his company that he will need to turn in his iPhone for a new BlackBerry because the company was unwilling to pay for a replacement iPhone. He opted to keep the crippled iPhone instead of being forced to use a BlackBerry again. I think this scenario summarizes what RIM is up against. More power to them.
Hopefully +TrueCaller will make the BB platform a bit more attractive when we launch it next week :) at least it will support full functionality with incoming caller ID, call blocker etc. I hope they will stick around for a while and fix their mistakes. Regarding the development tools, they do suck. The APIs are old and it takes too many lines of code to do a simple thing. I like the activity structure in Android with UI xml forms, if you want to compare another java based dev platform
+Jaime Barillas I am in Canada, I see more Kobo and kindle ereaders than the BB playbook in the wild. Plus what is the overall number of PB being sold? I think it is less than one million units.
"another undifferentiated Android handset" is where he's wrong. RIM has the change to be a well-differentiated Android handset. Things like BBM and enterprise security aren't the cruddy features other OEM's skins claim to add.
+Daniel Mandel I agree here. I am in Canada too, I know scores of people with iPads, but only one person with PB who eventually dumped it and bought a new iPad lol
RIM may be a walking zombie for the mobile phone platform, but they do have a reasonable chance to recover in the tablet market. As long as Idevices stay locked down, the HTML5 option will give them some viability. It also opens them up to new HTML5 exploits that can cause trouble, so overall I would say this is an overall push.
Wow u guys are hilarious... so stuck in the past it's sad... RIM has admitted it's had issues... Wait till you see Cascades on BB10 and then say RIM is dead again. So quick to kill companies off. Have any of u seen and used a BlackBerry PlayBook? It's sick

RIM is dead?

Look at some facts in terms of $ alone. I've never seen a company that's already DEAD that's still making that much of a profit. True, if BB10 doesn't work out, then odds are it's over for RIM, but do not say they are already dead when they still have a REALLY good shot to get back in the game with what they have coming.
+Jake Weisz spot on. If RIM decided to apply their expertise in their android devices, they will certainly stand out. And as if the average BB user actually care if its Android or BB OS running on their Blackberry.
+Gabriel Martin that's the first time I've heard anyone praise Xcode =). RIM's tools for Java dev were complete crap until they migrated the tools to Eclipse. Now it's not bad (though setup is still not super smooth). Personally I find Eclipse WAY better than XCode (and I hear that a lot from devs) so I don't think that the actual tooling is worse on RIM still but the installation and setup of them still needs some love.
+JT. Terán that's if RIM release BB OS 10 this fall. And with RIM's current speed in adopting QNX to smaller devices, I don't really see much hope in that. I mean they are just releasing the much needed Playbook update near the end of this month almost a year they lunched the device.
He has good points but it isn't the tech that matters. I care about what my market has in their pocket or what tablet they carry AND the direction of those products in the market. RIM isn't on the radar in California anymore. Wish them luck elsewhere.
+Jim Preston Do you have to be on the California radar to be successful? Or just to get a fair shake in the tech press?
+JT. Terán We have all sorts of mobile devices we use for testing our apps (over 10 tablets), one of them is PB.
It has no useful apps, and the browser is buggy as hell, for the longest time it even lacked basic touch event support. We wanted to use it this month to demo one of our apps in a local network environment, but guess what? there is no email support (Tethering is a no-go in a local network demo environment). So demo was called off. So yes it is a sick tablet.

One more thing. The Playbook went missing for 3 months and nobody noticed. We founded left in a moving box after one of our conferences lol
+Jeffrey Bacon do you know that BlackBerry plugin does not work with 64 bit Eclipse? anyone still using 32bit please raise your hand.
+Samir Al-Battran since you can run the 32-bit Eclipse on a 64-bit system and the full download of the NDK for RIM (PlayBook) includes a full Eclipse installation I believe (since it's based on the Momentics IDE from +QNX QNX) and for Java BB dev you can install a 32-bit Eclipse alongside a 64-bit one... I'm not sure what the issue is. Not saying an update wouldn't help, but no tools are perfect.
+Jeffrey Bacon The issue is I have to install two versions of Eclipse AND that means I also have to install 32 bit Java in addition to 64 bit. What does that mean? I am sure you know that running two version of Java runtime at the same time is no fun.
So can you develop an Android app, or Java backend while building a BB app on the same machine? my answer is yes, but very painful (usually involves swear words)

No tool is perfect, but try Visual Studio, then we can see what you think of RIM. What RIM gives is just crap compared to Visual Studio > Android SDK + Eclipse plugin > XCode
+Jeffrey Bacon I dev for California first. Eventually remote backwaters like Seattle, New York, and Europe catch up :-) Just teasing but if something plays well here it usually gets traction everywhere.
Comcast is moving away from blackberry? Fantastic. I can't wait to dump this POS.
+Samir Al-Battran true, running 2 Java VMs simultaneously is a pain, but for iOS, WinPhone7, Android and BB you need 2 machines anyway ;)

Each dev tool chain has its weaknesses, for me, the requirement for a Mac for iOS dev is more troublesome than the BB requirements ... but maybe that's just because I'm a PC guy :)
+Jim Preston I don't think that's necessarily true. There's a ton of stuff that gets traction in the Cali market that dies or goes nowhere after -- despite tons of undeserved press.
I've picked up bits and pieces of this from Fridays Gillmore, and would love to read the blog post... However I'm currently on a train out of London reading this on my blackberry and Mr Saunders site is not very compatible with the browser on the blackberry curve. It doesn't switch to mobile, however it does zoom with some success... If it wasn't for the social toolbar moving and blocking the text, I would probably find it an interesting read. Personally, I find that not only very telling of the blackberry, but also a bit of a fail. Personal opinion.
I agree that RIM is all but over at this point, however I am compelled to point out that those who say they have been dead for 3 years or more have clearly never worked in a corporate IT department. Until the last couple of years most large corporate IT departments would not allow anything mobile on their networks except Blackberry. It wasn't until they were basically forced by users screaming for iPhone support that this changed. I would even go so far as to say that if not for the path laid by the iPhone, most corporate IT departments never would have yielded to the Android and Blackberry would still be the only choice.

Microsoft is way behind today, but I don't think they should be dismissed just yet. I think it is Xbox and Kinect integration that is going to make Windows Phone (and Windows 8 devices) desirable to many people. Microsoft is working to build an entire device ecosystem much as Apple has. Only time will tell if they can succeed. They have become their own worst enemy by lagging behind the times in mobile for so long. If they keep up that pace they are doomed.
Can you really go by "sold out developer conferences"? Seems to me they (usually) give out great free swag, lots of drinking and geek speak...on the downside, they are a bit of a sausage fest. Attendance doesn't mean that developers aren't fleeing the platform. Some people are bored (or sent for free), or have morbid curiosity and like watching train wrecks.

RIM is dead. Destroyed by the same arrogance that made them popular.
+Jake Weisz Would BBM and security features really make it different enough? BBM could be a messaging app right now on any platform if they wanted. Security is a valid point, and would be a good sell - but would that be enough?

The only other thing RIM is known for is great physical keyboards, which hasn't been on a top tier Android phone in almost two years - it's a dying animal. RIM has historically sucked at touchscreens. Could you imagine running Android using RIM's "click screen" abortion of technology? They would either have to pull a rabbit out of their ass and innovate something awesome, or swallow their pride and see what Android looks like. I just don't think either will happen.
He said "It’s time for us to start a dialog with the Valley"...uh...START? Maybe that's why you're losing share like microsoft is to apple... I like the HTML 5 webapp sounds like a new open app standard but i could also see how it could be a bit too open for developers who prefer things that can be packaged and sold. just my 2 cents
+Andrew Yarnall I'm huge on keyboard phones. I have a Droid Bionic, but my daily carry is a Droid 3, largely for the keyboard. A good keyboard is still the king of mobile in my book. Keep in mind, BlackBerries running Android wouldn't be a big sell for customers, it'd be a big sell for business deployments who wanted to use BBESE to manage them and all. And I think for that case, it'd be more than enough.
Sorry But RIM is more like RIP.
As a mobile developer, I have to say that I have no interest in developing for RIM devices. And hearing from people like Alec Saunders that they are so far in denial only serves to validate that sentiment. He sounds like a horse-and-carriage representative during the rise of the automobile. "Yes, we know the automobile is going to be big, but by making our carriages more comfortable, we think we can compete." No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
+Robert Scoble - They must not be looking at you, Apple, Android, the App culture or even Nokia with their attempt to change by embracing WM7 (which I personally dont understand, but at least it shows a corporate willingness to change). The flamingo approach of sticking your head in the sand generally doesnt work well in business, especially in tech.

I like your idea to jump on the android train but can understand why they dont want to. Maybe they should jump on WebOS now that HP has had their way with it...I'm sure they could license or buy it for much less than HP paid for Palm.
+Robert Scoble Agreed, the whole problem is that right now, BlackBerry has no apps to draw from. +Kyle Field Another abandoned platform isn't going to solve that problem.
+JT. Terán Palm was once profitable too. RIM like Palm, had a very successful innovation and proceeded harvest their innovation. Exactly what anyone might do in similar circumstances. However, they added nothing new and became obsolete. RIM has tried to copy other innovators with a touch screen, app store and tablet -- and failed. The only reason they are going to last longer than Palm without real innovation is because they have recurring revenue unlike Palm.

+Alec Saunders gave me no hope that he recognizes the real problem.
+Robert Scoble I see Web OS as innovative and one of the only platforms that truly improved the user experience. IMHO, it is the only OS that deviated from the first version of iOS which is what just about everyone else copied.

If RIM embraced the innovation of the OS that Web OS delivers vs its peers and invests in building a developer pool to support it, they would be in much better shape than they are now. Obviously, any OS improvements would have to be slapped onto a completely overhauled hardware product line.
+Kyle Field I have never played with Web OS, it came out long after I abandoned Palm for a BlackBerry, but I have heard good things about it. Classic too little too late. Palm rushed into the phone market with the Treo and destroyed their brand based on simplicity with a complicated buggy device. Sound familiar?
+Kyle Field Two companies' mobile efforts died on webOS, why do you think it's going to suddenly and magically save another? It doesn't matter how innovative the OS is if nobody has written software for it. And the writing's on the wall, there's two (with kinda a third) platforms that people are developing apps for. That's the playing field now. That's why RIM is falling out of the game.
+Jake Weisz don't forget that it cost 3-4 billion for HP to even leverage a webos device to the market.
The common thread here is "too little, too late". Iphones and droids (touchscreens) were the rage, and the RIM response was the Storm.

Granted, you have people who don't want to give up the physical qwerty, but they are becoming the minority. Look at how many devices Apple has sold where the only physical keyboard requires Bluetooth. Network admins have now embrace Iphones and Androids on their networks. Large companies are publicly leaving the platform. RIM had that embarrassing outage a few months ago. The co-CEOs whittled away any / all goodwill with their arrogant nonsense, leaving the new guy holding 7 pounds of crap in a 2 pound bag. Employees are writing public diatribes calling out their employer for losing focus and not innovating. The playbook was DOA alongside the HP touchpad. Oh yeah, there's no apps for the platform. Developers are leaving.

With the avalanche of all this bad stuff, RIM needs a resurrection miracle that would make Jesus Christ jealous.
+Robert Scoble Microsoft realizes very well that its all about apps. They shelled half a billion dollars to app developers to clone their apps moving to WP7. MS also has one of the best developer relations out there, they are very responsive and keep encouraging developers to build apps for their platform. Their biggest problem is image and the OS itself, WP7's web browser is still very lacking. After iOS and Android WP7 definitely the next OS to build apps for, they just need to increase their user base so developers start targeting them as first tier OS. It's the chicken and egg, perhaps they need to pay more developers to build apps on their platform so more users start buying their phone.

On the other hands RIM still doesn't get apps, and their users don't get apps either but they do once they see an iPhone or Android. This is very obvious from the HTML5/WebWorks comments you got from Alec.
+Robert Scoble - There's a critical mass of apps that users need...beyond that it reaches a point of diminishing returns quickly. Users need their core apps and enough constant innovation in app space to stay relevant with their friends but the average user is not going to be playing with all of the bleeding edge apps. I'm not saying the pathetic WM7 dev community is sufficient but if RIM truly makes an all out investment in getting developers on board, they may have a shot.

We currently have iPhones for the everyday users, Android for the Techy "I like to Flash my ROMs on the run"/Linux people...RIM needs to find and define their niche...Web OS or a solid android based implementation could be the key.

IMHO, Microsoft is only investing in WM7 as a spoiler - we all know they're making more on Android than on their on Mobile OS. They will gain share due to tight integration with their dominant desktop OS but will likely not be able to overcome the shortage of developers. Their one saving grace is that they are following the apple model of creating a unified platform across WM7, windows 8 including it's heavy focus on touch friendliness and even Xbox. This will all be supported on the backend by their recent investment in SkyDrive integration (

+Jake Weisz - The iphone was innovative before the app store because of it's OS. If we're saying that outside of the closed iOS app world, the answer is ONLY android, we have failed by accepting another monopoly. Saying that either Palm or HP truly invested in Web OS (two companies have let it fail) is a joke as the only real investment either made was by Palm in developing it.
I'm a visionary optimist ground in realism...I'm not saying that RIM has no chance as they do have market share and a very well known brand. Having said that, they have absolutely failed to innovate and to stay relevant to their consumer base and if they dont change, they will fail.
+Robert Scoble I heard similar stories, but I also know app developers that made good money from the MS deal.
Of course those offers didn't make sense for larger developers to build complex apps, but it made sense for the indies who can build a medium sized up for a good sum of money.
I also know larger businesses here (in Canada) that launched on WP7 first because MS sponsored building their app.
+Robert Scoble You don't have to preach to me :) I build only Android and iPhone apps, and the only reason is because we don't have resources to "waste" building on systems that has very small user base (WP7) or bad user experience (BB).

But my point was that MS does get apps, they just can't get people to build them for free :)
Most apps are not portable. If you buy the apps on iOS, you next platform needs to be iOS or you are losing your investment. To move to MS or RIM, you have to not only give up the ecosystem but the polished apps you paid for. Android and iOS are vacuuming up the users and selling them apps which means instead of selling a device to a new user, RIM and MS will have to convince an invested iOS or Android user to switch. Good luck.
+Robert Scoble The reason I'm pushing back or maybe that I just dont see it that way is that iOS is closed and is not appealing to everyone. Android is too techy for many users and not as user friendly as iOS. This split leaves a wide gap in the market for another open OS. Maybe the answer is wrapping android with the newly open sourced Web OS...maybe not. I'm not saying it will be an easy fight, but the easy fight rarely takes us places worth going.

Personally, I have owned an iPhone since day 1 and every version in between. I have also owned the G1 and many iterations of Android devices up through the Kindle Fire, tablets etc. I'm bored of both mobile platforms and their minor iterative developments. I think that many in the tech community are similarly bored. Sure, everyday users who havent owned a smartphone before are being blown away by iPhones (my wife is getting very excited about ditching her corporate blackberry for a newly added iPhone option) but the trendsetters...the Scobles of the world (if I may be so bold) would eagerly adopt an innovative new Mobile OS that had a solid base of core apps behind it...hailing it as the next big thing. This verdict is what will pull the remaning developers to the platform with the long tail of late adopting end users to jump on board (such as my wife getting an iPhone 4 years after release and being blown away by everything it (still) does).
+Kyle Field Your definition of the market is off but your observations are right. iOS is closed and Android is techy but that does not make a gap in the main part of the market. The majority of users are not techy and don't care iOS is closed -- they simply love the fact they can do cool things with a phone/tablet that doesn't make them feel stupid.

My retired parents love their iPhones and iPad -- they are frustrated with their Windows computers. iOS makes using a mobile device as easy as driving a car.

Android competes by making it cheaper to own a smart device.

There is no hole in the market. Expensive and easy to use for iOS or cheap, clunky and somewhat techy for Android. There is no gap.
+Bill Hughes I agree that most users dont care about open vs closed. I was differentiating because RIM does not have the option to just tap into apples apps like they do with android. Open vs closed as I'm talking it here is really just saying that other OEMs need to either borrow android's existing app base or create their own app ecosystem.

The hole is for a device/platform that is inexpensive AND easy to use with fewer apps being the offset.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" doesnt just sound good when it comes from Cupertino...
+Kyle Field the real question then becomes: does RIM's management have what it takes to move in a direction you are describing in an innovative way?

Sadly, given their lack of leadership to this point, I doubt it. 
Denial... wow, that is the issue isn't it. They just don't get it. Don't know why it upsets me, ... more I guess, sad for them....

I moved away from black berry after getting burnt on the "storm" several years ago. All the BB users at my company are dropping like flies. Used to be standard issue, now, we (IT) tell new hires, "You can just use your iPhone or Android phone and expense it..."
I don't think they still hv any chances.
If they brought out the Playbook last year, with the e-mail hooked up, maybe -- but they'd still be short about half a million apps.
Rich V
I work at a Law School in NYC, and we just recently pulled the majority of our Blackberries from staff and replaced them with iPhones. The remaining devices and the associated BES will be gone by the summer.
Rich V
Only a limited group of people are on the BES, there are others that use school supplied devices, but have to rely on either the provider supplied sync, or desktop manager. Full sync with our Exchange environment without the need for any secondary hardware or software is a big benefit. Not needing the BES and its associated licensing costs also factored in. End users wanted more applications as well.
Add a comment...