In what seems like either a strong or last-gasp move by RIM to remain relevant for just a bit longer – and attempt to compete (or merely survive) with the Android and iOS smartphones that have worked together to decimate their market share – they announced they will be allowing Android Apps within new models. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear that its going to be enough.
RIM (Research in Motion) are the makers of BlackBerrys – the ubiquitous communication device for businesses only a short few years ago. They are still relative favorites of IT departments due to their secure interface with Enterprise solutions. The problem for them is that iPhones and Androids are so much more popular due to the applications that are available and their user interfaces. While RIM has provided some nice BlackBerrys with solid UI, there is just not enough development of essential apps for their platform. Developers have long lamented the challenges of programming for and distributing of BlackBerry apps. So, they mainly stopped. The Apple App Store and Android Market products dwarf the BlackBerry App World inventory.
With the addition of Android app integration in the QNX operating system they are set to release next year, they certainly solve some issues. But, the larger issue is how many people already have or had BlackBerrys and the move to iOS or Android is already made. RIM had less than stellar sales on their tablets and it begs the question whether they can still be relevant.
One of RIMs successes was their security that made IT professionals comfortable with it. By including Google’s Android products, they are possibly opening themselves up to the malware attacks that hit the Android Market recently.
It will be interesting to see if this move was also to entice Google to acquire RIM – something that has been buzzing through the blogosphere recently, but now less likely after Google’s Motorola Mobility pending acquisition.
So, while there are strong merits to the move, I feel they waited too long to make this shift. If there were a software upgrade to existing phones, it would certainly help – who knows if that will ultimately come. Heading into a weekend, I don’t want to post something stupid about RIM and gRIM reaper, so I won’t. I don’t see this as anything more than something to prolong the death – or M&A from a larger company – but I’ve been wrong before…