RIM is in Orlando this week laying the foundation for BlackBerry 10, the next version of its platform aimed at returning the firm to relevance in the mobile space. It is trying to excite the mobile technorati with its ability to become the third horse in the mobile platform race. Hearing the conversation about BlackBerry 10 unfold, I am struck by similarities I hear from the Windows Phone crowd.
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Microsoft is in a much better situation than RIM; it probably wouldn't be tremendously affected if Windows Phone failed in the market (unlikely). That's not keeping the folks in Redmond from continuing to work hard to get the platform into third place in the mobile arena.
Windows Phone also has a firm advantage over BlackBerry 10 as it already exists in buyers hands. It doesn't have to start from scratch as RIM must do, having confirmed that the new BlackBerry software will not work on existing RIM hardware.
Even though Windows Phone has a tremendous advantage over BlackBerry 10, I can't help but feel that could change when the latter hits the market. What is fueling this feeling is how I keep having the same conversation with Windows Phone enthusiasts that I've been having since its initial release.
That conversation basically goes like this: Windows Phone is touted as a great platform that meets all of the enthusiast's needs. Upon further questioning about this feature or that function, it eventually results in the claim that big feature X is coming in the next version. Clarification is then offered from Microsoft that the feature will indeed be in Windows Phone 8, the next version.
This repeated conversation is what led to my earlier article questioning when Windows Phone will be feature complete. It's clear quite a bit more work is needed before Windows Phone will be a complete solution for many folks.
The fact Windows Phone still has so much that needs to be done gives it more in common with RIM and BlackBerry 10 than most enthusiasts want to believe. If Microsoft is watching the BlackBerry 10 news this week, it must give them pause. If RIM is able to hit the ground running with BlackBerry 10, it could give Windows Phone a serious run for that all-important third horse position.
RIM does come from a strong enterprise security and messaging position, and if it leverages that with BlackBerry 10 it could affect a resurrection for the company. One thing the BlackBerry has enjoyed for a long time is a very dedicated user base. This can jump-start RIM with BlackBerry 10 to give a good showing against Windows Phone right out of the gate.
Android and iOS have nothing to fear from either RIM or Microsoft for the foreseeable future, but having a good third horse in the race is important for the industry. It will be fun to watch if the little guy (yes, RIM is now the little guy) can give Goliath (Microsoft) a run for third place. Everyone loves the underdog.