Are you ready to jam, BlackBerry developers?
Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis this morning unveiled a new name for its next-generation mobile operating system, BBX, in an effort to convince developers to stick with his company's platform.
Reeling from a three-day global outage that showed a humbled Lazaridis speaking solemnly about switch failures, the BlackBerry DevCon event showed a more upbeat executive selling the future.
What kind of future is unclear. As my CNET colleague Roger Chen reports, "BBX combines the best qualities of RIM's older BlackBerry operating system and its QNX platform, which powers the PlayBook tablet." Among the changes are an upgraded gaming engine, user interface and HTML 5 compatibility, as well as an updated business model that eases the process for developers and boosts their profits.
Lazaridis aims to lure developers back from Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms, but you could argue that he simply needs to do a better job providing a mobile platform for the enterprise. Big business has expressed serious concern about Android's security, for one, and it's clear that IT departments are not entirely convinced that iOS or Android are the answer.
But the devices keep showing up at the office, thanks to their popularity at home and pressure to mobilize at the office. And that's what's got Lazaridis all fired up.
I can't help but wonder if RIM is aiming for the wrong target. As it touts figures such as "1 billion apps sold in App World," it's clear that the company has consumer growth on its mind -- even though its support is slowly eroding in the enterprise.
Instead of shipping 700,000 enterprise-perfect tablets, it shipped 700,000 not-good-enough not-iPads that lacked native e-mail and messaging.
Wireless carriers have rebuffed the company's overtures to sell PlayBooks in their stores, and for good reason: it won't hold a candle to the iPad, much less the Xoom, on store shelves.
But RIM should really be worried about selling through the channel. With a core enterprise audience, the PlayBook should be the most profitable tablet on the market -- but it's not, because RIM can't decide if it wants the PlayBook to be buttoned up or let its hair down.
It's true that consumerization of the marketplace has changed its dynamic, but distinct customers still exist and acute needs still require solutions. While RIM is busy upgrading its game engine, c-suite executives are busy using iPads to visually present information during meetings without hiccups.
The good news is that consumerization puts pressure on RIM to make the process easier for developers. That's a benefit no one can deny. But more developers and the right developers may not be the same thing.