BlackBerry Dev Alpha device and BB World demos show RIM isn't out of the game yet

BlackBerry Dev Alpha device and BB World demos show RIM isn't out of the game yet

Summary: RIM needs to do something soon and if we see them launch BB OS 10 this year with hardware similar to the Dev Alpha device then I think they are still in the game and may even take the third spot behind iOS and Android.


Back in March, RIM announced their offer to developers attending the BlackBerry 10 Jam and with BlackBerry World kicking off today we get our first glimpse of a pretty amazing device over at We saw some leaks of the BlackBerry London device in January and after seeing this developer device I have to say RIM may not yet be out of the smartphone game.

Windows Phone is a great OS, but consumers still don't seem to be picking them up in large numbers so the third platform after iOS and Android is still up for grabs. RIM's share has been going down lately and something must be done by the end of the year for them to stay relevant. I am very impressed with what I have seen so far from BlackBerry World and if RIM can actually deliver BB OS 10 and hardware before the end of the year then the smartphone market will continue to be dynamic and exciting.

The new BB OS 10 keyboard and camera functionality look amazing. The ability to take a photo and then have the software go back in time to when the person had a smile or open eyes and then use this in the capture image is slick.

Topics: Security, Mobility, BlackBerry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Having lived through the period where "Apple is dead or dying"

    I'm soooo very tired of this same thing being said about RIM. Not a RIM fan I was never found of their devices at least to date but still as Apple showed to pronounce a company dead is rather foolish as long as they keep trying to change things.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Sometimes conventional wisdom is correct.

      Yes, Apple was prematurely pronounced dead many, many times, but for a minute there in 1997 it would have been true if Steve Jobs hadn't returned. RIM is very much in the same position as Apple circa-1995, but they're in much deeper trouble because there isn't a Steve Jobs to come home and clean house. Although I bet Jim Balsillie and/or Mike Lazaridis harbor fantasies of doing so after Thorsten fails to avoid the iceberg.
  • The real question is, is "the third spot" even viable.

    The iPhone is [b]The iPhone[/b], the King in regards to ASP, gross margin, and consumer satisfaction. Then there's Android; it's cheap, it's "anything but Apple", and it generates data for "The Algorithm", so Google will back it (until they come clean and release their own closed platform). The iPhone is sucking all the profit out of the market. What revenue is left is mostly take by Samsung leaving the barest of margins for the other Android handset OEMs (HTC is losing money, and LG has never made any). Microsoft, with it's deep-pockets, is pulling a me-too with it's semi-autonomous subsidiary Nokia, but they've got no chance anywhere except for the "developing world" where the Nokia brand still has some clout-and that's hardly a lucrative segment.

    So, we have RIM. Yes, they still have a decent amount of cash and no debt, but what else? They've become a laughing stock. Dev. relations are terrible. Drunk executives are being restrained by passengers on international flights. The last "winner" device was [b]so[/b] long ago that most of those rabidly dedicated physical keyboard loving fans discovered that a virtual KB is a small price to pay for cool apps and Angry Birds. Finally, corporate mail admins realized that their lives were a little better, and not much less secure, [i]without[/i] BES.

    Where's the upside? Yes, the new device show some promise, but you're looking at [i]alphas[/i], and let's not forget that "new iPhone" will surely arrive this fall with whatever iOS 6 brings. Google I/O in June will likely give us views of Jellybean (but most handsets won't run it for years, if ever). Finally, and most importantly, RIMs biggest hurdle will be the fight for carrier subsidies. Carriers have a love/hate relation with the iPhone; they pay Apple through the nose for it, but it brings in lucrative customers. Android is a cheap alternative that they don't have to support, so the Carriers love it, even if it attracts a more cost-conscious subscriber (but hey, at least they're light network users). And now Windows phone is looking like a nice little wedge as long as Micro-Kia is willing to throw money at anyone who'll take handsets.

    RIM's recovery will need to come on the back of a high-demand, high-margin device, but Apple already owns that segment. If they try to go down-market and "make it up on volume" they're going to find that Android already owns [i]that[/i] market. If they try to use a billion or so to buy [back] market share they're going to find that Microsoft is already financing Nokia to do [i]that[/i]. Which leaves Thorsten, or Balsillie/Lazardis, to pull a different rabbit out of their hat. Which will be a very good trick, and frankly I just don't think any of them have it in them.
    • I could see RIM bouncing back

      That would give the majority of users a "third option", as currently there are only really two other options. You will find there are some people that are fiercely loyal to RIM, and for good reason. Love them, or hate them, Blackberries have earned the loyalty of many users. I hope RIM bounces back and become that strong third competitor, as there is currently no strong third competitor. Before you say it, Microsoft is not, and has never been a strong competitor. Microsoft relies on "leveraging monopoly products", which is the opposite of competing.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Many things are possible.

        But RIM faces many unpleasant realities. Those [i]"people that are fiercely loyal to RIM"[/i] are becoming fewer and fewer, especially as more and more enterprises are offering, or issuing, iPhones to employees. And I'd disagree with the idea that [i]"there is currently no strong third competitor."[/i] That competitor is Microsoft, not the company, but their checkbook. I'll agree that their greatest strength has been [i]"leveraging monopoly products"[/i], Microsoft is very adept at the liberal application of enormous amounts of money to achieve a goal. I don't think RIM has that skill or that their device development abilities can overcome it.
    • It's BES+1

      Being a mobility professional and sitting here at Blackberry World you are wrong. Every company on the planet is looking for something to augment BES. Is it Fusion or one of the other 50+ MDM platforms? Make no mistake there are very few comapanies going to no management routue.

      And no Exchange ActiveSync is not a MDM or really much of a management solution. It is also not free. Exchange has CAL too and for the meat you need the enterprise CAL plus SCOM (which only works with legacy Windows Mobile and TBD iOS).

      The high margin era is going to end, carriers can't stand Apple it's like sleeping with a guy who beats you. Didn't you see sleeping with the enemy?
      • The carriers know on which side their bread is butterred.

        iPhone users are the lowest churn subscribers on both AT&T and Verizon. Carriers hate churn [b]even more[/b] than high device subsidies. As long as the iPhone keeps bringing in high-value (i.e. low-churn) subscribers, the carriers will swallow their pride and do whatever Apple wants.

        As for the idea that the [i]"high margin era is going to end"[/i], I'll take that bet. In fact, I already have-I've increased my long position on AAPL. After MOT and NOK quarterly results, it's pretty clear that Apple is the only company that knows how to make money in the handset business.
      • things change

        apple cannot command this high margin for very long.
    • Execution has improved considerably...

      ...since Heins took over. RIM hasn't missed a release target in months (unlike the disastrous last two years). QNX and TAT were both great strategic buys, and the interface for BB10 is proof. RIM is unveiling plans to leverage its Newbay acquisition to create its OWN cloud for users

      It's possible that this is all coming too late (trying to rush the Playbook to market head to head with the iPad 2 may yet prove to be RIM's undoing), but there are still many good people there. I'm (still) a believer.
      • That's hardly difficult.

        Improving over the Lazaridis/Balsillie clown show isn't a trial. Let's see RIM stop hemorrhaging market share before we start giving Thorsten some credit.
    • things change

      things changed for apple before they were bankrupt once. now the tide can again turn. nothing remains constant in tech world.
    • How about...

      70 million users worldwide? (2011 figure)
  • !!!!!!!
  • Too late. Mobile devs have zero interest in BB anymore. And those "loyal"

    BB lovers, no they aren't there to get back. They have moved on and have no desire to return. Only a subset of their currently remaining customers are really in that category. Look for them to continue losing market share and market cap up to and beyond the release of their next gen products. They are not austin powers, they can not get their mojo back.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Not true.

      RIM's biggest and most important challenge has been to combat its reputation as being developer-hostile.

      They've improved the tools considerably, and they're all free. They're literally throwing money at devs, promising that any apps that pass a certification process will earn $10,000 in sales the first year, or they'll make up the difference.

      Efforts to woo Android devs (who can easily either port apps over or simply recompile) seem to be paying off, with big numbers for both new apps and new devs. I've seen instances where developers are making more money on the Playbook platform than they are on Google Play for the identical application.
    • false

      developers are putting new apps like crazy on the playbook. within the year already it has grown many times.
      • Playbook

        Playbook is a big problem. RIM rolled out a device without a native email app, when email is what BB has been known for. With OS 2, it added a native email app that DOESN'T WORK RELIABLY. Ridiculous! They need to mend their fences there in order to keep their loyal customers--Playbook users are the core of RIM's loyal customer base, and many have been alienated by the poor Playbook OS and dearth of useful apps. Just my two cents.

        A loyal BB user
  • PlayBook and BB10

    The PlayBook was rushed to market, its quality compromised as a result, and yes, that was a big mistake. But OS2 more than fixed that, and I'm more than happy with the device. Making a mistake, while unfortunate, doesn't mean you necessarily have to lose the game. And learning from mistakes can be helpful as well. And so we hear the "we're going to get this right" stuff, which in my mind, is entirely appropriate. I'm not an investor, so I don't run around like a lemming every time RIM "misses" a target set by somebody else.

    It's more than apparent that they're making every effort to put the pieces together for a successful rebound. The goal isn't to knock Apple off its perch, because Apple and the market will do that independently. The goal is to recapture the imagination and confidence of business and consumers alike, regain a viable slice of market share, and to continue as an innovative and major player in the world in which they live.

    RIM has been too good of a contributor to this segment for too long for me to just cavalierly count them out. Their cash flow and debt-free status says something. Their strategic acquisitions say something. Where others see panic and ineptitude, I'm preferring to view as patience and a desire to "get it right".

    And I'm going to wait and see what they've got before I pass judgement. They've earned it over the many years they've provided the products they have. The PlayBook, once bad, is good. And the alpha BB10's are making me take a very positive interest in this product once again.