RIM and BlackBerry 10: Palm 2.0 or a real comeback?

RIM and BlackBerry 10: Palm 2.0 or a real comeback?

Summary: The drumbeat for BlackBerry 10 is getting louder. Whether RIM is merely Palm 2.0 or on the comeback trail remains to be seen. The reality is we're all guessing the outcome.


Research in Motion is pounding the BlackBerry 10 drum ahead of a late January launch of its potentially company saving devices. What's unclear is whether reality will clash with the early enthusiasm.


In the end we're all guessing about BlackBerry 10's success or failure. Frankly, it all boils down to whether you believe in RIM and whether a long-delayed BlackBerry 10 platform can generate consumer and corporate support.

Rest assured that most mobile players---tech buyers, carriers and everyone in the food chain---wants a viable No. 3 platform. No one wants an Android-Apple duopoly. That fear is why folks root for Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 to succeed. Carriers will push both if only to diversify.

But that doesn't mean folks will have Crackberry addictions all over again.

This small reality check comes ahead of RIM's earnings report on Thursday. Many analysts are writing the quarter off. Simply put, RIM's third quarter is going to stink. The company is expected to lose 35 cents a share on revenue of $2.66 billion in its fiscal third quarter. The fourth quarter doesn't look much better since RIM will only have a month of selling BlackBerry 10 devices under its belt.

More: Carriers interested in BlackBerry 10; will developers and consumers bite? | RIM opens BlackBerry 10 door for pre-release enterprise testing | RIM finalises BlackBerry 10 SDK ahead of launch | RIM launches readiness program ahead of BlackBerry 10 release | Expectations for RIM's performance called 'overly pessimistic' | RIM's future turns into analyst battleground | RIM preps enterprise roadshow, chafes at iPad Gartner prediction

All that matters for RIM right now is keeping subscribers and cash burn. The more cash on hand, the more RIM can market BlackBerry 10.

In March and beyond, we'll know if RIM is a keeper or just another replay of Palm. Remember Palm? That company had a great platform, took too long to get it out and then failed to get consumer support. HP bought it and Palm became an even bigger debacle.

RIM has enterprises testing BlackBerry 10 and carriers all around the world on deck.

But we're all guessing about the BlackBerry 10 fate. The analysts are almost comical at this point. To wit:

National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson said:

Check out RIM’s stock move vs. Apple over the past three months. RIM is entering a material product upgrade cycle. Apple seems to be exiting a strong iPhone cycle; the iPhone 5 is a big let-down vs. previous models. If RIM delivers with the BB10 the stock should move higher; otherwise it’s likely back to US$6.

That's a big "if."

Evercore Mark McKechnie said:

We remain cautious on the chances for a turnaround at RIM as the iOS and Android ecosystems accelerate and also begin to offer RIM-like capabilities through open Mobile Device Management (“MDM”) software platforms. We also expect a slow ramp of BBX as it will require the deployment of new BES 10 servers in the enterprise, versus competitive SAAS-type MDM offerings.

And Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum considers RIM to be Palm 2.0:

Shares continue to run as expectations build ahead of the BB10 launch, but we continue to see a low probability RIM becomes a viable third mobile OS. We nonetheless believe the stock remains strong into the launch, similar to Palm.

Bottom line: Your take on RIM largely depends on a leap of faith. Do I believe? I believe RIM has a large enough base to work with. The company can survive with a viable platform that will appeal to the installed base in developed markets and ultimately emerging ones too. I don't believe that RIM can ever get back to its glory days.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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
  • RIM nothing like Palm - analyst quotes are hilarious

    It's everyones guess what will happen. I can point out however that it's not a Palm redo. RIM has pulled all the stops in what is a major remodel the likes I haven't seen on other platforms. I'd also mention that corporate thinking and doing has changed dramatically without letting go of what has made Blackberry a niche product in the past.
    • Agreed

      I'm an admitted Android Boy. However, I don't think it's another Palm because:

      1. Even if RIM is loosing money, it has money to loose and doesn't need outside investors to keep it afloat.

      2. RIM is not as narrow-minded as Palm was. When devices were getting bigger, Palm insisted on a tiny screen with keys so small only a chipmunk could type on them

      3. RIM is seriously courting game developers. Game developers are probably the deciding factor in whether a platform will survive. The highest downloaded apps are games. Get the big, popular game houses on board and there's a shot. Android wasn't taken seriously until gamers validated it.

      4. RIM still has a huge following that Palm didn't. Step outside of North America (specifically Asia, Africa and parts of Europe) and you'll see that there is potential. Not to mention the legions of ex-Blackberry owners who would leave iPhone & Android given a serious effort from RIM.

      5. RIM is surprisingly agile. They see what the trends are and are attempting to address them. Playbook had a lukewarm reception (although it is an outstanding device). They see 10" tablets are also selling and are preparing to release of them also.

      I've listened to the YouTube sessions Blackberry sponsored featuring the team lead from The Astonishing Tribe, the CEO, other lead developers. I'm personally convinced RIM has a shot. Unlike Palm and even Microsoft, RIM has shed it's arrogant leadership and seems to have replaced it with someone with the guts to do what's needed, not just what's popular en vogue.

      And before anyone says it, I'm not on RIM's payroll.

      I am, though, one of those Android developers they bought by giving free Playbooks to those who ported apps over. They're VERY developer friendly - doesn't cost a DIME to become a developer or submit apps. That's makes them very attractive to indi devs and also what made Appl's App Store & Android Market blow up...Microsoft, are you listening?
      • Also agree

        On your point
        4. RIM still has a huge following that Palm didn't. Step outside of North America (specifically Asia, Africa and parts of Europe) and you'll see that there is potential. Not to mention the legions of ex-Blackberry owners who would leave iPhone & Android given a serious effort from RIM.
        I reckon this correct from my European standpoint.
        Also there are legions of corporate customers still using BB in one form or another and if this is a decent release it will be so easy for the IT team to bring it in using existing agreements. And I for one will look forward to a good battery life, keypad and handling of weak signal conditions. As good as my Curve I hope.
        • I'll second your second

          Yah.... my organization is one such that you mention. From the way things appear to be going, we'll still be using Blackberry 10 when it comes out.

          I'm up for an upgrade. My phone person told me to wait until after January to see what the company does with the Blackberry contract.
    • RIM Will not be like Palm

      I was a strong believer in Palm but they could not deliver as Palm was not interested in the market outside of the US, UK and Australia.

      There was a big following outside of these markets and the devices never arrived.

      If RIM is able to have Blackberry Jam in Asia it means that they are interested in this market and I believe this market will be able to support the rebounds of RIM. The North American and European markets are not as important as a decade or two ago anymore.
      Colin Chow
  • Insulse article

    A piece with direct comparisons on RIM and Palm situations; similarities and so on. Would've been a much better read.
  • RIM comeback

    just curious have you used BB10 yet?

    Palm comparison is growing old, it never had the user base that RIM has and Palm was losing money year after year.
    For RIM it will take some time to get users back on side, I see their market share inch upward and I expect RIM to ship in excess of 40 million phones in fiscal year 2014 (Mar2013-Feb 2014)
    • Market Share is next to meaningless. What I would like to see is

      RIM sales numbers "inch" up not their Market Share numbers. What I would also like to see is their profit per sale numbers increase steadily or at least some. Now those factors would actually mean something to me.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Market Share is only meaningless when talking Macs

        but everything when talking iPhones. (something the faithful pointed out) A larger market share means more income. Look at Macs for that - even with Apple's large profit margins on products, sales of Macs where barely enough to keep Apple afloat, given its tiny market share.

        Yet even with a smaller profit margins on iPhones, it was the market share (quantity) thats making Apple the money now.
        William Farrel
  • I would consider moving back to Blackberry, if OS 10 doesn't stink

    I loved my Bold 9650 until they upgraded the OS from 5 to 6 (or was it 4 to 5 ... I can't remember). Then it got slow, buggy and frustrating!

    I switched to Android, but then quickly again to iPhone, and I've been happy. But I do admit - I miss the physical keyboard of the BB.

    So I'm hoping that RIM can get it together and deliver a solid product ... I'd love to see BB re-enter the smartphone lineup.
    • For anyone moving towards or back to BB...

      I recommend reading the following article which I consider the best feature-by-feature analysis of the platform so far:
      BlackBerry 10: AWESOME. If the hardware matches it, RIM jobs are safe
  • What is killing bb

    I think, what is killing BB is the fact that you have to pay an extra monthly that most of the people cannot see the extra value in that. You can have pushing message in any other smartphone platform now without paying that BB tax.
    • Thats not true anymore, you dont pay extra for BB

      ... just a data plan like any other platform. Of course some might still charge extra but those should be a minority by now.
      • Still true on ATT and Verizon

        You have to pay the $30/month for the data plan, then another $10/month for Enterprise Email if you use it with BES. However that's no longer a requirement with BB10 since they FINALLY added support for ActiveSync. Don't get me wrong, BES provides some advantages. It just killed them because BES was required for proper Exchange support before, so either a company was behind supporting BB or it wasn't. Very rarely did the user have a say, unless some C-level execs wanted it.
    • your already paying it,

      if your have a iphone or android(smartphone) your already paying and extra fee, and i dont pay anything extra for my BB 9930 than anyone else, same price
      Ck Ck
  • Android need not be a single market...

    Honestly, I thought Android was an open-source platform that could be picked up by anyone and heavily developed upon as a stand-alone OS (with enough resources). The likes of RIM and Microsoft should take Android, and steer its development in their favour (with better security, better performance, integrate their services, etc), and there'll be no duopoly per se. Google's stock Android would be one among other Android-based OS.
  • OK...BB10 is coming. So...where are the devices?

    IDK...am I missing something? OK, RIM is polishing up the BB10 platform - that's great news, really. So....what are the BB devices that'll be using BB10?

    If RIM doesn't have smartphones capable of being compared to the iPhone 4S/5 or G-SIII or G-Note II, the BB10 platform might as well be vaporware from outer space. It would be crazy if the RIM software were to be licensed to device makers to develop their own handsets to get the new RIM OS going.

    Imagine a G-Note with BB10? That could be cool.
    • There are plenty out there

      Just do a search for "images blackberry 10"
    • RIM...$30 to $40 a share not far away!

      you're kidding right? Their are 2 devices coming out. they decided to stop messing around with having tons of different models and just focus on 2 models, the Z10 which is the full touchscreen Blackberry and then the Querty Version which i think is called the N10 not sure though what it is called. the Z10 is releasing January 28th with actual sales in march and then June is the querty version. Apps are a breeze to create on the new os so they will have 200,000 apps available by the time they release the bb10. ya big deal android or iphone has 700,000 but more than half of those apps are usless and most are just duplicates of the same version...lots with bad graphics and most of them have never been downloaded. my grandma can make a fan app and put it up on the iphone and android store!...that doesn't mean anything. Most people have 10 to 20 apps on their phone which they use daily like banking, weather news, some games etc.

      This phone is ridiculously awesome. HDMI and USB inputs/outputs. same screen size and Samsung Galaxy (yes bigger than the iphone) easy to drop and drag music, photos videos as your phone just acts as ausb drive like all previous Blackberry's, but now with BBVoice so you can talk to other blackberry users for free around the world as long as you have wireless internet. This phone has features that are so awesome they are just letting them out of the bag every week. This is a break through phone which will get back all the old blackberry customers.

      Now that the 2 bozos stepped down Rim is on the right path. they are streamlined, have a great product and well managed.

      Rim will get back a good amount of market share in terms of smartphone and tablets over the next few years and i believe they will stay in the game for a long long time!
  • It's Not Up To The Carriers, It's Up To The Customers

    Remember, it's the customers who are supposed to pay for all this. And frankly, I think proprietary platforms are just too expensive to keep going when they can be massively undercut by a an open-source one like Android.

    In short, it seems inevitable that BB10 will go the way of Windows Phone: if even Microsoft's massive marketing resources cannot persuade punters to buy into a proprietary platform, what chance does RIM have?

    The only realistic future competitor to Android will have to be another open-source one.