I just recently started using Tungle.me. Three calendars was too much for my ADD-addled brain to handle and the idea of people being able to simply schedule meetings with me based on my free/busy time across all calendars was too good to pass up. I was more than a little surprised then to receive an email this morning from Tungle.me explaining that they'd been acquired by RIM.
That's right. Research in Motion. You know, the BlackBerry people. Those little things you couldn't live without before you got an iPhone. Remember them?
Tungle.me is actually a perfect acquisition for RIM. Blackberries were (and remain) good for 2 things: messaging and calendaring. Whether organizations are using BlackBerry Enterprise Server or just grabbing mail from Exchange, IMAP, and POP accounts and synchronizing with Outlook, BlackBerries do these 2 things very well. But here in 2011, it's all about the social, right?
Why should someone have to call your secretary, who will then schedule a meeting in your Exchange account, which will then appear on your BlackBerry calendar? That meeting, unbeknownst to your secretary, will probably conflict with an early romantic dinner that you're having with your significant other to make up for the anniversary you forgot last week. You were sure to put the dinner date in your personal calendar, but can't have that sort of thing sitting on the corporate Exchange server.
If that meeting-seeker had simply checked your Tungle.me account, they would have seen that you were busy tonight at 5:00. Not that you were having dinner with Sweetie-Schnookums, but just that you were busy. They would have found a time when you weren't, your secretary could be playing solitaire, and you would be at dinner.
If RIM's core competencies are messaging and calendaring, then they should obviously be leveraging a powerful, social service to integrate all of our many calendars.
The problem, though, is that it's too little, too late. RIM should have not only been doing this 2 years ago, but they should also have been doing with compelling devices and branding themselves as your work-life manager. One calendar to rule them all. The marketing campaigns could have been brilliant, BlackBerries could have been the only device you'd ever need, and Google and Microsoft would have had a third competitor driving them to make their respective calendars not only brilliant but open and social.
Instead, RIM is losing market share faster than I'm losing hair, it's Playbook is an also-ran in the tablet game, and a really cool online calendar application is now facing a very uncertain future.
Maybe RIM will surprise me and use this to drive widespread compatibility and utilization. According to Tungle.me's blog entry on the acquisition,
This is exciting for you too as we expect the Tungle service to only get better. Our plan today is what it has always been – for Tungle to become integrated with your daily activities and be ubiquitous within the applications you’re already using. When you think scheduling, Tungle should be at your fingertips....Our objective is to keep innovation at the forefront – to be rebels in our own way. Think, Create, Innovate.
Innovation is not something that RIM has really been able to muster for the last couple of years. The best thing about me wrapping up my last contract before jumping back into full-time employment was being able to send back the bloody BlackBerry Curve that my employers made me use. It was a throwback to the dark ages. And it was brand new, running BlackBerry's latest OS.
I hope I'm wrong. There's room for more competition than the iOS/Android duopoly that's emerging and Tungle.me is a great service that I'm growing to love. I'd be a lot more hopeful, though, if Apple had acquired the company to replace their miserable calendar applications. I might even think about an iPhone. This certainly isn't going to inspire me to buy a BlackBerry or a Playbook. Here's hoping that this is a first step in a larger recovery and rebranding effort for the former king of the smartphone.