QNX OS: RIM’s Hail Mary?
The news on upcoming BlackBerry hardware isn’t encouraging. Earlier this month, we saw leaked images (from BGR) of the first QNX phone, dubbed the BlackBerry Colt. Acccording to rumor, the Colt will arrive in the first quarter of 2012, and it reportedly will ship with a single-core CPU. If so, a full year after the first Android dual-core phones appeared, BlackBerry still won’t have a dual-core handset. And like the PlayBook, the Colt may launch without support for BlackBerry's Enterprise Server. If that rumor proves to be true, you’ll have to use Microsoft's ActiveSync in order to use Exchange email. Considering that the BlackBerry Enterprise Server has a pretty large corporate customer base, I have to ask: Why would RIM shut out its own customers from its latest product again? Will RIM repeat the mistake it made with the PlayBook and rush a half-baked, unfinished product to market?
Perhaps the most disturbing news I've seen recently is that RIM just this week released the beta of the native SDK for QNX tablet apps to developers. Yes, that’s four months after it released the BlackBerry PlayBook. Even worse, the SDK is a closed beta, and RIM warns that "interested developers should apply to the beta quickly as space is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis." This approach isn’t exactly welcoming toward the developer community, is it? A lack of apps is one of the big reasons why BlackBerry OS is struggling in the mobile phone space, so why is RIM making the same mistakes with QNX? RIM should have made the beta open--or at least not put up a message discouraging interested developers from applying.
Learning From Others' Mistakes
RIM can learn from the mistakes that Palm and then HP made with WebOS. A poor marketing strategy, lack of apps, and dated hardware were the main reasons WebOS failed in the marketplace. And like WebOS, BlackBerry OS is a good operating system. BlackBerry’s enterprise offerings remain unmatched, and nobody builds as good a physical hardware keyboard as RIM. But RIM needs to be building features, hardware, and software that can compete with its rivals two years from now--not trying to make up ground on phones that have already come out.
RIM’s OS makeover needs to be perfect in order to succeed. Remember the disastrous BlackBerry Storm? RIM definitely doesn't want to go through that kind of debacle again. Apparently RIM has tried to play it safe after that fiasco, but I think it's time to take another risk. BlackBerry 7 OS barely keeps RIM afloat--and sadly, QNX and the upcoming BlackBerry phones don’t look too promising either.