Walt Mossberg sat down with RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis to talk BlackBerry. The interview was presented on D7 by All Thing Digital.
The interview started off with a fundamental question about RIM’s shift to the consumer space. According to Mike, RIM was pushed into the space from demand. Consumers were asking for the functionality of BlackBerry and it just made sense for them to enter the consumer market.
One of the issues Mike Lazaridis touches on, the “big white elephant in the room,” is network capacity. Mike believes we need to overcome some issues of network capacity in order for the full potential of these devices to be reached. “Voice usage doesn’t scale exponentially,” Lazaridis says. “But data usage does….If we don’t get ahead of this problem and make things scalable and ensure that applications aren’t so data intensive,” we’re in trouble apparently. The industry needs to come together to resolve these issues before we’ve gone too far. Remember, voice and data often share the same bandwidth, and they’ll both suffer as data usage increases. He says RIM works very closely with AT&T (T) to optimize its radio code and its network so that everyone benefits. That said, “it may be a mistake to assume that you’re going to get the wired broadband experience in a wireless environment.
Something I’ve been discussing with companies in the BlackBerry space that Walt touched on is security from a developers standpoint. The fact that RIM started as a company for enterprise and is shifting to consumer, provides them with a competitive advantage. The robust security features of BlackBerry came from an enterprise need and they’re only beneficial to the consumer. “We believe that over time, consumers will start to value the BlackBerry’s security accreditations.” RIM’s devices apparently have the largest number of these in the industry. And that should make consumers confident in the company’s devices. RIM has done its best to make it platform secure and scalable and that has served the company well as it caters to its core base in enterprise. Lazaridis seems to be saying that RIM’s position in the enterprise is so strong that he’s not worried about Apple (AAPL) or Microsoft (MSFT).
Walt uses the interview with Mike as an opportunity to take a jab at the BlackBerry Storm. Yes, the Storm could have been better in that it was a first build and there are several improvements that could have been made. On the other hand, RIM knows the smartphone space better than Apple and you can be assured that the Storm 2 will be a better typing and user experience. When Walt asks if the Storm’s SurePress screen is here to stay, Lazaridis says it is. He didn’t comment on rumors that it will figure prominently in RIM’s next device