Recently, analysts from all over the Internet have been saying that RIM is dead in the water and it’s only a matter of time until they become like Palm. It’s hard to not believe them too. Sure, RIM does have 40 million or so subscribers but much of their growth is coming from the consumer market, which they’re losing ground to Android and iPhone. The latest attempts to address the fierce competition for consumers includes the BlackBerry Torch, of which analysts claim sales weren’t great, and BlackBerry 6, which even RIM modestly called “not an evolutionary leap”. But does all of this really mean RIM is dead? I recently read a great article from Alec Saunders’ blog, addressing this issue and it’s an article many of these analysts would do well reading. The Secret Weapon that RIM is working on, which could be the equivalent of a giant Death Star of doom for Apple and Google, is the QNX acquisition.
The QNX acquisition has been long thought to be focused on an automotive venture for RIM. In actuality, RIM acquired this company to work on their OS and they could be the ones designing OS 7. The QNX OS is an incredibly versatile platform that runs everything from high speed trains to the laser camera system powering a space shuttle. Alec sums up the benefits of the QNX OS nicely here:
For those who don’t know QNX, it’s a micro-kernel based operating system with a sophisticated graphical user interface, a modern POSIX-based tool-chain, and a fully distributable architecture. In layman’s terms, that means it’s more stable than LINUX, runs in less memory than any of LINUX, OS X, or Windows – even the embedded versions, pretty to look at for users, and easy to develop software for using skills that are relatively common in the industry. Oh, and did I mention that it sports a touch screen UI, and a fully integrated flash development environment?
A shift to a better OS would have long term benefits for RIM but isn’t without it’s short term frustrations. Even with the shift to BlackBerry 6, developers face a headache when porting their applications and taking advantage of the new APIs. The shift to a QNX OS will likely cause the same problems in porting, and there could be a large initial dropoff of applications available. On the other hand, if the platform provides a simple way to develop and run apps, RIM could see their app marketplace grow exponentially. Considering it took them only around a year to get 10,000 apps in their marketplace with some of the worst developer tools imaginable, a new and easy way to develop for the BlackBerry OS could surpass that it in half the time. There is also the fact that many apps could run as a virtual machine on QNX, making the porting process much simpler.
Maybe now is the time to buy RIM stock. While all the analysts are downgrading RIM’s stock, they seem to be leaving out some pretty big technology expectations.