Robert Scoble’s Latest Post Hints RIM Can Win Over Silicon Valley


Like him or dislike him, Scoble gets a lot of attention in the Valley and as a startup, winning his attention is a big deal. RIM is at CES 2013 and while it’s not showing off devices in a huge pavilion like previous years, it did take the time to get Scoble a BlackBerry 10 device. His latest facebook post says,”Today I saw the new Blackberry 10 that will be announced in a few weeks. I liked it a lot but it won’t get any Apple or Android fan hot and bothered.” While the statement is wrapped in pessimism, there’s something very telling about it. Consider how much it takes to change the mind of someone like Scoble who has invested so much emotionally in saying RIM is dead. His statement, while not 100% positive, is coming from someone who very recently told Alec Saunders to give up and go Android. This is a huge change.

Scoble loves BlackBerry
Photo credit Shawn Collins

All of this started when Scoble went around in 2011 saying RIM is going to die from lack of developer support.

Scoble: RIM in Death Spiral. In this Fox Business video, Scoble talks about RIM’s lack of apps and its inevitable death.

RIM got him to get on a call with Alec Saunders to likely talk about how they’re going to rally developers and change attitudes.

Here is the lead up to Scoble’s call with Alec Saunders:

Wish me well, RIM is calling in half an hour

Research in Motion, you know, the folks that make the Blackberry, aren’t too happy with me. Why not? Because I keep pointing out to them that developers have deserted its platform. In the past week I’ve visited 25 startups (which explains why I haven’t been so active on Google+ or Twitter lately) and only a couple of them have supported Blackberry in any way (and even those two admit that Android and iOS are way better choices for most developers).

I just don’t see how RIM turns around this lack of developer support and, to me, that dooms them to falling market share, falling profits, and many many deep problems that most of us call “a death spiral” for a company.

Now, we’ve seen that companies can pull out. Apple, back in 1997, was in much the same spot, except Apple didn’t face two strong competitors who were battling each other.

Most of these developers say it’s a no brainer to build apps for iOS first, then Android. Some say the other way around. But when you ask them “what else?” then the answers are a lot less strong. MIcrosoft is even struggling to get developer support, with about 2% marketshare against Android and iOS. But Microsoft is in a stronger position than RIM is.

I just don’t see how most of the world’s “pro” development shops (I.E. the ones that are venture backed) will support more than Android and iOS. They just don’t have the resources to do that. And if they did I don’t see why they would support four OS’s. That just doesn’t seem to be a smart business decision.

So, what’s my advice for RIM? Punt and go with Android. It’ll be interesting to see what they say about that advice and whether or not they let me discuss their answers in public.

So, if you are a RIM fan, tell me why RIM has a future, even without developer support?

And don’t answer that they have great marketshare in some weird market like Africa or Brazil. That’s true, but only because they are giving away SMS and data plans for near nothing. That won’t save them because it’s like having a chicken without a head. It will run around the yard for a while and look “alive.” But it still has no head and eventually Android figures out how to match the pricing in those markets too and then the chicken stops running around the yard.

After his call with Alec and Scoble’s post, Eric of Ebscer, a prominent BlackBerry developer, wrote up a great post detailing why RIM and Silicon Valley may never work.

“So as long as Saunders and Scoble are talking about two different things it is unlikely that they are going to see eye to eye on the issue. So maybe RIM is not that relevant in the nonsense of Silicon Valley venture capital games. Who cares? For the most part these venture backed companies do not matter in the larger world at all. It would be (in all honesty) a waste of time for RIM to care what these “companies” think.”

Now after all of this, Scoble seems to be changing his tune. To say “I liked it a lot” without mentioning the lack of developer support or “death spiral” in the same breath is pretty impressive. More and more it looks like BlackBerry 10 is coming along nicely.

  • Rocco

    “So, if you
    are a RIM fan, tell me why RIM has a future, even without developer

    I think the mobile revolution (in many ways) can be compared to the internet
    revolution. The early days of the internet have seen defacto and definitive web
    sites and attitudes evolve and refine themselves as technology and human
    adoption advance. In other words, never say never about anything to do with the
    technology arena - I certainly do understand your position and attitude with
    the current state of RIM, however, you appear to be looking forward by looking
    backwards. i.e. basing the future (of RIM) on the past mobile landscape.

    I’ve often likened the overhyped ‘app’ media focus with the early 90′s CDROM
    obsession… remember the days where anything in a nice fancy box that
    contained CD’s would sell off th shelf? Well, I can tell you first hand - I’ve
    purchased a whole whack of those (misleading) CDROM Applications in the 90′s
    and I’ve done the same with the (overhyped) mobile Apps in the (late) 2000′s.
    The one thing I’ve found which is dramatically different is the price.
    Pointless $25-50 spent in the 90′s vs $1-5 in the (late) 2000′s… The analogy
    continues with CDROMs changing into DVDROMs back then and today the Mobile
    ‘Apps’ will change into HTML5 apps. We see this already starting to make waves
    and generate excitement in the developer community - but more importantly, the
    entire landscape is changing… increasing numbers of consumer products are/and
    will become web-enabled and that means they will be able to run HTML5 apps.

    The traditional approach to enabling content and providing distraction through
    platform specific apps will (start to) die in 2013 and more and more developers
    will focus on a common development platform – HTML5.

    RIM is committed
    to providing a great HTML5 experience, this is why I believe RIM has a future.
    BTW - are you going to speak about your hands on BB10 experience soon? :)

  • coolheat

    People who haven’t tried the new BB10 PLATFORM just don’t understand. If you had the opportunity to try it, you would be amazed by this phone and what it is capable of doing.