RIM discusses first BBX phones, hopes someone's listening

After a year of PR disasters, weak product launches, a collapse in market share and a dramatic decline in its share price, RIM desperately needs some good news to kick-start its recovery. It’s no secret that the company’s future is engrained in its ability to transition its product line to its new BBX operating system, and RIM has now shared a few details about its first BBX-powered smartphones.

Alec Saunders, RIM’s VP for Developer Relations, confirmed to PCMag that there would be one standard screen resolution (1024x600px), with a 16:9 widescreen ratio, for the first BBX phones. That’s an unusual resolution for phone handsets, but it’s no coincidence that it matches that of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, launched earlier this year.

Saunders explained: “If you build [an app] for the PlayBook, then it will run on BBX”, implying a smoother and simpler software development process across RIM devices. Creating powerful apps that can take advantage of advances in the new OS will be essential to ensure its long term success and streamlining the development process will only improve RIM’s chances here.

More importantly, though, this also means that apps that already run on the PlayBook today will run on the first BBX devices with no compatibility issues, so those handsets will have access to an existing library of apps from day one.

However, RIM will face challenges in attracting developers to the platform. Google this week confirmed that it will abandon development of its Gmail app for BlackBerry; the fact that such a prominent player is withdrawing from its platform betrays an underlying absence of confidence in BlackBerry’s long-term prospects, and that will only make it harder to encourage existing and new developers to create software for BBX.

Saunders also confirmed that BBX would include the key features already promised for the PlayBook 2.0 OS, including native email support and BES push services. One would hope that BBX will also include BlackBerry Messenger, even though RIM confirmed that, in addition to delaying PlayBook 2.0 by several months, it has had to abandon plans to bring BBM to the PlayBook in that update.  

In fact, that delay is symptomatic of the problem that RIM faces: this may all be too little too late. RIM promised to deliver features like native email and BBM to the PlayBook this summer, but these won’t actually arrive until February 2012. Meanwhile, the first BBX device isn’t expected to launch until the second quarter of 2012 at the earliest, and by that time, Apple, Google and Microsoft will be preparing to launch their next generation of mobile devices, leaving RIM – once again – at least a generation behind everyone else.

Last week, RIM’s share price fell below book value, effectively confirming that its investors and the market as a whole no longer have any confidence in its prospects for the future. Since then, its share price has only continued falling.

RIM can talk all it likes about what it’s got planned for BBX, but its shareholders, customers and developers are evidently bored of its words and broken promises. Sadly, time is running out for RIM. The end may well arrive before it can launch the products that it believes, perhaps misguidedly, to be the key to its salvation.  

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13 Comments

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RIM is struggling, but I think there's a lot they can still do and prove once they get their act together - they need to be given a chance before being shot down.

MistaT40 said,
RIM is struggling, but I think there's a lot they can still do and prove once they get their act together - they need to be given a chance before being shot down.

A chance? They had their chance: Playbook...without an email client? FAILED. New BB devices built on old technology and design? FAILED. Take the latest Bold Devices: While everyone is bringing touchscreen only devices they stuck with the old physical keyboard and tried to stick a touch screen on the phone at the same time. Who exactly wants such a tiny touch screen? They could have left that out and save some tech spend, especially since it didn't do them any good.

I don't doubt that they have stuff going for them. Their security and exchange support is excellent. Maybe someone should buy them out and put those technologies to good use...RIM certainly isn't.

Edited by charlie6x, Nov 12 2011, 1:57pm :

I do think that rim needs to go....its outdated and not fit for 21st century. That or they need to release something cool which will save them..which i doubt will happen.

qdave said,
I do think that rim needs to go....its outdated and not fit for 21st century. That or they need to release something cool which will save them..which i doubt will happen.

They don't need to go anywhere. They just need to bring themselves up to the level of the competition. They've had setbacks because they rested on their laurels, while the competition came up from behind and showed them how it's done.

RIM could very easily turn things around, as proved by Nokia's recent form with the Lumia and the N9.

But the question is does RIM has some hidden product, because if it will come out few years from now it might be too late.

sexypepperoni said,
RIM is dead, they have yet to accept it.

RIM is not dead. They are on life support. And since Canada offers free health care, they will milk it.

UndergroundWire said,

RIM is not dead. They are on life support. And since Canada offers free health care, they will milk it.

That was quite funny

UndergroundWire said,

RIM is not dead. They are on life support. And since Canada offers free health care, they will milk it.

That was gold lol