2011 was a grim year for RIM. Its OS 7 smartphones seem like retreads compared to the competition. Shiny retreads, but retreads nevertheless. Indeed, after initial good results, sales of the OS 7 smartphones already are slowing down. RIM’s tablet, the PlayBook, is hampered by lack of basic functionality (e.g, setting up email accounts) which won’t be resolved until OS 2.0 in February 2012.
2012 should be a better year. It better be. On the tablet front, the aforementioned release of OS 2.0 in February 2012 should (hopefully) put the PlayBook on a better footing. But RIM’s mainstay is the smartphone, not the tablet. What about smartphones?
OS 7 is an evolutionary dead end. The 2012 crop of smartphones will have a completely different OS:
BBX BlackBerry 10. Basically, BBX BlackBerry 10 is a the new marketing term for the QNX OS in the PlayBook. The prior marketing term, BBX, turns out to be legally unavailable because another company (BASIS International) already had a trademark on the BBX name. [Edits on 12/7/2011]
I have the PlayBook, and its QNX OS has a lot of promise, notwithstanding the crippled OS 1.0. I really don’t care whether they call the OS QNX, BBX, BB 10 or Godzilla. I want version 2.0 NOW!!!
That rant aside, 2012 BBX BlackBerry Roadmap Preview gives the details for anticipated 2012 BBX smartphones. It also mentions a 10” PlayBook sibling. But the stars of this show will be the smartphones.
RIM currently is between the proverbial rock and hard place. Move too slow, the market passes it by, as has happened on the smartphone front in the last few years. Move too fast and release a half-baked product, like the PlayBook, and customers lose confidence and go elsewhere.
CES in early January should provide a better clue on RIM’s 2012 roadmap. I’m rooting for RIM; competition is good. But we’ll see.