All's fair in love and war. As a technologist and marketer, I have to keep up-to-date with all that is going on in the industry. I know from previous articles I've often been hard on BlackBerry - they've been an easy target and I can only go on what I'm finding and hearing.
Recently, BlackBerry has tried to relight their fire, revealing their new unified tablet/smartphone operating system - Blackberry BBX.
The new OS is a ‘single, unified platform for the whole world'; incorporating Enterprise, NOC and cloud services, and is the love child of BlackBerry OS and QNX following RIM's acquisition of QNX Software Systems last year.
At the launch president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis confirmed this by saying that "BBX combines the best of BlackBerry and the best of QNX to connect, people, content, and services." Not only this, but the new OS will feature a new graphical user interface thanks to RIM's other acquisition of The Astonishing Tribe (TAT).
BBX will also feature multi-tasking, and full support for email, synchronization and security (didn't they do this 10 years ago?).
If it's going to be a new system, then brilliant. This is exactly what RIM needs. What's more though, Android developers will be able to repackage their applications for BBX, to be sold through Blackberry App World.
One negative is that this requires additional work and means that developers will need to optimise for BBX. How about the existing Blackberry OS apps? In a bold move, these will not be supported and therefore dead on arrival. This therefore means that the BlackBerry faithful will need to reskill.
When's it coming? Here's the stinger - nobody knows, but it looks like it could be up to a year away. That is a whole year when the enterprise market has already been disillusioned by BlackBerry's problems and has upgrades to devices to do.
A whole year of development, heavy marketing and new devices by Apple, Google and Microsoft. A whole year of developers training up on alternative platforms. Unless RIM can produce an operating system so uniquely different from the competition that changes the game, they are in trouble.
No-one wants to see once great companies struggle in the market. Everyone likes to support the underdog, but we have to be realistic. HP webOS was innovative. It was a delight to look at and use, but it failed to attract the attention of consumers and enterprise.
Android is going from strength to strength, gaining more market share on a daily basis. Google has enough money in its bank to innovate at a scary rate. It's built into the company's DNA. Apple is winning the race for the enterprise. It has the walled security safety that IT managers need and looks great on boardroom tables.
Microsoft is not only going from strength to strength but also knows what enterprise wants and how to sell to them. Next year it will have Windows 8 for tablets and PCs, and this, along with Windows Phone, will eat the remainder of the Apple/Google pie.