Research In Motion (RIM) was on a roll when BlackBerry (BB) held its sway in consumer and enterprise segments. People coined the term “crackberry” for its strong adherents. However, consumer market was shaken up with Apple’s iPhone. Backed by brilliant marketing, engineered shortages and stunted product (so that subsequent models could be sold as improvements), it captured the imagination of masses. It was revolutionary in concept because it featured touch interface with its own app store that supplemented its core feature set. The fawning media set the bar higher for other claimants in the space.
RIM suffered loss of market share to Android, primarily in North America, where its epitaph was nearly set in stone. Interestingly, they grew in terms of subscriber numbers rest of world. RIM, at one time, considered switching to Android, but developed its own operating system from ground up as a differentiator. With its war chest, RIM acquired, UNIX like operating system (OS), QNX which has proved its worth as an embeddable, resilient and highly scalable kernel. It is currently deployed in mission critical systems like medical devices, high speed trains, semiconductor manufacturing, nuclear power plants and automobiles where fail safe components are essential.
Why RIM matters now? BlackBerry smartphone is likely to be proverbial dark horse in RIM’s ecosystem. Once you realise the beauty of underlying OS, you can appreciate RIM’s recent spate of acquisitions in human computer user interface (Astonishing Tribe), calendar/memo applications (Tungle.me) and video/picture editing (JayCut). With QNX as core, for example, medical systems, which need to be fault resistant,
secure and comply with strictest standards of patient privacy, can easily be integrated with existing BlackBerry platform playing on its inherent strength of encryption standards.
Although PlayBook was a limited commercial success (covered in these columns earlier), it was a harbinger of future; a product that features an extensive set of user interface enhancements, tight integration with mail, calendar and memo applications and NSA endorsed elliptic cryptography unmatched by any competing product in its category. Not surprisingly, BB10 is the only smartphone in existence that has achieved Federal Information Processing Standard (Level 2) certification, a