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Tech Predictions for 2012 - #1
O.K., so I thought I should take a moment and make a few predictions for 2012. Since I don't have time to write these all up in one batch, I'll do them as a series of posts. Here's the first one...
1. RIM Will Get Acquired
Let's face it, RIM is swirling around the drain. They had a DISASTROUS 2011. How disastrous? The guys at Borders are saying "Wow, you guys are in trouble." Not a real shocker if you look at it objectively.
- Blackberrys are preferred by companies and IT departments; but increasingly it's end users selecting their portable devices and end users usually want iPhones and Android devices.
- Blackberry Enterprise Server is a pain in the rear to administer and companies running Exchange Server (which is most of them) have realized that most of the other smartphones on the market will integrate natively with Exchange ActiveSync. Cleaner, simpler, more reliable (though less secure - we'll hit that in a moment)
- The Blackberry Playbook is a business-oriented tablet that doesn't (natively) do what business users on the go MOST want to do: e-mail. In order to get e-mail on your Playbook you have to have a Blackberry phone. So basically they've limited their potential sales to companies that already have Blackberrys deployed and they were never going to get 100% of those. Releasing the Playbook without e-mail was either naivete or arrogance - and I suspect it was the latter. Watching their marketshare on smartphones plummet they released a tablet that required their smartphone in order to get e-mail...expecting that users would gladly buy BOTH devices because...hey...they're Blackberry! They made their fortune on mobile messaging.
- Well, hey at least Blackberry Messenger runs natively on the Playbook right? Umm....
- At $499 it was playing in the iPad's sandbox and the iPad just ate its lunch in almost every respect. Why would you choose a Playbook over an iPad - especially if you weren't already a Blackberry user?
O.K., so they've got issues. Nothing a few software fixes and new devices won't remedy, right? Well...except now they're saying that it may be late 2012 before those devices show up! And a software update for the Playbook that gives it native e-mail should be easy enough right? Well...I guess it's not.
So...what next for RIM? Well, they could just flop around until they run out of money and close the doors, but I suspect that before that happens somebody will step in and acquire them.
For all of their troubles RIM *DOES* have some technologies that are appealing. Blackberry Messenger is a rare success for them and Blackberry devices do generally rank as among the most secure and reliable (their sometimes dodgy network not withstanding). So I could see one of the other players in the mobile market acquiring RIM in part to get their patents (more ammo in the increasingly disgusting patent wars) but moreso to get their technologies. To incorporate Blackberry Messenger in their own devices or use some of their messaging technology to improve the security and reliability of their own platforms.
RIM undoubtedly does still have some talent in the ranks that other mobile device makers would love to have on board. They'll become free agents if RIM folds, but you can secure them (as much as anybody can) if you just acquire the company.
Well, Microsoft is one possibility. They're enterprise focused already and could use some help getting Windows Phone out there. Adding Blackberry Messenger to their devices could give them a boost.
Google is always a possibility. They acquire companies at an alarming rate and the Blackberry patents might help them better protect Android.
My dark horse candidate, though, is Apple. They really could use some enterprise sauce to enhance their consumer-oriented products and maybe some of the Blackberry technology would help them get in the door with corporate IT departments that are still not very comfortable with the way the iToys handle security and compliance. Apple is sitting on a ton of cash so they can certainly afford it.
Maybe they'll get swallowed whole or maybe just picked over for their best parts but I predict that RIM will be owned by somebody else and won't exist as we currently know it when the sun rises on 2013.