08.03.2011 09:24 AM

Is RIM heading to the dirt farm?

I’ve had a Berry since the very first one. I loved RIM’s products for years – but the company didn’t love me back.

In my opinion, pretty much everything coming out of RIM, now, is a disappointment. Their apps are a joke. Their OS are buggy. Their innovations aren’t innovative. They make dumb business decisions. They miss their own product deadlines.

I own an iPhone, and it gives me no problems. It does everything I want it to do, and then some.

There’s only one thing left that keeps me carrying a Blackberry, too.

The keyboard.

The iPhone’s on-screen keyboard is a disaster. It is only useable for a few words at a time, and then your head explodes.

The Blackberry keyboard, however, is still a marvel. It works. Their keyboard, in fact, is all that keeps the company from a trip to the dirt farm.

So that’s why I’m hoping the new Berrys – long, long delayed – continue to offer the best keyboard. If they don’t, I’m gone.

If they don’t, RIM will be gone, too, I think. And that would be a huge blow for innovation in this country.

What’s your take, O faithful readers?


  1. H Holmes says:

    Phones are interesting.

    It seems to me that no phone company last more than about 5 years as a leader as all of their technology gets ripped off.

    The thing that will keep blackberry around a little longer after the keyboard is ripped off is their secure email transfer.

    Apple is quickly being ousted by Android, and soon Android will be replaced.

    The good news for Apple is that they have one of the most loyal buyers, so even though their phone isn’t as functional as an Android phone costumer loyalty will keep people buying it, much like the IPAD.

    Non-buggy flash phones will kill the app market.

    That is where the trend will be.

    I don’t think blackberry will get there first but who knows.

  2. The Stig says:

    Apple isn’t getting ‘ousted’ by anyone and brand loyalty doesn’t mean squat in a world where Apple’s market has exploded by millions of people in the past two years. There isn’t a core group of Apple buyers sustaining them anymore, they’ve moved to the mass market with iOS. People keep buying Apple products because they offer the best balance of usability and featureset.

    As for ‘non-buggy’ Flash-enabled phones, keep dreaming. Flash is dead. Even Adobe knows it, which is why they just unveiled their new HTML5 authoring studio.

    RIM is also dead, unless they ditch the two chuckle-heads at the top and start focusing on products that consumers actually want to buy. No one cares that your email system uses the fewest kB per message, nor do they give a toss about BES email when ActiveSync is a ‘good-enough’ solution that covers iPhone and Android.

    And sorry Warren, but physical keyboards on phones aren’t long for this world. The key to the iPhone is to just keep typing and trust the autocorrect. I’m much faster on the virtual keyboard than I ever was on a Blackberry.

    • Dave Wells says:

      Use autocorrect eh? Not really.


      • The Stig says:

        I love that site and have felt that pain many times but the reality is that the auto-correct function on the iPhone works as advertised 99% of the time.

    • Pat says:

      On the plus side, you have an awesome name…

      • Philip says:

        Some say he knows only two facts about ducks and both of them are wrong.

        • Pat says:

          Some say he is a prototype of RIM’s next phone… all we know it that he is THE STIG!

          Is yours actually from an episode? I’ve seen them all, but I don’t have them memorized…

          • Philip says:

            Season 12 I think. Spoken by a funeral Mr. Clarkson looming over a stunning gunmetal Jaguar XKS.

            “Some say that he has no understanding of clouds, and that his ear wax tastes like Turkish delight… all we know is, he’s called the Stig.”

          • Pat says:

            That is my favourite show in the world… too bad another series has ended, and it won’t be coming back until sometime in the winter…

    • H Holmes says:

      Android is 50% of the market in 1 year.

      Apple has a core base of people that love their products.

      Apple will soon be relegated to the same place BIM in the phone market.
      However their core buyers will continue to love their products, which is their secret.

      Open phones, that use all of the devices power and multi-task will and are killing the dominance of the Iphone.

      • Philip says:

        So how do you explain those all those pesky new iPhone customers then? Your pet “core base” theory doesn’t really cover all those new customers.

        • Pat says:

          Apparently Android has overtaken Apple in the USA. By that I mean, the Android OS is more used than iOS. The iPhone is still the highest selling piece of hardware. While I don’t think that Android will kill the iPhone, I do think it will provide some much-needed competition to a company that has run wild over both the smartphone and tablet… Should mean better products for everyone…

          • Philip says:

            Exactly. It was my hope that RIM’s OS would be better and force Apple to innovate to keep it’s edge. Not so much now. The Android OS in general and Honeycomb 3.0 in particular are going to be Apple’s biggest competition.

  3. JStanton says:

    I just cancelled development of a mobile app for BB. We will instead develop for Android.

    Increasing (rather than decreasing) market share, accessibility for development – none of the barriers to development thrown up by Rim – and alignment with extant conventions, make this decision a no-brainer.

    I suspect that BB will increasingly become a niche product, by-passed by most users.


  4. Philippe says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Warren. Everyone who switches to the iPhone seem happy with the switch, yet they complain about the inferior keyboard. I’m an eternal optimist (I remember when apple were once dead in the water) so I think RIM can make a comeback because of their patented (I’m assuming it’s patented) keyboard. They can catch up on the browsing, apps, etc… but they’ll always have the keyboard advantage. They have a long long way to go ofc – but I think it’s too early to write them off. ALL of their marketing needs to be around the superior keyboard… they should market that to death – reality is that when on the road we sometimes need to write emails that are long and complex. That being said, I’ll stick with my iPhone for now.

  5. scanner says:

    If I wanted to invest in some tech and a bit of programming I could read your iPhone messages. RIM still offers the best security if you have a corporate setup through their server.
    I hope that the OS for the Blackberry and their pad will change soon – they bought QNX which is a very sophisticated unix-like OS. this would make writing Apps much easier, and if they opened the OS to everybody the Apps will come and fill the need.

  6. Dave says:

    “Non-buggy flash phones will kill the app market.”

    bahahahahahhahahahahahhahaha…. good luck with that.

    Even Adobe sees the writing on the wall for Flash… check out Edge.

    also “The good news for Apple is that they have one of the most loyal buyers, so even though their phone isn’t as functional as an Android phone costumer loyalty will keep people buying it, much like the IPAD.”

    I know I’m going to be accused of being a fanboy for this, but the reason the iPhone and iPad sell well is not simply because of blind loyalty. It’s because of exactly what Warren said above: “I own an iPhone, and it gives me no problems. It does everything I want it to do, and then some.”

    People pay for the Apple experience, because it works and it works well.

    Fact is, iPad may as well be the ONLY tablet on the market at this point – Apple is so far ahead in this sector, no other vendor has been able to answer the question “Why would I buy this instead of an iPad?” There has not been a single compelling competitor to market yet that has been able to answer that question and grab any significant market share, and Apple will be three generations into the game by this fall.

    As for RIM, it’s sad to see a great Canadian technology company – one that was so innovative in its early years – stagnate and stumble so badly. They were caught with their pants down when Apple came to their front door and forever changed the cellular industry. Their entry to the tablet market has been a complete flop, and their apps market is a disaster. They’re so far behind, it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly turn it around. I guess having two CEOs hasn’t quite work out for them – maybe they should add a third?

  7. Northbaytrapper says:

    I have an Iphone4 and hate it. The phone itself is terrible and I cannot multi-task with it. I cannot access the data on the stupid thing without cracking it. The only thing that pushes the iPhone is the apps which have become inane and stupid.

    Being able to chuck birds at buildings, quickdraw with friends, make whip noises or shoot terrorists does not make me or my staff more productive. Where the Blackberry increased employee efficiency, the iPhone and all the other smart phones in my opinion are killing business…unless you are in the smart phone business.

    I want my Motorola flip-phone back.

  8. Northbaytrapper says:

    btw….your site hurts my productivity as well Warren, but I’m willing to forgive you.

  9. Nuna D. Above says:

    Today’s Finanical Post has an article about how RIM is number one in China and in Canada still. Another recent article said Rim was huge in Asia. Likely to be around for a while.

  10. Enough Harper says:


    The new line of BBs aren’t even coming out with the QNX OS which they claim will help save the company. Their business practices have landed the company in a state of disrepair, made only worse by their complete failure to innovate and read the market. Their failures will be a major blow to Canada and Kitchner-Waterloo.

    As for other comments, Samsung has 32 smartphones. I believe HTC (a company not to be overlooked) also has 32. Apple has 2. Apple’s market share based on number of models available is astounding. The app store and stability of iOS will continue to set the iphone apart for probably another year to 18 months before some form of parity in overall functioning is achieved by google for Android.

    But that’s where the battle really is. Open vs closed, google vs apple. The tremendous success achieved by Apple is due almost entirely from it’s closed system, but tech parity along with common component manufacturers/suppliers means that the OS/Apps will be the key distinguishing factors for phones over the next X years (along with price). Emerging markets where people by a smartphone and use it as both their phone and primary computer/internet connection means Android will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. Apple will likely continue to see growth, but will be outpaced by google in a major way. But don’t be surprised if the number 1 selling phone continues to be the latest version of the Iphone. Tech and software, combined with ‘coolness’, means Apple has the ability to keep a hold on its top spot.

    • RN200 says:

      Don’t forget that Google owns the web, Apple not so much. When Google truly harnesses the power of their web dominance to Android OS Jobs will be standing on stage saying “wha’ppened?”

  11. Marc L says:

    It’s also the encryption Warren. That’s why the Blackberry is the norm in the business community.

  12. Paul says:


    Good post. I’ve been a RIM user for years for the keyboard. Ive tried other devices but hate typing on them. RIM has a shot at being around for a long time simply because US, Russia, Australia have only certified the Playbook. Security is a big deal. My prediction is that some Manulife (or other) employee has their data hacked, Corporate IT will become more militant. One other saving grace is that new devices will offer Android apps, so the user experience will be the same or better than any other device.

  13. Greg says:

    Short answer is no. I can’t wait for the Bold 9900. Since the Chinese have already developed Android spyware1 and Uncle Steve keeps track of everything you do2, I think I will stick with BB.


  14. Cynical says:

    Apple’s success is at least partially due to the way they bribe their carriers. By that I mean that (IMH0) IOS devices are optimized to use as MUCH bandwidth as possible, thereby guaranteeing lots of usage charges for the carriers. They’ve made cellphone bills in the hundreds of dollars per month almost acceptable. (No, I’m not saying that’s an average, but I know lots of people who’ve run up those charges without complaint.)

    At least one of RIM’s “faults” is that their system has always been designed to use very little data to get what you need. For the carriers, this is now a disadvantage, and customers are frankly too poorly informed to care (and will stay that way if the carriers have their way).

    • Simple says:

      @Cynical: I couldn’t disagree more.

      AT&T, the largest iPhone carrier has gone out of it’s way to cripple high-bandwidth applications on iPhone. Skype over 3G was disabled for the longest time as a result. Same with Slingplayer, etc. You still can’t use FaceTime over 3G.

      At the same time, RIM’s optimization towards compression and minimal bandwidth use is a product of two things:

      1) They started making use of wireless data years ago one a single MB was -very- expensive. Data compression was critical as a result.
      2) Their OS is so far behind that they lack the apps (or even a competitive, modern browser pre-BBOS 6.0) to run up data usage anyways. Hard to drink down GB of wireless data when there is nothing on your phone worth using.

      It’s not Apple “bribing” carriers. They’re just selling a product that does something people WANT to do: consume wireless data. The high data costs are a side effect of that.

  15. MattMcD says:

    Its unfortunate how many people actually want RIM to fail. It would be a shame to actually see that happen.

  16. Doug says:

    WK if you want a physical keyboard for your iPhone this product looks pretty promising: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/e66e/

  17. Jason Hickman says:

    For me, I would switch willingly from my blackberry to an iPhone (and pick up an iPad as well), but for the following:

    1. Security. My firm uses BBs for work and our clients wouldn’t be impressed if we used something that increases the risk.

    1A. Maybe because of #1, my firm is all “synced up” with BBs, and apparently, an iPhone won’t work when it comes to automatically pushing e-mails, updating my calendar on my handheld when an event is added on our main system, and so on.

    2. Flash video – I see from comments above that this may be less of a factor, but for now, it rankles.

    3. Too much of the software I use and will be using for work, along with some other applications that I use for non-work purposes, do not run on “Apple”, for god-knows-what-reason. This isn’t an argument in favour of the BB per se, but it does explain why I’m reluctant to go “all Apple”, even though I love the MacBook I got earlier this year, and I’m a huge fan of my iPod Touch.

    4. Like WK, I prefer the BB keyboard, though I can get used to the touchscreen I use on my iPod so presumably, I could get just as used to an iPhone.

    As far as tablets go, I don’t *need* one – I have a work computer (PC) and my Mac at home, plus my iPod – but damnit, I *want* one 🙂 And I’m wresting over going with an iPad, the new Samsung Galaxy that they’re advertising the heck out of, or a BB Playbook, once some of the bugs get worked out. So for now, I’m in a holding pattern. Any thoughts re: the various tablets would be much appreciated!

  18. Craig says:

    RIM has never been all that innovative. They started with a product that wasn’t theirs, and developed it further. They’ve also paid about a billion dollars in patent infringement cases. RIM succeeded because their only competition was a poorly run Palm and their really terrible hardware. The BB OS has always been pretty bad.

  19. MC says:

    One thing everyone needs to be reminded is that “Android” is not a company. Android phones are manufactured by at least 4 companies (HTC, LG, Samsung, Motorola) so all those guys are splitting the 30% market share that Android has.

    Apple gives you one choice – all touch. If that’s not for you then you are pretty much screwed.

    Here’s a question to ponder. If RIM switched to Android would they immediately go from “backwards” to “awesomely innovative”?

    Also – neither Apple nor the group of Android companies were rejected by Saudi Arabia, Russia etc. and did not require special “deals” to operate in those countries. Why is that? Is it because those governments can already easily read data on those devices? Why was RIM singled out?

    • Tiger says:

      If RIM switched to Android, my next phone would probably be from them. Tho’ I’m tempted by the tough versions — waterproof, drop-able, etc.

  20. Tiger says:

    I just switched from my iPhone 4 to an android phone — being able to move stuff to and from my phone without worrying about it was key.

    And Flash 10.3.

    So I love my Nexus S…

  21. Northbaytrapper says:

    I’m feeling like a bit of a dolt…I don’t get the tablet craze, for another pound and the same price I can have a fully functional laptop.

    What am I missing?

    • RN200 says:

      The ability to torment developers into creating web apps for yet another form factor / browser environment…

  22. Bob says:

    teenagers love BBM…. more than any other texting application. If you have the kids your not dead.

  23. Glen says:

    “The iPhone’s on-screen keyboard is a disaster. It is only useable for a few words at a time, and then your head explodes.”

    I have been saying this exact same thing and iPhone users absolutely skewer me for it. It feels so good to have an ally in this. Thanks buddy!

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