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  1.    #1  
    Hi all,

    FYI.

    Take care,

    Jay

    Research In Motion Eyes a Rebound

    April 10, 2011, By IAN AUSTEN & Jenna Wortham contributed reporting from New York.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/te...gewanted=print

    WATERLOO, Ontario — In a rare interview last week, Mike Lazaridis, one of Research In Motion’s two chief executives, was the one asking questions:

    “Why is it that people don’t appreciate our profits? Why is it that people don’t appreciate our growth? Why is it that people don’t appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global? Why is it that people don’t appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?”

    He wrapped up with “I don’t fully understand why there’s this negative sentiment, and I just don’t have the time to battle it. Because in the end, what I’ve learned is you’ve just got to prove it over and over and over.”

    Mr. Lazaridis can point to numbers that back up his frustrated defense of R.I.M., maker of the BlackBerry, the phone of choice in the White House and a global totem of connectedness. During its last fiscal year, the company, which is based here, shipped a record 52.3 million phones — a 43 percent increase over the previous year — and its fourth-quarter income of $924 million exceeded forecasts.

    Nevertheless, as R.I.M. prepares to introduce its first tablet computer on April 19, doubts about its future have arguably never been greater.

    Some analysts suggest that R.I.M. has lost its momentum and may now be heading downward, much like Palm, which in better days was expected to rub out the then-fledgling R.I.M. Current BlackBerrys are hobbled with an aging operating system, and the company’s market growth last year seems less impressive when contrasted with Apple’s 93 percent rise in iPhone shipments.

    In a world where applications have become a major selling point for mobile devices, the number of apps available for BlackBerry phones is in the tens of thousands, compared with the hundreds of thousands for Android and Apple devices. BlackBerrys are still prized for their e-mail capabilities, particularly among government and corporate customers who rely on the devices’ tight security. But it is increasingly common to find people who carry a BlackBerry for e-mail and an iPhone for everything else.

    That has led several analysts and investors to question R.I.M.’s ability to hold its own in a market dominated by devices running Google’s Android software, as well as iPhones and iPads. “They’ve been caught flat-footed,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, the former chairman of Palm’s software spinoff and a partner at Allegis Capital in Palo Alto, Calif. “They’ve built a tremendous company; they are people with distinguished backgrounds. They are not idiots, but they’ve behaved like idiots.”

    Jim Balsillie, R.I.M.’s other chief executive, vigorously rejected suggestions that R.I.M. was ill-prepared for the changes in its markets. But he acknowledged that if it had moved earlier to introduce its tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, it could have improved perceptions of the company. And he agreed with critics on one thing: Many companies will struggle to adapt as the industry makes the huge shift to a world of powerful mobile computers.

    “No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform,” Mr. Balsillie said in an interview. “It’s almost never done, and it’s way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die.”

    Mr. Balsillie says the PlayBook will show that R.I.M. has joined Apple in making that move. The tablet is important in part because it will be running R.I.M.’s first all-new operating system since the introduction of the BlackBerry over a decade ago. That software will also be on new phones that the company will release in the coming months.

    Richard Tse, an analyst with Cormark Securities in Toronto, said the new operating system might prove to be as pivotal to R.I.M.’s future as Apple’s decision to bring back Steven P. Jobs in 1996 and to base its future technology on software he developed at NeXT Computer.

    The other historical lesson comes from Palm, the hand-held computing pioneer, which failed to build up enough momentum for its new operating system and had to put itself up for sale. Hewlett-Packard bought it two years ago and is trying to revive the software in its own tablet due later this year, called the TouchPad.

    R.I.M.’s equivalent to NeXT is another Canadian company, QNX Software Systems, which it acquired a year ago. It specializes in highly reliable operating systems that are used, among other things, to control systems in automobiles and airplanes as well as nuclear reactors.

    The PlayBook has a seven-inch display and weighs less than a pound. Its powerful dual-core processor helps it run several applications at once and, when combined with software developed with Adobe, play Flash-based video at a crisp resolution, even on a large television screen. Apple mobile devices cannot display Flash content, in part because Apple says it strains batteries. Mr. Lazaridis said the QNX system takes a low-power approach; according to R.I.M., the PlayBook has a battery life of 8 to 10 hours, while Apple says the iPad 2 lasts 10 hours.

    But what the PlayBook does not have is the many applications to make use of that power. Apps from outside developers are crucial to the success of an operating system, but some developers say they find it difficult and expensive to create apps for R.I.M. products.

    When Jason Schwartz was building an app called Matchbook for remembering bars and restaurants, his research found that the most likely users were women who used BlackBerrys. Despite that, the first version of his app works only on iPhones.

    “The one you can get to market the quickest and the cheapest is an iPhone,” said Mr. Schwartz, who lives in New York. “The experience with Apple is very easy. With R.I.M., I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

    Tyler Lessard, vice president for developer relations at R.I.M., acknowledged that the company had fallen short in providing tools for small developers, but he said this was rapidly changing. R.I.M. has also slowly started giving developers the tools to make sophisticated apps specifically for the new tablet. Electronic Arts, the big game maker, has already created a PlayBook version of its racing game Need for Speed.

    To fill the gap in apps, the PlayBook will have a pair of “apps players” that can run Android and earlier BlackBerry applications, both of which are based on the Java language. Users, however, will be able to download Android applications only if they have been vetted by R.I.M. and added to its online apps store.

    Even if R.I.M. does a lot of things right, it could still fail to replicate Apple’s success with tablets. Motorola’s Android-based Xoom tablet was well received by reviewers, but Deutsche Bank estimates that Motorola has sold only about 100,000 units since February. By comparison, Apple sold about a million iPad 2s during the first weekend it was available.

    The Xoom, however, is more expensive than the iPad. By contrast, the PlayBook is the first prominent tablet to match the iPad’s price: it will start at $499.

    R.I.M. does have something that Android phone makers and Apple lack: access to the corporations and governments that have been buying fleets of BlackBerrys for years. As on the BlackBerry, R.I.M. will give companies control over the features and data on employees’ PlayBooks, and the devices will have access to a company’s high-security global data network.

    Mr. Balsillie did suggest that R.I.M. might no longer aspire to rule the mobile world — an unusual admission for someone who has long been an aggressive competitor. He hinted that having a piece of a fast-growing pie would be enough.

    “To be pretty blunt about this: how many people in the world have computing devices in phones, and how many do we have to sell to ensure that we’re a rip-roaring success over the next five years?” he asked, without providing an answer. “You’ll find that you don’t have to be all things to all people.”


    Jenna Wortham contributed reporting from New York.
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  2. #2  
    The 7" Playbook at $500 costs more than an 10" Asus Transform at $400 . The Playbook is lacking key specs of the 10" Asus, Motorola, Acer, LG, and Samsung tablets. The worst Playbook spec has to be that to use the contacts or calendar, you have to also have a BlackBerry phone.

    Someone at RIM has to have seen the comparisons:
    HP TouchPad vs. iPad 2, Xoom, Playbook, Galaxy Tab

    At $299, the Playbook could have sold and even helped reverse the BlackBerry phone death spiral.

    At $499 the Playbook will end up being a footnote on a Wikipedia page.
    Last edited by milominderbinder; 04/11/2011 at 07:23 AM.
  3. #3  
    I'll let you all know when I get mine. I'm getting one for free from RIM through the developer program where people who developed an app before March 31 get one for free.

    I for one am not counting out the PlayBook just yet. Demo videos look stellar. Reports from anyone who have played with one tend to be good to REALLY good. The QNX OS seems to have some serious multitasking muscle. Finally, RIM has stated that standalone email/pim etc. will come through a software update.

    I really wouldn't count RIM out just yet. And... at least RIM has a release date 8 days from now. Lord knows when the TouchPad comes out.
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  4. #4  
    I hope that the PlayBook does well.

    RIM watched what happened to the Xoom that shipped without a working microSD. It is better to not ship than to ship incomplete. But the PlayBook can't fix it's microSD with software.

    The Acer and Asus 10" tablets are just hitting too. Right out of the box they have have contacts, email, calendar, microSD, and HD displays. And they are cheaper.

    For years companies like Acer, Asus, and HTC made phones under the Palm, BlackBerry, or Motorola names. The Asus Treo 500 was a workhorse. My HTC Treo 600 and HTC Treo 650 were beasts.

    Now they are selling direct to the consumer. That cuts out BlackBerry's 20% middle-man margin.
    Last edited by milominderbinder; 04/11/2011 at 08:22 AM.
  5. #5  
    Their "new" operating system soon to be released on phones. Makes me sick. Bet they are gonna copy stacks too.
  6. samab's Avatar
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    #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by milominderbinder View Post
    Now they are selling direct to the consumer. That cuts out BlackBerry's 20% middle-man margin.
    The only people cutting out the middle-man is Apple.
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by laingman View Post
    Their "new" operating system soon to be released on phones. Makes me sick. Bet they are gonna copy stacks too.
    It's 'new' to RIM. Just like WebOS is 'new' to Hewlett-Packard. I don't understand the whining. It's not like anyone is complaining about companies copying apple by releasing a device with a glass screen full of glossy looking icons that fire up apps when you touch them, right?
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  8. #8  
    I'm excited about getting my BlackBerry Playbook which I pre-ordered back in 3/26. A successful selling Playbook will help open the door for the HP TouchPad. People looking for a similar user experience with a larger screen will then get the HP.

    Now all I want is for HP to hurry up with the Pre 3 so I can get one.
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rainforrest View Post
    I'm excited about getting my BlackBerry Playbook which I pre-ordered back in 3/26...
    You have waited so long, why not wait just a bit more and just get the TouchPad?
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by milominderbinder View Post
    You have waited so long, why not wait just a bit more and just get the TouchPad?
    Honestly... I still LOVE WebOS but as it stands now the TouchPad has pretty much nothing on any other new tablet that's already out or coming out well before the TouchPad does except for....... WebOS.

    And I'm quite worried about a potential lack of apps. Even I as a WebOS developer am kind of hesitant to dive into doing TP apps because at this point I have no idea if anyone besides us WebOS die-hards is going to buy one. I really hope it will be a succes but I'm seriously worried about it failing miserably.

    It's WAY too late. WAY too late.
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  11. JLegacy's Avatar
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    #11  
    The Playbook has a unique user experience and has taken the whole "gestures" from webOS and made them all around the screen, more user-friendly, and more intuitive. What does the Touchpad do with gestures? Oh, gets rid of the gesture and goes with a single iPad style button. Maybe a simulated gesture area for legacy apps. Maybe.

    The OS is amazing, look what its dual core 1 GHz processor can do versus what the dual core 1.2 GHz webOS tablet has shown so far:
    TouchPad - runs smoothly, maybe has a little bit of lag in the UI or in a game.
    Playbook - has been shown to run multiple intense 3D games at the same time without lag, while video recording, etc.

    Not having a calendar, email, and contacts app doesn't really matter IMO if they're coming in a future software update. Windows works just fine without those apps. How is this possible? Because if you have a good enough browser you don't really need an app.

    Two things though that will affect this product's consumer success: A) How many apps it can get and how fast (Didn't RIM promise 4000 at launch?), and B) Battery Life (Which RIM claims will be better than the iPad's).

    I just hope they make a 10" version. <3
    Peace, Freedom, Prosperity.

    If you have a complaint/request relating to webOS please use the Feedback & Feature Requests Form at the official site.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMarco View Post
    It's 'new' to RIM. Just like WebOS is 'new' to Hewlett-Packard. I don't understand the whining. It's not like anyone is complaining about companies copying apple by releasing a device with a glass screen full of glossy looking icons that fire up apps when you touch them, right?
    I would say what every one has copied from apple which could be called revolutionary is in the web browsing department with the pinch to zoom and such. Other than that I think I had icons on my treo before I knew what an iphone was, nothing special there.

    But probably there is no better way to do the multi-tasking and everybody will have some version of it in the future. But blackberry's implementation is a little bothersome to me. I see it as a major problem for palm/hp, especially with the market share lead that rim has. How can they take down blackberry if the user experience is exactly the same. If I had a BB but wanted liked webos, now there will be no reason to switch.
  13. #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by laingman View Post
    I would say what every one has copied from apple which could be called revolutionary is in the web browsing department with the pinch to zoom and such. Other than that I think I had icons on my treo before I knew what an iphone was, nothing special there.

    But probably there is no better way to do the multi-tasking and everybody will have some version of it in the future. But blackberry's implementation is a little bothersome to me. I see it as a major problem for palm/hp, especially with the market share lead that rim has. How can they take down blackberry if the user experience is exactly the same. If I had a BB but wanted liked webos, now there will be no reason to switch.
    Indeed, the sliding minified apps is the only way that makes sense for appswitching. Anything else is bound to be crap. That's most likely why it got copied. Other than that I really don't think the user experience is the same between PlayBook and TouchPad. It's similar because after all they're all tablets but I would definitely not call it 'exactly the same'.
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  14. #14  
    I am not that concerned with the touchpad and playbook, since I dont see myself having so many devices. But they are going to be putting it on phones and from what I have read, I imagine it is going t be the same, even flicking apps to close them.
    I saw engadget asking Ruby it doesn't make them feel bad to loose what could have been an important differentiator and he took the high road, but I am sure it must hurt.

    I feel special rocking a webos phone, but when there are millions of BB users with the same thing whats the point.
  15. #15  
    I see your point. But apparently it's not a feature HP can take RIM to court for. My best bet is that it's not unique to begin with or Palm would surely have patented it?
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by milominderbinder View Post
    You have waited so long, why not wait just a bit more and just get the TouchPad?

    I prefer the 7" screen size of the Playbook, I use 7Digital, and BB QNX looks awesome.
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rainforrest View Post
    I prefer the 7" screen size of the Playbook, I use 7Digital, and BB QNX looks awesome.
    I do too. It's really funny how many 'previews' count the smaller screen as a disadvantage compared to the 10'' tabs out there but to me it's a plus. An iPad / Xoom / TouchPad is almost the same as taking a small laptop with you except for less thickness. 7'' is the sweet spot.

    I'm also really interested in the rumored future 7'' WebOS tablet. Much more than in the current Touchpad.
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  18. #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMarco View Post
    I see your point. But apparently it's not a feature HP can take RIM to court for. My best bet is that it's not unique to begin with or Palm would surely have patented it?
    It is patented. They asked Ruby about a lawsuit and he said those things are hard to defend. I am sure they considered it and decided not to sue
  19. #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by laingman View Post
    It is patented. They asked Ruby about a lawsuit and he said those things are hard to defend. I am sure they considered it and decided not to sue
    Interesting. That does make you wonder what's the use of having something patented in the first place...
    My shiny new TouchPad apps: Scientific RPN Calculator HD - Screamager HD
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMarco View Post
    Interesting. That does make you wonder what's the use of having something patented in the first place...
    The use usually is to protect yourself against other's patent infringiment.
    Newness Developments apps:

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