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blackberry 10

It’s not over until RIM says it’s over

Martin Carstens: Senior reporter
Obsessed with technology and the future, I write words for machines and people. Born in South Africa, now living in the United States. More

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I have grown exceedingly weary of the relentless churn of doomsday articles targeted at RIM. Most analysis articles are merely sports commentary disguised as opinion. Foghorning RIM’s demise is as mainstream as it comes. Yes, the company is bleeding. Axiomatically so by means of RIM’s latest earnings results, but it’s only over when RIM says it’s over.

Everyone has their opinions (motives). Traders heap on the gloom in the hopes of snapping up stock at rock bottom prices and reaping the benefits of buyout premiums should the axe drop.

Competitors feed on negative scuttlebutt. Somewhere a BlackBerry lover reads the hearsay and feels ostracised.

The media loves a train smash, and so does its readers. Who cares about RIM’s US$2.2-billion in cash reserves, zero debts and growth in emerging markets? Who cares about RIM’s growing army of 78-million people in 175 countries?

RIM is not Palm. Palm didn’t have cash while pivoting. RIM is not Nokia, the companies have divergent strategies.

BlackBerry is still a government stalwart and I watch with interest as pundits from the West toss about theories in which the world’s most secure smartphone platform gets snapped up by a Chinese bidder. Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies deploy BlackBerry in their enterprises.

Jean-Louis Gassée — ex-HP and Apple — is a brilliant man, but I disagree when he argues that RIM’s attempt at an entirely new platform with BlackBerry 10 is a waste of time, since newly announced delays will mean that competitors will simply continue their relentless onslaught and torch the fledgling platform as it emerges anyway. By that argument, there can never be room for a new platform. Mozilla probably disagrees with Gassée too. So do these ex-Nokia guys hellbent on bringing MeeGo phones to market.

My hope is this. That RIM sticks to its guns and eschews the “homogenized sameness of competing ecosystems” amid the miasma of trash talking. No one understands the severity of the situation better than the employees at RIM, old and new. Their credibility and livelihoods depend on defiantly rising above the derision. I don’t think there’s ever been a more determined bunch of people working on proving everyone wrong in a long time.

Time is running out, yes. RIM has to deploy its BlackBerry 10 platform before its cash reserves run out and before its emerging market tenets become too weak. RIM owes it to themselves and to its fans to ship a competitive BlackBerry 10 ecosystem, to show belief in its own brand, to blow everyone’s minds and not to pull a Nokia. If RIM knows that it can wait until 2013 with BlackBerry 10, despite that people believe the company is insane, then it should follow through. RIM’s job cuts — a bitter pill to swallow — is part of its corporate overhaul with which it aims to cut operating expenses by more than $1-billion by the end of its fiscal year, translating into more time. A smaller, nimbler team also means RIM can more easily adapt to the market as it evolves over the next 9 months — at the end of which BlackBerry 10 is scheduled to launch.

If it does all come crashing down in the end, RIM is acquired, cut up in pieces or sold for parts — to some RIM has long been dead — it will be a sad, sad day. But, we’re not there yet.

RIM started the smartphone revolution and if there was ever a company worthy and capable of an Apple circa 1997 rebirth, it’s the convalescent titan from Waterloo.

I’ll be buying a BlackBerry 10 device when it comes out and I definitely won’t be the only one. Chin up RIM.