What components do you need in order to compete with Apple and Google in the handheld and tablet environment? 
  1. Sexy Hardware
  2. Slick Operating System
  3. Software Distribution Platform

Research in Motion has exactly none of the three.  Jeffrey Brandt in today’s PinHawk newsletter pointed to RIM Suffers as Profit Falls 58.7% in yesterday’s NY Times.  Shortly after I read this article I saw Joe Scarborough this morning on MSNBC go off on a rant about how terrible the latest Blackberries are.  Things are not looking good for RIM.  The only thing keeping them afloat is corporate inertia.  Companies have invested millions of dollars in Blackberry Enterprise Servers and staff to run them.  Companies like the manageability and security of the Blackberry devices and RIM has rested on those laurels for too long.  Employees are consumers.  Consumers want sexy hardware, slick operating systems, and Angry Birds.  (As my good friend Sean Brady likes to say, “it’s not a real operating system if you can’t play Angry Birds.”) Corporate IT can not hold back the tide of iPhones and Android devices any longer.  What’s RIM to do?

Nothing.  Their best hope now is to sell their patents.  I’ve said for awhile that Apple should just pay cash for RIM, add BES connectivity to the iPhone, and watch the corporate world’s cash flow in, but I don’t think they’ll do that.  Their consumer approach is working fine so far, why change it.  But I think there is another player for whom a RIM purchase might make sense, Amazon.
Amazon has the best selling Kindle E-book reader that, despite it’s limited functionality, is a pretty sexy device.  It’s an open secret that they are attempting to build a fuller featured tablet device to compete with the iPad.  They have got one of the biggest distribution platforms in the world, I don’t think they’ll have any problem attracting developers.  With a RIM purchase and an attractive lineup of modern Amazon devices, all they would need would be a slick operating system and they could quickly take over the corporate communications market. 
I hear WebOS is available.

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Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.