Google's advice for RIM (but they're not listening)

Before RIM again delayed the BlackBerry 10, it might have taken a cue from the Google exec responsible for shepherding the Nexus 7 project.

BlackBerry 10 in action
CNET

No one reason can fully explain why certain tech companies rock while others seem congenitally unable to add two plus two. Especially when you're talking about the soap opera atmosphere around Research In Motion, where the news goes from bad to worse.

On the back of new downgrades following the release of the company's fiscal first quarter earnings, RIM shares were trading down today more than 18 percent.

It was just happenstance, but RIM's earnings report hit the wire while Google was playing host to thousands of developers who had come to San Francisco to attend the company's annual I/O conference. There was a grab bag of news coming out of Google I/O, highlighted by the announcement of the first-ever Google-branded tablet, the Nexus 7.

It turns out Google began working on the Nexus 7 in January. Six months later, it was ready to announce the product, says Patrick Brady, who heads up Android Partner Engineering at Google. Six months.

"This industry moves fast, so we have to move fast, too," Brady told CNET . "We can't spend a year developing hardware, because when it's done, it has year-old hardware. So we can't really afford to do that."

Meanwhile, RIM has again pushed back the introduction of its much-awaited BlackBerry 10, a product that may see the light of day early in 2013 -- assuming the company doesn't again blow its self-imposed deadline. Asked about the delay, here's what CEO Thorsten Heins had to say during the earnings report:

We intended to have BlackBerry 10 launched later this year. Now we move into calendar Q1. We still are in the process, as I described, to aggressively put BlackBerry 7 into the market. We still have a lot of BlackBerry 5, BlackBerry 6 out there. And we also have -- in those regions where we are very strong in the entry-level and midtier kind of smartphone portfolio, we've just recently launched Jet Series [ph], as I said in my text. And we're seeing quite -- some good pickup on that. So I expect this to help us in the next quarters and to stay relevant in those markets and have offerings for our customers in this market. And in enterprise, as I said, we are still upgrading our enterprise customers towards BlackBerry 7, making good progress with this. I expect us to be successful in bridging this gap and in protecting our installed base for those measures.

Later on, Heins had this to add:

I want to really make clear that we're not just building a new product, right? We're building a full, new, mobile computing platform that cannot be underestimated. So I think in terms of long-term stakeholder value, this platform will provide a basis to really create that long-term stakeholder value. It's not just about the next smartphone or the next tablet. It is really about a great new platform that we're building. So the teams are fully focused on this. They are working hard to get that done. I guess would we have loved to be a bit earlier? For sure. But we are where we are in quality and a -- just an outstanding user experience, that is what we want to deliver when we bring BlackBerry 10 to market. And we will do this. And in parallel, we are running those strategic assessments, as you have asked about. And they range from RIM executing on its plan, standalone, to whatever other model you could think about.

RIM thinks it still has time, but will the BlackBerry 10 still be relevant six months from now given the pace of change in smartphone technology, Heins' transcontinental rationalization notwithstanding? Maybe and maybe not. Gizmodo's Sam Biddle suggests it might be time for corporate hara-kiri. Judging from Wall Street's reaction to the company's latest quarter, more than a few investors are of similar mind. Either way, it's hard to find many people ready to place their trust in more promises, promises.

Again, Brady: "This industry moves fast, so we have to move fast, too."

 

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