RIM's future is about as uncertain as it can get. For many regular BlackBerry users this doesn't really affect their daily lives as, worst case scenario if BlackBerry dies out, they could simply move on and get a new phone with a new company. For some us though, the thought of our beloved Canadian-based cellphone manufacturer going under is a super depressing one.
None of us want to even think BlackBerry could just disappear and that we'd have to decide between getting an Android, Windows 7, webOs phone or iPhone. But with all the negative publicity RIM has been getting these last couple of weeks, one can't help but wonder what the future holds for BlackBerry. Will we ever see the QNX-based OS we've been promised? Will RIM get a new CEO(s) that might want to take BlackBerry in a different direction? Will RIM be bought out by another company (Google, Apple, Microsoft, HP)?
While we have no way of knowing what a specific person taking over the CEO role could do to improve a company, we can guess and hypothesize what a merger with another giant could bring to the table for us BlackBerry users. That's why this last question presents to me the most interesting scenario worth debating. Could a merger work?
Originally, I was going to concentrate on covering all this information in one article. Half an hour into it I realized it would be nearly impossible so I decided to divide this editorial into three parts. Here is Part I. Please forgive me for what I'm about to write.
How a DroidBerry could actually happen
It sounds like a theme name that we can download in App World but if we think more about it, would a BlackBerry-Google marriage work?
My personal opinion is that the only way any of this could work is if the BlackBerry OS (the weakest part of the BlackBerry universe) ceased to exist with certain parts of it surviving. That plus BlackBerry's hardware would be the anchors for any type of merger.
Now, Google makes the Android OS and pretty much leaves it in the hands of 3 main manufacturers (HTC, Samsung and Motorola) to make the hardware/phones that will carry this OS. So it's basically 4 companies working together to make phones which explains why there's a new Droid out there every 2 weeks pretty much. In all fairness while both HTC and Samsung do make Windows 7 based phones; with Motorola rumoured to have one coming out in the future; most of their efforts are concentrated on Android. BlackBerry could essentially be a fourth manufacturer of Android-based smartphones (can't believe I just said that).
BlackBerry keyboards are the best.
Google would love to add BlackBerry to their list of manufacturers because they need a strong lineup of keyboard based phones. Lots of people hate typing on touch screen only phones and have been hoping someone would come out with a Droid with a solid keyboard. Motorola tried to answer the call by making the Motorola Droid Pro, which pretty much looks like a BlackBerry, but fell short in terms of the feeling of the keyboard in comparison to current BlackBerry models. BlackBerry keyboards are the best in the industry, hands down. Motorola, on the other hand, is probably the worst of the 3 Android manufacturers in terms of hardware. Based on this, you can only imagine how much Google would make if they introduced a phone with BlackBerry's hardware and their OS on it.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server and world-renowned security.
Google would also want a couple of other things from RIM: BlackBerry's security and the BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. Now I'm not at all savvy with servers and transferring them and all that security stuff; etc so how likely/difficult that is to be possible beats me. But like in any case of a takeover, if it is at all possible, you take as much as possibly can from the company you're taking over. You can bet anything Google would want these aspects of the BlackBerry platform as they have been some of RIM's strongest selling points.
Obviously, Google would love to take RIM's security and BES strengths and incorporate them into the Android platform. When the Droid Pro was introduced, Google tried to drive the point home that it was a business oriented phone. Unfortunately for them, most top tier companies have still relied on BlackBerry for their business needs. This merger would allow them to broaden the public's perception of their OS from fun and diverse to also secure and business oriented at the same time.
BlackBerry Messenger will never die.
The same logic can be applied to PIN-to-PIN messaging. BlackBerry Messenger is one of the most popular apps ever across any platform. Combine that with the fact that Google's main competitor, Apple, just announced their completely new and innovative (#sarcasm)iMessage, and you have a perfect reason as to why Google would want BBM all for itself. It's been rumored that Google is already working on a competitor for BBM and iMessage. No word on when/if it'll come out but if Google were to acquire the rights to use BBM, it is without a doubt they would dump whatever app in the works they might have to adopt BBM instead. The addiction, love, and loyalty of BBM users would probably be Google's greatest gain.
We've seen some parts of Android in a BlackBerry already.
We've seen RIM running Android apps on a PlayBook already. We know it's possible. We know if things stay the way they are, eventually we'll be able to run Android apps on our future BlackBerry phones even. So in those terms, it almost seems like BlackBerry hardware and Google software would integrate very easily.
From a business standpoint, RIM would gain a tremendous amount of business as without a doubt an Android powered BlackBerry would sky rocket to the top of the smartphone pyramid. I don't know much about the stock market but a move like this would probably help out in that area as well. A merger of two giants would be unprecedented and, best of all, would drive customers away from competitors.
Obviously I hope none of this happens, I hope the new BlackBerry 7 kill in the market and that this discussion never happens again. Unfortunately though, business is business and sometimes companies need to cut their losses. This specific merger is only one of many possibilities.
Tomorrow I will be posting Part II of this editorial.
So stay tuned and please let us know your thoughts on RIM's future!