Dec 18

RIM’d by disbelief (Updated – after Microsoft/Nokia/RIM discussions disclosure)

RIM is struggling. That is clear. When the WSJ runs headlines like “Crisis mounts at RIM” there have to be problems.  Recent Constellation Research confirms this, but from a different angle.  Analysis of responses as to which platforms 15 mobility management vendors support reveals there is none for QNX (yes, none) and way less than expected for the Blackberry OS.

This is an indictment.  Three years RIM could do no wrong.  It seemed to reign supreme.  Its business-oriented secure approach was in use in thousands of enterprises, from large to small.  It was also gaining a beachhead with a younger generation, because they could use its messaging without incurring ‘per message’ charges. In 2011 the wheels began to come off; 2012 looks worse.

Of the 15 mobility management vendors that Constellation surveyed as part of its MoDM, MAD and MEM series of Reports (see Note 1), no vendors possessed support for QNX (which runs on the RIM Playbook tablet) and only 2 had future plans to support it.  In contrast 70% of these vendors support the existing Blackberry OS; yet even this is low – for a platform that was pre-eminent only recently.  To confirm the worsening position, QNX (an excellent OS) is designated as the OS for future Blackberry devices which means that few, on the current evidence, will support it.

Perhaps even more surprising is that Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS (and what may come after) enjoys broader and deeper support (even though Windows Phone is not as manageable, from a mobility management perspective, as its predecessors).  Already 40% of the 15 vendors support the Microsoft mobile platform, while a further 55% indicate they will do.

In theory, RIM is not shut out.  For example, it has its own mobility management software — and it acquired Ubitexx to extend its capabilities.  But possessing its own mobility management means that RIM could end up competing with those very vendors whom it should have as natural allies.

Seen from the mobility management perspective, RIM does not stand on solid ground.  Unless it can minimize the moving sands, it may indeed become a relic – as Palm and (still possibly) Nokia have become in the smart device arena.  The beneficiary?  Quite possibly Microsoft (though Android and iOS will also gain).


Update (after Microsoft/Nolia/RIM discussion disclosure)

Few should be surprised that either Microsoft or Nokia have had discussions with RIM.  Both Microsoft and Nokia have obvious interests, though the emergence of a possible joint initiative was more surprising.

From a technology viewpoint QNX is probably the flexible yet solid mobile OS that we (the world’s customers) will never enjoy.  In Microsoft’s hands there was a decent possibility that something good would have resulted.  But, by the time that discussion were opened, it is likely that it was already too late — too much was already invested in Windows Phone, etc.  In contrast, Nokia’s infamous underlying inability to understand computing would likely have ruined QNX faster than RIM has managed.  Though RIM may now be offering QNX to anyone who will license it, such initiatives are almost certainly too little, far too late (as the lack of support from mobility management vendors shown in Constellation Research’s Reports reveals).

This suggests that RIM, unless it can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the magician’s hat, has most of its worth in its customer base.  That may be an asset, but one with a declining value as cistomers (including enterprises) vote with their BYOD wallets.


Note 1:  The MoDM, MADM and MEM (Mobile Device Management, Mobile Apps+Data Management and Mobile Enterprise Management) series from Constellation Research includes:

  • MoDM, MADM and MEM: What You Should Expect For Managing Mobile Devices(published October 2011); this looks at how and why managing mobility has assumed so much importance so fast
  • “MoDM, MADM and MEM: Report 2 – Managing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise” (Available December 2011 and addressing market trends plus key capabilities enterprises should expect in MoDM, MADM and MEM mobile management software)
  • “MoDM, MADM and MEM: Report 3 – 100+ Mobile Management Capabilities Relevant to Enterprise Customers” (available December 2011 and providing a reference and comparison base as to what capabilities the following vendors offer: Airwatch, Amtelnet, Boxtone, Capricode, Equinux, FAMOC, Fiberlink, Good Tech, Kaseya, MAD, Nukona, SAP, SoTI, Tangoe and Trellia).

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