2012
08.16

Where does the future of RIM exist? That’s the million-dollar question being thrust into the spotlight as rumors swirl around the details of its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system—rumors that have an M2M undertone.

Official word from RIM is that it is exploring the possibility of licensing the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is set to debut in early 2013. What does that mean to the masses? Well, for starters it might create a chance for OEMs to sell some hardware around the some 78 million RIM users worldwide. But still, if BlackBerry 10 reality matches the rumors, that user experience is set for an overhaul, and that could go either way for RIM.

Now here is where the M2M play stands out. The OS is built on software from QNX, a company it acquired last year. QNX is an interesting company. It provides a great platform for building embedded systems, and it was clear from the start that RIM had its eye set on creating that integrated smartphone to in-vehicle experience when it acquired QNX.

We got a firsthand look at the capabilities of QNX at our Connected World Conference this past year, when the company placed its connected Porsche on the show floor. Through this vehicle QNX was able to show off the power of its platform, giving a glimpse into the type of user experience we might see with the next generation OS from RIM.

While the platform in the concept car obviously wasn’t BlackBerry 10, you still got a feeling for what you might expect from the OS and how that experience might translate to other embedded applications: one-touch Bluetooth paring of a smartphone with NFC, hands-free communication with voice recognition, and overall HTML5-based infotainment with a customizable human-machine interface, to name a few. It raises the question about how this experience might translate to other markets, like healthcare or retail, for example.

Back to that “possibility” of RIM maybe licensing BlackBerry 10 to other manufacturers; I say, why not? RIM has to do something to jumpstart its place in the market. The latest data for Q1 of fiscal 2013 (reported at the end of June) shows revenue coming in at $2.8 billion. Not only is that down 33% from the previous quarter, but that figure rests 43% below the year-ago period. Needless to say, RIM has to change its fortunes and perhaps that change of fortune won’t necessarily come in the smartphone world where Apple and Android dominate. Factor in the entrance of Windows 8 and the competition just got stiffer. 

In my opinion, M2M is where it is at … and perhaps more importantly, where the others don’t seem to be with great abundance just yet. Again, it’s going to be a complicated endeavor if RIM does indeed go full-fledged into M2M, so the story here is far from over. In any case, at least there might be another chapter to chat about for now.

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