On Wednesday, July 4th, BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins wrote an op-ed piece exclusively for the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, titled “Don’t Count BlackBerry Out.”
Mr. Heins tries to make the case that it is the media who are to be faulted for reporting fact after fact that demonstrate that RIM is a sinking ship. He says he understands the frustration of shareholders and their eagerness to see the underlying value surface. Perhaps his boldest statement in the face of reality, at least from an outsiders view, is that RIM is not a company at its’ end. He then goes on to spend the rest of his op-ed piece talking about global innovation, the nascent mobile computing market, growing Blackberry market share (in countries where the iPhone/Android have not landed in force), and how Blackberry 10 is poised to connect users not just to each other but to everyday life – such as parking meters, car computers, and ticket counters.
To him I respond that I believe the three words he is looking for to describe his new Blackberry 10 Platform and Ecosystem are: The Internet, Bluetooth, and iTunes/iCloud/Google Play – which do all of that today, now, on iPhones and Android phones.
Thomas Edison, although generally credited as the inventor of the light bulb, was not actually the first to produce an incandescent bulb. What Edison did was to make it better and is actually most noted for developing the infrastructure for modern electric power. (Fun Fact in Capitalism: The first actual electric lamp was developed by Humphrey Davy and demonstrated to the Royal Society in approximately 1806. A near mirror version of “Edison’s Light Bulb” was patented a full year earlier by Joseph Swan in 1878 in England. Even then, if you printed it in the newspaper, had enough money and lawyers, you could make it almost true that “Edison invented the Light Bulb.”)
Mr. Heins claims that: “With BlackBerry, RIM created the framework that gave people their first taste of an untethered yet completely connected life.” Unfortunately for Blackberry, just like Edison, Apple has already given people a completely untethered and connected life as well as an amazing ecosystem for content producers and developer’s to flourish in. Apple took the Smartphone and built an incredible infrastructure around it that left the actual inventor in the dust.
Mr. Heins states that the latest delay in the release of the new Blackberry 10 mobile platform is due to the additional time needed to stitch together the way certain features work together and improve the integration between applications.
RIM protests that it eschews the homogenized sameness of competing operating systems. Yet Blackberry 10 is mostly a combination of what RIM would call “Best of Breed” and what most of us would call the “Best Application Companies Available for Acquisition” group of disjointed functions which, with the exception of perhaps Apple and Symbian platforms, describes how the Android mobile platform is built. Third Party Applications add missing core functionality to Android, Apple, and Symbian.
The most damning comment made by Mr. Heins is that “RIM has hired outside advisers to help me and the other members of the executive team think about the business in new ways and to explore a range of alternatives that leverage our core strengths and build on the BlackBerry brand.”
To me, if RIM had the vision for Blackberry and its’ presently untapped underlying value as well as its’ evolutionary and perhaps even revolutionary future for the Blackberry 10 mobile platform, you would be reading this on your Blackberry device today instead of on an iPhone, iPad, or Google Android based device.
As my father used to say, “Don’t tell me, Show me.”