Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RIM's new cross-platform strategy

RIM has made many announcements in the past 2 days at BlackBerry World.  Among the announcements, a trend is developing, which is RIM's support for other platforms.  RIM is clearly accepting the strength of each of its rivals, and taking advantage of some of their strengths to benefit the BlackBerry platform.

Multi-platform BES  

Yesterday, RIM announced a multi-platform BlackBerry Enterprise Solution (BES) after the acquisition of Ubitexx, a maker of cross-platform solutions.  The announcement shows that RIM is accepting the presence of iPhones and Android devices in the enterprise.  RIM is also leveraging the legendary security and device management capabilities of BES to earn additional revenue by selling this software.

This is particularly beneficial in companies that use entirely iPhones and Androids, since it allows RIM to earn revenue when it would not otherwise.  In addition, it would allow RIM to show these companies the benefits of BlackBerry, and try to convert them.  

Surprisingly smooth Android app player

Today, we got the first demo of the Android app player for the PlayBook, which was announced before April 19.  The appearance of Android apps on the PlayBook as icons like any other app is a great feature.  The smoothness of Android apps running on the player was incredible, and seemed as smooth as native apps.  The smoothness of the demo is testimony to the power of the QNX OS, since iOS and Android are incapable doing the same. 

RIM's strategy of offering an Android app player is smart, since it takes advantage of Android's 200,000+ apps.  In addition, the requirement for vendors to submit their apps into BlackBerry App World will literally add 200,000+ apps into App World.  RIM will have have their contact information and can market to them. 

Bing search, maps and location services

Today, Microsoft CEO surprised many by appearing on stage to announce the partnership with RIM on Bing.  Bing will be used for its search engine, maps and location services.  While many BlackBerry users would prefer using Google, Microsoft likely offered more favourable terms to RIM. 

The move also allows RIM to reduce its capital expenditure by letting Microsoft take care of maps and location services.  In addition, Microsoft may pay RIM royalties, since Microsoft would gain revenue from the services.  For example, Stephen Elop said that Nokia would obtain "billions" per year from Microsoft as a result of their partnership.

The days of going it alone are over

The smartphone sector is rapidly expanding, with new features added regularly.  It would be unrealistic for RIM to go it alone.  By striking partnerships, and offering cross-platform services, RIM is lowering expenses and making additional revenue.  RIM is also leveraging its strengths and taking advantage of those of its competitors.  With the cross-platform announcements in recent days, it is likely only a matter of time before BBM goes cross-platform.   

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