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Why BlackBerry Isn’t Molasses… Yet

Between the new phone leaks, 2,000 layoffs, and shipping problems, the past week has been a virtual (BlackBerry) storm for Research In Motion. To be honest, I’ve never been a big BlackBerry fan. I’ve been covering mobile for almost a decade, but I jumped from flip phones straight to iPhones (with some $500 Motorola and Nokia phones in between). I’ve never worked a corporate gig that required security. I never got hooked on the berry.

QNX, though, is some other stuff. I’m excited about that. The old-school operating system scooped up by RIM last year still means serious possibilities for BlackBerry’s future.

First, while I’m no expert on QNX, those in the know say it is a better competitor of Android and, to a lesser extent, iOS than the now-rusty Blackberry OS. Second, with the QNX-based BlackBerry Playbook and the QNX-rumored BlackBerry Colt, I could see true interplay between the tablet and the phone (by the way, requiring a phone to send email on your tablet doesn’t count as “interplay”). Whether it is Android phones and tablets or Apple iOS devices, we’ve grown accustomed to companies providing a universal platform between products. Since launching the QNX-driven Playbook last Spring, RIM has put us into a BlackBerry limbo.

Along with herd-in-chief Sean P. Aune, I co-sign what head herder Jon Rettinger said back in June: RIM needs to get its QNX software perfected, get it on the phone, and get it into our hot little, er, average-sized hands. Those BlackBerry OS phones you’re working on? Dump ‘em. It’s not like delaying the phones and revising them will hurt sales, and the company already dropped a couple thousand employees like Monday. Is it going to get worse if a couple older-OS phones don’t ship this quarter? Doubtful.

And to be honest, the main reason I want BlackBerry to succeed is for purely selfish reasons: I need – no, we need – more choices. The iPhone and iPad are both great, but the spotty AT&T coverage and expensive Verizon plans of the former and the lack of diversity with the latter are getting old. Android phones and tablets have lots of variety, but have some, um, stability and security issues. And we won’t even discuss HP Palm.

As I lamented a few Saturday’s ago, I’m not happy with the phones out there right now. Remember, for mainstream folk, BlackBerry was shorthand for feature phones the same way iPhone has been a generic term for smartphones today. BlackBerry still owns a nice chunk of the market. Now it just needs to update all its software to QNX (and, of course, come up with some phones to take advantage of it) to get its spot back.

Now where’s my damn horse?

Photo courtesy of technicool // CC 2.0


Damon Brown

Damon writes CBS's Gadget Watch and is the U.S. Editor of Pocket Gamer. He also writes books about music, sex, and tech. Damon's latest is The...

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