Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Where is the RIM/BlackBerry Nexus One? (or: some random mobile thoughts & open letter to RIM)

This is a great article from Bill Gurley on iPhone vs. Android.  Which is similar to much of my thinking.

Boils down to this:
iPhone = Apple of the PC Era = Control Platform for Superior UX (user experience)
Android = Microsoft of the PC Era = Open Platform and Cater to Customizations

But also inspired this rant what I think of the Berry

But what about RIM/BerryOS, Palm/PalmOS, Microsoft/WinOS and Nokia/Symbian?

- Nokia, Palm: too far behind to be a part of the real "super smart phone/OS" race.  Nokia still stuck in feature phone land, PalmOS/PalmPre is so slow, i could make coffee between switching apps sometimes.
- Microsoft: has a decent shot at being #3.  Windows Mobile v7 is way late.  Some devices like the HD2 look awesome, but too little too late IMO.
- RIM: Will sadly, likely go from a platform that should have stayed at the #1 spot, to going to fight MS for the #3 position

RIM's BlackBerry keyboard based smart phones are still the best PHONES of any smartphone on the market for a business user.  I've seen even consumers fall in love with the Berry without an email or data plan simply because of how functional it is, and how responsive the entire user experience is.

The issue is their OS and their lack of innovative consumer product DNA is killing them.  

Issues w/ the Berry:
1) BlackBerryOS Looks like Ass: The OS and UX still feels like Windows 3.1 in an era of Aero powered 3D desktops.  The icons used even in the latest version look like they are from the 80s (that said Nokia and Google both don't seem to have done a lot better and looks as if they keep hiring design school rejects to create most of their icons)

2) BlackBerryOS 3rd Party Dev  Platform Suck Balls: The platform is difficult for developers to build on.

3) RIM Has No Critical Mass Usage of Touch Screen: There are too few touch screen devices shipped from RIM to get game developers remotely excited about the platform.

So why do I still own RIM stock?   Besides the fact that my most favorite productivity device of all time is still the BlackBerry...

RIM does 3 things awesome well:
1) Great / Fast Email Experience (important to enterprise market)

2) Great IM/BlackBerry Messenger Ecosystem/Experience (important to consumer) 

3) Knows how to Build the Best Mobile Hardware Keyboard (important to everyone)

None of this matters however if they don't continue to innovate.  Here's a 3 areas that I think they should innovate on to help them stay competitive in 2010:

1) Own Location Messaging: They bought Dash Networks, put some of the Nav/GPS experience/IP to work and make BB Messenger even more addictive with great geo features.  If they can get this rolled out in an interesting way, the install base that they have will far exceed that of the tiny installation of Gowalla or FourSquare.  That said, I think those companies are all very innovative, and I don't think RIM should be focused so much on the fun element, but rather the P2P aspect of friend-finding.

2) Own Social Messaging: Invest and build the BEST Facebook Integration experience: you guys built the best email experience on mobile devices, now build the best social-messaging platform on top of the best mobile device with a hardware keyboard in the industry.  There's no better way to update your status than to use a Berry keyboard.  Just as Google allows you to sync all your data with your gmail account and gcal.  Look to Palm Pre as a starting point of making Facebook Connect as the basis for building a social messaging phone form the ground up.  Log-in w/ FBconnect, sync your contacts, integrate messaging and contacts with Facebook.  Be THE social phone that the Palm was suppose to be (but is way too slow to actually work, and not as integrated as it could/should have been)  

3) Own Flash: Get the best damn implementation of Flash on your devices -- which seems like ages ago since it was announced, and get a real browser working, and you'll have a shot at competing.  I don't think people care if you re-write the OS or not, or if you lose the existing applications that work in the legacy OS -- the thing that matters most is: will your 2010 phones with with Flash better than the other guys?  And will it have a competitive/fast browser experience.  Get flash right, and the Berry can immediate attract a massive number of developers that can contribute to its platform.

4) Own Style + Personalization: Bonus - Hire a good Sr. UI design director that has some real authority and influence: seriously, it wouldn't take that much to make your device icons and skins looks much better than the default AndroidOS.  The only people I've seen that come close to being decent are the Palm folks.  I mean, you could probably spend 1/10,000th of your engineering budget and get 10x better design than the Corel Draw clip art pack styled icons and look and feel.  Ok, that's a bit mean, but seriously -- give user experience design, and polish some thought.  You may never be Apple, but at least you could be competitive with Palm.

Posted via email from Albert Lai's Quick Blog

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