Not enough credit is given to Mike and Jim the (old) CEOs of RIM. True they lead the company and it’s shareholders to lose upward of 70 billion dollars as shares drowned 82%. And that’s only between 2008-2011. But what they were doing was a balancing game. One the consumer doesn’t truly appreciate. Those who believe in in the revival of the BlackBerry with BB10 in 2013, believe in the future of mobile computing. The era of “smartphone” that BlackBerry started is over. By 2007 the ‘personal computer’ had taken over with iPhones, Androids and various tablet players. The CEOs of old came to realize their old Java-Based BlackBerryOS wasn’t going to take them where they needed to go, and they struggled for years sweltering in the arrogance and hubris of their former glory. Fragmenting BBOS and pushing the decade old platform to the ends of its strengths. But everything changed when QNX decided to make its move.
The Ottawa-based company[QNX] would have continued on its merry way having nothing to do with the world of smartphones were it not for an odd turn of events three years ago. QNX had been acquired in 2004 by Harman International Industries, a large U.S. media company that does audio and infotainment systems for cars, homes and theatres. Harman gave QNX plenty of freedom, even allowing it to sell software to Harman’s competitors.By 2009, however, some of QNX’s customers were grumbling that their key supplier was owned by a competitor. The situation got to the point where Dodge suggested that Harman sell QNX to another company. One of the firms on QNX’s short list was RIM. Dodge asked David Johnston, who at the time was UW’s president, to arrange a meeting with RIM founder Mike Lazaridis. “He really liked what he saw,” Dodge said of Lazaridis. The deal went through in record time, closing in the spring of 2010. Lazaridis’s original plan for QNX was to have it build the operating system for the PlayBook, RIM’s tablet. It was still undecided whether QNX would work on the next generation of BlackBerry smartphones. “We had to prove ourselves on the tablet first,” Dodge said. “But once we proved ourselves there, then we went full-steam ahead on the phone.”
There you have it folks. The truth of the matter is that QNX came to save RIM from itself. We must applaud the old CEOs for not being SO thick that they let this acquisition fall to the way side. They scooped it up because it is definitely what they needed. They then went on to purchase The Astonishing Tribe. A move that would imbibed QNX (and now the BlackBerry 10 SDKs) with the Cascades Framework giving developers the ability to create rich fluid physics into their apps and create a uniformed look for the BlackBerry 10 experience. As I like to say, RIM is the pocket and QNX is the pants.
We need to stop seeing BlackBerry 10 as RIMs endgame. This is actually a much bigger turn of events. To bring QNX out from behind the scenes and put this ultra powerful highlyspecialized OS into consumer hands where its reliability can be experienced and potential explode. Dan Dodge is now RIM’s lead software architect and is responsible for driving both the QNX business and the BlackBerry 10 platform vision. RIM is going to succeed because RIM has stepped aside and given itself to QNX to make the bigger picture a reality.