As you may have seen yesterday, RIM posted some pretty disappointing earnings for the second quarter. As expected, the stock tanked in after hours trading, and is down ~20% today. The situation is anything but rosy for our good friends in Waterloo. And those very highly paid vultures better known as financial analysts continue their downgrades and other views, including one today spelling the “steam rolling” of RIM at the hands of our Cupertino friends.
There are obviously a lot of major issues going on at RIM these days. There’s no need to beat a dead horse (referring to the reasons…not the company) regarding what needs to be done. We’ve all said it. Build a shiny new OS (hopefully one that does NOT ape iOS), build out your developer ecosystem and provide both hardware and software updates with much greater speed.
While many pundits have looked into their crystal balls and see only three ecosystems, others, including BGR blogger Zach Epstein, continue to keep the faith. I’m not hear today to predict anything. I’ve said a thousand times before that these are unbelievable times. Three operating systems have been put out of commission this year alone. There’s no question that seven major mobile operating systems was “too much.” The (multi) billion dollar question is how many are enough?
I violently disagree with the pundits who believe it’s going to ultimately be an iOS and Android world. Firstly, Microsoft will fight until its last dying breath to be a leading player whenever there’s an operating system battle taking place….and with $51 Billion in cash in the bank (almost as much as Apple and Google [post Motorola acquisition] combined), they’re not going away any time soon. Second, I actually believe it would be detrimental to (enterprise) mobility if it were three players. Apple, Google, Microsoft and RIM each bring their share of innovation to the table. Granted, RIM has not brought much to the table recently, but let’s not forget who basically invented the smartphone. The four remaining players need to exist so they can beat each other up indefinitely. Why? Because we, the USERS, will benefit the most. We’ll get better hardware, software and ecosystems much faster than if we only have two players.
Look at the desktop OS war. Up until this week’s Build event, when was the last time there real innovation in the desktop operating system space? When was the last time there was real innovation in productivity suites (please don’t say the Ribbon in Office 2007)? Now look at the browser wars. Only once Firefox emerged, as well as Chrome and Opera, did Microsoft wake up and start investing once again in browser innovations. Who wins that battle?
Let’s get out of the tech space and look at the automotive industry. How many auto manufacturers compete for your money every year? Even in any particular segment there are 4 or 5 major players. Let’s not forget the implosion of the US auto industry just a couple of years ago. After being just steps away from falling off the precipice, US automakers (including Ford that received zero bail-out money) are delivering today very highly competitive products. That herculean turnaround happened in 2.5 years.
So let me ask my question again. Why can’t the market sustain four major ecosystems?