There’s a refrain from the Dixie Chicks’ song “Lullaby” that keeps coursing through my mind as I think about Research In Motion (RIM) and its future. It’s the part where the singer asks: “How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough, is forever enough?”
Only in this case, the soundtrack screeches to a halt, like an old-style record on the turntable when someone presses the needle over the vinyl. The lyrics switch to something like: Is it ever enough? Is it ever enough?
That’s kind of how I feel about RIM this week. The company needed to do something big, and it sort of delivered with the promise of the BlackBerry 6 operating system due sometime between July and September, complete with a new Web browser and overhaul of the UI.
The company also announced voice over Wi-Fi calling for business users who want to use the same phone number between their desk phone and BlackBerry. The new BlackBerry Pearl 3G, the smallest BlackBerry yet, is due out in May through various UMTS/HSPDA carriers. The new BlackBerry Bold 9650, also due out in May, is a new global smartphone for CDMA customers.
Yawn. I understand BlackBerry fans will be happy to hear the new OS 6 is coming, and it’s no doubt bursting with improvements. But is it a case of too little too late, similar to what could happen with Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 series? It’s hard to say.
I wasn’t at RIM’s WES Conference where executives discussed the new OS 6. It’s possible that some folks got a more in-depth look at it; based on reports on the Web, the opening session didn’t provide a whole lot of specifics. That’s similar to what I experienced during Microsoft’s big unveiling of the Phone 7 series at Mobile World Congress in February – a lot of song and dance, but not a lot of specifics after the initial fanfare and ensuing booth demos.
Looking at RIM’s share prices this week, it’s hard to tell what investors think of the company’s latest news. The stock has been up and down a couple percentage points so far this week. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that a whole lot of them are listening to CNBC’s frenetic Jim Cramer, who would have you believe that this one “is done,” as he said during Monday’s show. No, this one is not done, in my opinion. RIM has plenty of room to grow internationally.
That said, it’s still not really swinging it out of the gate here for the North American market with a “this-blows-my-mind” type of single device. It’s got more competition in both the consumer and enterprise smartphone spaces than it has ever faced. And what did we expect? RIM had to come out with something big, and it is what it is.
Whatever RIM does this week or over the coming months, will it ever be enough? The company has seen its share of competitors come and go over the years, and its executives are often asked about so-called BlackBerry killers. Just today, Nokia unveiled the N8, and pretty much everyone expects the fourth version of the iPhone this summer. The HTC Incredible, yet another in a string of new Android-based devices, is due in Verizon Wireless stores on Thursday.
RIM is a sponsor of the Black Eyed Peas 2010 tour and will.i.am appeared at WES today, but there’s no “boom boom pow” in RIM’s immediate future.