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Google's Matias Duarte says the door is still open to the dying Research in Motion

June 29, 2012

If you thought things are looking bad for RIM, they are about to get a whole lot worse.

They’ve lost $518 million in the last quarter, and they are about to cut 5,000 jobs, or around a third of their global workforce. That doesn’t look like a company that it’s going to survive much longer on its own. But even more important than the bad news about the Blackberry’s sales performance, is the bad news about the RIM’s future, which is supposed to be BB10.

BB10 was supposed to launch this fall, but it has now been pushed to early 2013, and who knows if that’s even the last delay for the OS. This delay means that the Canadians are still not going to have anything competitive this fall, when Android 5.0 is going to be released with at least one device from every top Android manufacturer, the new iPhone is coming out as well, along with Windows Phone 8.

With all that going on this fall, people are going to forget RIM even exists, especially since now they have nothing to show. My suggestions for RIM might’ve given them a chance with the OS release this fall, but I doubt even those are going to work if they are pushing the OS to next year. So what’s left for RIM to do, then?

For now, RIM still has no plans of giving up on their “independence”. That sounds brave, and almost worthy of applause, but RIM should’ve realized a long time ago that this is not the market and ecosystem from ten years ago. Back then, every phone company could just make their own OS if they wanted, since all operating systems were so bad, and apps almost nonexistent, that it didn’t really matter what OS the phone was running.

Times have changed, and now the ecosystem is a whole lot more important than a specific piece of hardware. A certain innovative piece of hardware could make things exciting. But otherwise mobile players require a pretty exciting ecosystem with a big momentum behind it, to even stand a chance to survive

At Google, the doors are still open for Research in Motion

In an interview, Matias Duarte, the chief designer for Android said he would be glad to have RIM join the Android ecosystem:

“If RIM wanted to work on Android devices, I would really welcome that. They clearly make great physical keyboards.”

Of course Google would be happy to take another manufacturer in their ecosystem, especially if they can continue to make good products. Unfortunately, RIM has said before that they are not thinking about joining Android. They are still focusing on releasing BB10 and see how that goes, first.

A Microsoft bailout?

There are rumors that Steve Ballmer has tried to convince RIM to adopt Windows Phone, and to give them a similar deal with the one they gave Nokia. Microsoft has been trying for a long time to buy RIM, because they wanted to own the mobile enterprise market, which RIM did at the time. Now RIM has a lot less to offer, but Microsoft will take whatever manufacturer it can get for its mobile OS.

My question is, if both RIM and Nokia will be getting the same special kind of deals, where does that leave HTC, Samsung, and Huawei? They seem to be always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the WP platform. Did they keep WP alive only for these two companies to get all the benefits?

I think the three phone makers should seriously step back and figure out if supporting the WP platform is beneficial for them, or they are just helping two half-dead competitors to get back into the market and compete heavily with them. Is that really a desirable outcome for HTC and Samsung? Help Nokia and RIM make a comeback and steal market share?

But at this point, there’s little chance of RIM making a comeback on their own. It seems to be already too late for them to even release their own modern OS in 2013, and switching to either Android or WP would take at least another year. Can RIM survive until mid-2014? And if it does switch to another platform, will they even matter by then to make a dent in the market? At this point, the most likely outcome seems to be that RIM will be acquired (not necessarily by someone in the mobile market).

Let me know your opinions in the comments section below.