I remember how excited I was when I got my first blackberry. It was thick, black with a monochrome screen, but it was beautiful. Finally I could get emails, contacts, and a phone all in one. Goodbye abandoned and gently used palm pilots, and hello thumbs.
The first few blackberries I had were fantastic. They did what they were supposed to do really well. The other bells and whistles were slightly useful, like mobile web browsing or the music player, but they could be ignored. Then something happened that changed mobile phones, arguably forever – the iPhone. It did a lot of things really well. It did the basics (phone, email, calendar), and it also made mobile browsing functional. What changed it all was consolidation of media (songs, videos) that people already had and the already legendary app store.
It was around this time that RIM, in an attempt to compete with Apple, decided to push products to the market too early. The Storm was the worst and last blackberry I ever had. The touch was flawed, the clickety screen was a rate-limiting factor, and the thing rebooted like a 386 running windows 95 (aka constantly). It was an embarrassment. Instead of learning from that mistake in 2008, fast forward to 2011 and the release of the Playbook. Once again trying to compete with an Apple game changer, RIM releases a product that just wasn’t ready. Shortcomings were a camera with no camera app, and no native mail app. Let’s put that together with a wasteland for an app store and the fact that the arcane process for creating an app is a barrier (and affront) to developers.
Now Amazon just released the Kindle Fire. I will bet today that it is a game changer in the tablet market at a price point of $199. It doesn’t do everything at that price, but it does many things well. It provides access to movies and music, e-reader excellence, and an enhanced web browser that leverages Amazon’s server capacity. Why didn’t Bezos et al release this six months ago? Because it wasn’t ready! Why will it work? It will hum because there is access to a breadth of content that Amazon already has. The Fire is just another channel to the diversity of Amazon’s content.
Dear RIM, it’s time to wake up. I loved you once. You are Canadian. We should be proud of you, but now we are not. Stop putting products on the market when they aren’t ready. Learn! Pretty please, learn!!
PS – this really isn’t a public participation post, but a social media hardware post. Couldn’t help myself.