RIM CEO Talks Smack about Windows Mobile

Since I'm currently using a Blackberry 8310 as part of the Round Robin this week, a cross-platform dig from RIM's CEO Mike Lazaridis is something I absolutely have to comment on:

“The Apple iPhone has severe limitations when it comes to effortless typing. Of course you have more screen space, with more artistic interactions, but that’s not enough. We’ve seen this before when Palm tried virtual keyboards. When they launched the Treo they licensed our keyboard,” Lazaridis said.

Read: intomobile

Ok - fair point about the iPhone's soft keyboard. About Palm, though, well.. let's just say that Handspring (yes, this happened before Palm bought 'em) licensed your keyboard because your company is a Sue - Happy - Madhouse and not because there's something magical about BB keyboards. Although I'm only 3 days into my CrackBerry experience (see the relevant thread over at CrackBerry.com's forums - post there to win too, btw), I'm fairly sure I still prefer the Treo's keyboard. Just saying.

More Smacktalk after the break - Read on.

Moving on, Lazaridis had a few choice words for this site's platform:

“Windows Mobile isn’t that big a competitor…They are a modest force to RIM. Microsoft should be working at services, not at distributed PCs, which is what Windows Mobile actually still is.”

Microsoft should be working on services, eh? Maybe you weren't paying attention, but the day before your keynote at CTIA, Microsoft had a keynote of their own, announcing Microsoft System Center, Mobile Device Manager 2008. MSCMDM basically allows admins to manage Windows Mobile devices from the exact same interface they already use to manage Windows PCs. Frankly, having a mobile platform that's actually a “distributed PC” doesn't sound all that bad to me - Mo Power Mo Better.

...And really, Lazzy (can I call you “Lazzy?”), if you weren't afraid of Windows Mobile, would you really be developing a full Virtual Blackberry System to sit on top of our devices? Maybe you're just bitter because it looks like you're going to miss your “fall release” of the software. Oh... wait... you already did. :p

I think “Your overconfidence is your weakness,” there, Lazzy. I'm sure you'd reply “Your faith in your friends manufacturing partners is yours!”, but then we'd be calling RIM the evil Empire and Microsoft the Rebellion and that might get a little confusing for everybody. Moving on.

Yes, yes, I'm just stirring the pot here, but it's fun and everybody loves a little smacktalk. I'll have my initial thoughts on the BlackBerry 8310 up tomorrow, so be sure to check back. Here's a hint, though: I'll be nicer to CrackBerry fans in that article, but not entirely nice. Meanwhile, we'll call this a Round Robin Official contest post here too - let's have some more lighthearted trash talk, eh?

Um, No: Microsoft Rumored to Buy RIM

Sometimes a rumor is so ridiculous you have to comment on it. Our newest sister site, CrackBerry.com, is reporting that stock traders are all hopped up on rumors that Microsoft is thinking about acquiring RIM. CB's Michaluk puts the proper amount of skepticism in and I'm pretty sure it's not just fear of the Microsoft monster causing him to go into denial. It really is a silly rumor:

Steve Sachs, head of trading at Rydex Investments in Rockville, Maryland told Bloomberg, "We're hearing the same rumor everyone else is, the Microsoft and RIM rumor. I can't even count the number of times we've heard that over the last three years."

Microsoft has also recently been rumored to be thinking about buying Yahoo. Listen people: Microsoft already has a darn good mobile services solution and they're making some strides in online services (confusing branding aside). I know it's hard to believe about the "beast from Redmond," but sometimes Microsoft just likes to straight-up compete in the marketplace, okay?

Read: Traders Say Rumors Say Microsoft May Acquire RIM | CrackBerry.com

Anyhow, if you're one of those dirty crackberry users, head on over and say hi to our new buddies, they're good people aside from the fact that they seem to prefer Blackberrys. Blackberries. Whatever it is.

Update: Your truly suspects that some clueless wall street denizen must've heard something about Microsoft and RIM playing nice so that RIM could more easily develop their "Virtual Blackberry" software designed to sit on top of Windows Mobile. Just my guess, but it's a good one, no?

RIM Announces "Virtual Blackberry" Software for WM6

The "announces" in the title is industry code for "It's not available yet." But later this year RIM is going to release software for Windows Mobile devices that give them Blackberry capabilities. More than the already-available (for some devices) Blackberry Connect software, the new stuff will actually make your WM6 device into a virtual Blackberry, interface and all. PC World writes:

The software will appear as an icon on the screen of a smartphone and will have the same interface as a BlackBerry. Users will be able to toggle between the Windows Mobile and BlackBerry interfaces, the company said.

Sadly, more details aren't yet available, but USA Today offers this tidbit:

RIM said it was unknown whether there would be a charge to download the software, or if it might come free with a subscription to BlackBerry service, [...] Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-chief executive, said the company's corporate clients made it clear that they would prefer to standardize around a single mobile e-mail platform, but not be confined to BlackBerry devices, "which seemingly was a paradox."

It's not a "paradox" to me. With slim and sexy handsets getting made for Windows Mobile seemingly day, it's easy to imagine. What is a paradox to me is why they're going through the effort of making an entire interface rather than using what WM already has. Now, I know a few people who dislike WM's interface, but is it so bad that it needs to get replaced? With the Blackberry interface?

Also, has anybody told these executives that, ah, they probably already have an Exchange server that supports push email with no extra fees? Or that RIM's email sometimes, er, fails completely?

RIM Backdating Shuffle - Nothing To See Here

The Blackberry is probably Microsoft's main competitor in the smartphone space -- but when it comes to corporate size doesn't hold a candle to MS (really, does anybody?). So when the stock option backdating brouhaha that's been sweeping the nation (er, nations, as RIM's based in Canada) hit RIM, analysts expected it would cause some headaches. Apparently that's not the case, though. I guess the scandal that hits everybody is the scandal that doesn't destroy anybody. Anyhow, the chairman is stepping down (but still the CEO) and RIM changed their report on the financial hit to what analysts were originally expecting (up from where it was before).

What does it mean for us WM folks - looks like "not much."

And now here we are: a $250 million restatement, with Jim Balsillie relinquishing his role as chairman (he stays on as CEO) now that he's been directly implicated in personally choosing favorable dates for back-dated options. CFO Dennis Kavelman, also implicated, will be transferred out of that role and into his new position as Chief Operating Officer.
If there is a surprise, it's that shareholders aren't reacting more negatively to the news.

The linked article also references the plethora of Palm buyout rumors that have been circulating for the past couple of weeks. I still think Palm's going to fight that off, but as a thorough reading of this post would surely reveal, I am not a financial analyst.

Read: RIM vs. Palm: The Battle for the Smartphone

RIM and Samsung Settle "BlackJack" suit

RIM sued Samsung because they called their new smartphone BlackJack and, you know, people might get it confused with BlackBerry. Now they've settled, apparently. I thought the suit was pretty darn silly myself - nobody gets to use the word "Black" anymore? - but apparently Samsung did not. Sometimes it's easier to just get the lawsuit out of the way rather than fight the good fight. Me, I like a good fight, oh well. The terms of the settlement are confidential (though some folks have noticed that RIM wants to spell "BlackJack" with a lower-cased 'j' now), so who knows what Samsung gave to RIM. Let's hope it wasn't much.

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said in a statement that the settlement of the lawsuit it filed in December includes "immediate provisions for the protection of RIM's valuable trademarks," but that the companies had agreed to keep specific terms of the deal confidential.

Read: BlackBerry Maker Reaches Settlement With BlackJack Maker

RIM Sues Samsung over Blackjack

Maybe RIM has a point when they claim that people would get the Samsung Blackjack confused with the Blackberry, but it's a stretch. I'd also like to think that after all their problems with litigation in the past, RIM might be a little more forgiving than most companies. I suppose not.

Also in danger of getting sued: Black Keys, Black Mamba, and Black Panthers.

Research in Motion (RIM) has sued Samsung Telecommunications America, claiming that Samsung's BlackJack smart phone violates the BlackBerry trademark.
RIM is asking that Samsung be stopped from selling the BlackJack and Black Carbon mobile phones and is seeking unspecified damages, according to court filings. The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
"Samsung is misleading the public into falsely believing that Samsung's goods and services are connected with RIM's business," the filing states.

Read: Today @ PC World RIM Sues Samsung over BlackJack Phone Name