BlackBerry 10: Building a Platform vs. Launching a Product

BlackBerry 10
By Adam Zeis on 3 Jul 2012 03:35 pm EDT

Watching the interview earlier today with Andrew MacLeod, Managing Director for RIM Canada, there was a point at which he said "...the market's very focused on the first products. For us, it's a platform for mobile computing, and that's really the core objective of the company because that's going to define our future." What he's doing here is essentially reminding us that there is a difference between the BlackBerry 10 platform and the BlackBerry 10 product (phones/tablets).

While we all sit patiently and wait for the first BlackBerry 10 phones to come to market, RIM is hard at work perfecting not just their hardware, but also the BlackBerry 10 platform. The line that struck me most was this:

"Certainly it was not an easy decision to hold off on the launch of our new BlackBerry 10 platform, but for us it was critical that we get it right and we build a platform for the next ten years of RIM's growth.

What this says to me is that RIM is concerned more with the BlackBerry 10 platform as a whole -- wanting and needing it to be perfect out the door when it's launched. The platform itself is where the strong point will be - not in the first run of devices (although the first impression of these devices could make or break things as well). This is why there are unfortunate delays. Sure, we're all waiting on the BlackBerry 10 phones to be available, but RIM is essentially building a "ten year platform" for all of their devices. 

We wouldn't want to see another PlayBook launch where the device was released with sub-par software and only updated months later. We don't want a half-baked OS running on great hardware. Instead, RIM is making absolutely sure that the platform is where it needs to be at launch since that is what will carry RIM from here. 

BlackBerry 10 will ultimately tie into the QNX platform in various areas and be used in not just BlackBerry 10 phones, but also tablets, automotive and OEM products -- a bunch of places QNX is already (or planned to be) in use in the real world. 

"Getting it right is more important than getting it out quickly."

This is really the message RIM is trying to convey through their "media day" today. They are going out to news outlets and letting them know where they are at and what they are ultimately working toward. I know it sucks because as consumers, all we really want are phones, but once the platform is ready we can hope for great things from BlackBerry 10. 

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry 10: Building a Platform vs. Launching a Product


Good stuff, I am glad that the RIM executives are facing the reality and keeping us informed. I am definitely going to continue waiting for that Qwerty version BB10 phone. That is if I can hold off on the sweetness of the full touch version :) my 9900 should hold me down til then.

In all honesty RIM should have been doing this a long time a ago; taking charge of the message, frequently and forcefully.
No matter how bad things are, fiction has been peddled as fact for too long, besides we all do not trust inaccessible executives.

Its important to understand that BlackBerry 10 is not just another device or smart phone. It's a BRAND NEW OS.

Everyone is saying "isnt it too late?" - NO.

How can you be late when you are starting another race? BlackBerry did it in early 2000's and BlackBerry 10 is going to start another one. Where others will HAVE to follow.

BlackBerry 10 is not chasing iOS or Andriod. It's reinventing the smart phone. So, no .. it's not to late.

Standing yet again on my soapbox.

The big factor here is relevance. Will BB10 be relevent by the time they get it out. They have shown their cards and everyone with a complete OS has seen them. The competition have LOADS of time to come up with a BB10 killer.

They need Sooner than better to remain relevent in this industry. Half baked is bad... but how about 90% done?

They cannot afford to miss out on the best two selling "seasons": back to school and Christmas. In doing so, a delay until Jan-Mar will cause traction issues. That is something they cannot afford. Ideally they should release BEFORE the iPhone5, before the consumers money is already spent on the next cool thing.

Sure some people are dedicated and will wait for their brand... but it's the majority of the consumers who RIM needs to snag.

"They have shown their cards and everyone with a complete OS has seen them. The competition have LOADS of time to come up with a BB10 killer."

Actually, they haven't shown all there cards. If you watch, they purposely show only a few items as teasers but have not shown all.

Thorsten has made it clear previously that they will not go into details of there products.

Granted, They may still have a couple cards in the hole. But the essence of what BB10 is, has been put on display for everyone to see.
There may be a few particular details they left out (purposefully or because they dont even have them ready yet to show, is up for arguement), but we have seen the flow, fit and finish of what they are trying to accomplish.

Lets not even talk about 1 year old hardware by the time they get something out... Sure, only really important to the techies of the bunch, but those techies give recommendations to the non-techies lol.. I know from experience...

Sure it's the "platform" they are trying to finish and promote.. but it's the devices they need to sell to consumers.

When it comes down to it, not too many people care about the potential of BB10. it is awesome and powerful, i agree. But all that awesomeness will be wasted if noone is paying attention because of their new awesome iphone/android/windows phone they just got.

They may have shown BB10 but if android or iOS try the live app approach I can guarantee you they will either see huge battery drain without apis that take this into consideration or a lot of lag. The core OS that BB10 runs on is not easy to replicate with iOS or android. It would require immense work. It is possible but it is not something Apple or Google will try. BB10 will be different and RIM made a good choice shipping an OS with huge resource use potential because soon we will see no productivity benefits on iOS and Android devices with increased cpu power but BB10 can and will continue to benefit from the additional cpu power for a long time to come. They really do have a platform for the future and I might even argue that had they released a product based on multitasking a year before the playbook the hardware would have failed miserably. They should have however worked on the code earlier. Would help a little right about now... They could have also released something like BBOS7 earlier. Oh well, we will see what the consequences are next year.

The next iphone will be (yawn ) more of the same. Android? Who cares? It won't show up on your device. Windows? Is there a more tarnished brand than Windows?
If the world is waiting for the next big thing, we know one thing : it ain't out there.
Why do you think we are invested in BB X?
It is the next big thing.
Doubt if you dare.
BlackBerry : We invented the Smartphone Business.
We're takin it back!

You know, I can understand the importance of the back-to-school season, since I'm sure many students get new handsets before school.

But in North America is Christmas really a big buying season for handsets? Most of us here get handsets with carrier subsidies, don't we? I don't think I know anyone who's ever gotten a phone as a Christmas gift...

The carrier I work for sold thousands of iPhones before Christmas. It is prime shopping season and people do give devices as Christmas gifts.

Here's how I see it:
They will miss the back to school, they will miss the holidays. But the will be prime time for the tax return season. And that when most of us do out next big shopping spree. :)

Let's just hope that they don't repeat their mistakes from the late 2000`s and rely on bb10 for the next decade without progressing like the other operating systems.

I hope that they redo App World too. Better categories and searching for apps by device is required - if I have to set that as a preference by default to my account, so be it. It gets frustrating when more and more returns come back for the Playbook which I do not own. This is something EASY to do in the downtime until launch and is needed!

It's all talk and hot-air until they launch an actual product.

This morning's PR efforts have been fluffed because Heins got caught out in a classic error that could have been avoided if he had a bit more media training - if you get asked a negative question, you never repeat it in the answer because that is what the reporter is looking for to generate a good headline - so when asked if your company is in a death spiral, you should not use the words 'death spiral' in your answer - Heins fell into that trap.

The headlines whizzing around the world are not "RIM innovates with new platform" but "RIM denies death spiral".

RIM needs better PR people to watch out for that sort of trap and better guide the CEO.

I know I'm not your typical consumer, but I would much rather hear a CEO talk like a normal person than a trained robot. Sure, your analysis is probably correct, but I liked his answer better than some robotic avoidance of the question.

Anyways, the media would have that same biased headline no matter at he said or how he answered...

Heins actually presents very well. If you hear him speak he's very engaging and seems to have a very realistic sense of the challenges RIM faces.

The trouble is, he lets little messaging errors like this slip by, and THAT'S what gets the headline.

Which they will.
But the fact remains :
The fault is not his.
The fault is that America no longer knows what ethical journalism is.
The robbery of context
Is the theft of meaning.

Loving the leadership and assurance being offered. This would never have happened with the old regime. I have tried other devices and nothing beats my BlackBerry / PB COMBO ..... Even though the delay sucks, I was happy to wait to see bb10, now that Thor has the foresight to mobilise the troops in light of these difficulties, I have a new respect for him and remain faithful to my RIM.

But who's to say they will "get it right" with an extra few months of development? My guess is that they delayed so that they can release a "passable" platform. They'll need another two years to really get it right and by then, they'll be behind again. At this point, we have no reason to trust anything RIM say's. The proof is in the pudding, and hopefully, they'll surprise us.

BerryPotter, your guess is as good as anyone's. Although we don't have much to go on to say that it will be the future, we have evidence that the half baked product release is a thing of the past. Point in case the release of bb10. I'm not going to fish for a debate since neither one of us have evidence of our argument but I will say that there is no other platform that has my attention so I for one will wait in anticipation of a wonderful product. I was highly disappointed with the release of the playbook and how it was half baked. They didn't do that this time so I'm excited to see what comes next

"...and we build a platform for the next ten years of RIM's growth."

There have been two major hints, that I know of, (the car integration and airport testing) that RIM and the BB mobile brand is taking their system to a greater integration of global networks that is beyond mere mobile phones and tablets. It is possible (and now seems most likely) that the BB10 platform is developed as a system that is much more than what we are expecting - a far reaching OS. It could be the BB10 platform itself, or BB10 is set up as a major stepping stone for that ultimate goal. This could explain why BB10 has become such a complicated and sophisticate system for RIM to initiate - and thus the delay.

Makes me interested in seeing BB10 and what secrets it holds.

I was also thinking and asking questions along the same lines as your post. I wonder how big of an undertaking they are actually trying to achieve.

Software and hardware go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. I get a feeling Research in Motion is not being totally up front with us, and hardware is also not close to being ready. Plus they have to line up their relationship with carriers, some of which may not be keen on offering BB10 devices in the spring (can't believe we're talking about Spring, lol)

Bunch of damage control articles/press releases for RIM and Crackberry is all we'll see for a while. I'm waiting till BB10 regardless but for the sake of the company, I would rather have seen a BB10 released before Christmas with an update in January 2013 rather than see RIM miss the Christmas season and see people jump ship to other platforms. Another thing, having BB Jam or BB World or whatever it was when they previewed BB10 was ridiculous in the fact that it should be closer to when their products are going to be released.

Anyways, like I said, I'll wait regardless because I love BB and need a nice physical keyboard device.


It is not just a new platform...... Its like a whole new ecosystem and they have to make sure EVERYTHING works. Store, BBM, music, video, podcast, keyboards, videochat, multitasking. Everyone talks about the competition, look at icloud and google play. Android and ios have product integration. Samsung tablets and phones talk to samsung tv. RIM cant afford to be 90% RIM need to knock this f**ker clean out of the park.

Can they do it?


These interviews are a start, keep communication with us and we will get there.

For a long time folks derided RIM's OS as cumbersome or antiquated, and complained each new version was nothing more than an incremental update. But each new version also garnered all the top security approvals from government agencies.

Is there value in bringing a product to market in time for "the big shopping seasons?" Of course. But not everyone - meaning every manufacturer - marches to that drum alone.

In these days of countless Android devices and quite-regularly-scheduled iPhone releases (ahem, "incremental updates" anyone?), it is easy for many observers to proclaim that even a moment's delay means a company's death.

RIM certainly hasn't helped itself in this regard. Release dates have always been fuzzy, and almost always slip. So in one sense no one should be surprised that hey, that hasn't changed.

But the doom-and-gloom reports fail to appreciate exactly what RIM's executives are explaining right now - this isn't about getting something shiny into everyone's hands (that angle is covered). It's about getting it right. Maybe so RIM won't face the same challenges with "staying relevant" for the long-term? And perhaps to continue their outstanding record of conforming to security standards?

Leadership with foresight...quite a concept.

i am patrick jackson, i have been a supporter of blackberry (RIM) since 2005. i continue to support rim and stand by every choice they make. I'm a user of a torch 9810 and a 16 gb playbook my 3 one by the way lol. i feel that apple or android or even any phone manifacturer should put or even hope that rim fails. developers should be developing for rim faster then any other platform. my reason is because blackberry made emailing texting and instant message mobile. they made what cell phones are today with innovation and great phones. buisness people and others alike say rim cant compete bu i feel rim already does and they have succeeded. Rim has loyal customers who truly appreciate their devices and people who use the power of blackberry for everyday living to saving lives and even learning. crackberry has posted stories of people with disabilities using bb and people across the world using it when no other phone could work. rim has touched people like no other manufacturer could or ever will. rim will survive and make it through what is a tough time. i believe in rim and will support them when nobody else will but the loyal customers and crackberry.

I really hope something like Google Now is part of this new platform. That stuff is what a smart phone should be about!

I'm a huge Blackberry supporter. My first blackberry was the original mobitext clamshell version in 1997 and I've had a blackberry ever since then. But this talk of platform has me a little worried. If it doesn't have something like Google Now, then, well.. I just hope it includes that kind of Smart service and isn't just about communications channels (email, bbm, etc - as good as they are!).

(I think BB Travel is one of RIM's best apps. More like this please!)

RIM should come out fighting like this on a regular baisi...beat the media at their own game. Ibthink its great,
Pick 6 outlets abd hit them with quotes every few weeks, a unified message.

This sounds like exactly the same pablum we were fed regarding the massive Playbook 2.0 delay. They still didn't get it right.

What it boils down to in my opinion is can the RIM Board tolerate the "Shareholder value bottomline mentality" vs what is really starting a new company using a new platform by resturcturing the old company. Very difficult to do - it is not the normal evolution like what Apple has done.

They do need to be careful and focus on a couple devices (phones) and the tablet and not try to have such a complex hardware line they've had in the past. KISS principle.

Innovation can drive them back to being a major player.

Finally, some real clarity into the projected path of qnx. When they explain it as a 10 yr projected goal, I now believe that although initial release important to succeed, it seems more important for the maturation of the platform as a whole . This is great stuff cus it just proves Rim is also, in essence, is future proofing itself. If this works, qnx will push ahead of ios and android. The way I see it apps are still in its infancy as well. And like everything else will evolve in time. Apps will increase in complexity that will require better systems to run them, and true multitasking will come into its own. It's the natural progression of the growth of software. I can see this, and this is why I'm gonna buy more shares with Rim. I use ios and android devices but my bet will always be with blackberry.


This makes me feel better for waiting. If the iphone 5 was afordable I'd grab it just to try it out. But its not. And its the iphone 5 years old! This all new platform makes me curious, and I want to try it out asap!!!

I am not an analyst and am not a software engineer so I try to understand something here.

iOS = Unix based Mach/BSD Kernel same as Mac OS X.
Android = Linux Kernel.
WP = transition from Win Ce kernel in WP7 to Win NT kernel for the upcoming WP8.

So, now we have 3 platforms which is provided by giant software companies with proven track records. We could say that Apple is the most successful eco system at this moment for its iOS platform while its desktop eco system is growing. Microsoft has the most established eco system in its desktop platform while try to gain some traction for its mobile platform. Google has the second popular mobile platform while still building its cloud platform. Google's Android is considered to be the most competitive eco system to iOS while still lack traction in tablet arena.

webOS is history and will come back as open source.
Firefox OS will be launched in the coming q1 2013 and it will target the entry level of smartphone arena.

Thorsten Heins has ever said that BB10 will target its customer from existing people upgrading from BBOS 5,6,7 and new users from features phone. And up to now, he never mention anything about the RIM's strategy to compete with those 3 other existing platforms with their strong eco systems. And also what are the secret features and sauces that BB10 has, to beat those 3 current platforms.

BB10 = QNX kernel that will be a platform to compete with iOS' Unix, Android's Linux and WP's NT kernel as platforms with each of their eco systems.

I am just hoping that Thorsten and RIM's engineers plus Mike Lazaridis in the background are visionaries that could work tightly and seamlessly as a dream team which has a secret recipe and sauces as features in cooking future mobile computing platform ONLY while Apple has 3 platforms (desktop, mobile and cloud), Microsoft also has 3 platforms (desktop, mobile and cloud) and Google has 2 platforms (mobile and cloud). Do not forget that those 3 giants has very healthy financial income streams from some of its products such Apple from desktop and mobile platform, Microsoft from its desktop platform (windows and office) and Google is still the king of search ads. RIM's USD 2.2 bn cash will be gone if RIM could not turn its business around to be a profitable business.

I just worry that RIM will come out with BB10 platform and devices which are, of course, better than current BBOS but have not enough features to beat other 3 platforms or at least differentiate itself with a unique feature that other platforms do not have. And please do not rely on features such as LED notification, replaceable battery, different alert, ring tones and profiles, Scalado license, etc.

Again, I am truly waiting RIM to come up with something unique that is a truly innovation and could be one of the most admired platform in the future. It is good to have a competition that brings us a better technology in the future.

Let's see.

You are quite correct with alot of your assumption. And the big 3 are too big for Rim to go against, but like i have quoted before what Steve Jobs once said of Apple, "apple did not have to beat microsoft, apple has to remember who apple was". And so it goes the same with Rim. Rim lost its focus along the way somewhere. I think if Rim can seccessfully execute qnx, and gain some form of traction with comsumers, not alot, but enough to stay profitable the os can flourish and grow. With Rim popularity globally it will work. People here are probably gonna laugh at this but qnx, if seccussful, and morph into a desktop platform but with the added advantage of being power effecient.

The big three came and grew from a single entity to become what it is today. Even if Rim is relagated to become a niche product within the enterprise sector, it will still grow into the future. Regardless what the negative people say about Rim there are still alot of develpers who beleive in this company. Like i said before, people have developed a mob mentaily towards Rim, understanbly from the layoffs.

If Rim can execute qnx soundly, people will come to try it out, not the hardcore but the moderates and there are alot of them. Win those moderate over and you have traction in the comsumer market. When that happens, critical mass acceptence with build and Rim will live again and so will the stocks, but it will be a very long haul for Rim.


Finally some meaningful people with meaningful comments. Hope the trolls won't come here to.


yes, it's NOT just a hardware, it IS a PLATFORM. a PLATFORM which will change the game forever, like never before. BB10, prove to us that you've got what it takes to be the game changer, the most advanced and the best mobile PLATFORM ever made for years to come. HAIL BB10!

I think it would be good if RIM could say here is X that you will be able to do with BB10 that you can't do on any other platform. Although it would just be talk it would be exciting and maybe enough to keep me from getting a Win8 phone. Of course even if I get a win 8 phone I'll be more than happy to go back to BB10 if it proves great, I'd really just like them to say X rather than "I see it and I'm really excited" because that doesn't mean much.

I do beleive that RIM can produce a product that is as good as iOSbut right now I really think they have to make a product that is better than iOS, and noticeably better to survive and that is a very hard task.

They really do have to "leapfrog" the competition, but considering the guy who said that...

oh well, great article…. it could have been better if this statement was released instead giving us the false hope previously of LATE 2012. It's promising as he put it as a "10 YEAR PLATFORM" though.

I wonder what's the urge of getting "it done already". Is it so that people need new smartphones every 12 months as Apple has led us all to believe? Do we need to upgrade every year just because it's the "latest and greatest of them all"? Whatever happened to the good and durable products?
You think that RIM is going to die just because the don't release it's new OS ASAP? You think that changing your smartphone every year is the only thing we should do? The smartphone market is flooded with millions of smartphones and they all do same things. No innovation at all. Instead you get sold that having a "better screen" or a super faster processor is actually something so necessary you have to replace your old (and still working) phone with the new "improved" model.
There is actually no urgency of releasing BB10 ASAP, any way you look at it. RIM has the cash to stay at float a few years more. If RIM goes down sooner, it will not be because they lack the ability to succeed, but because of the stupidity of the mass market, that only wants to consume mindlessly just because they can.

Yemson's comment is excellent. I get fed up with reading comments from users that have less control over their lives, than they do about knowing what "we" want. Unless anyone commenting is an actual RIM employee, shut up about what "we" want. I, me, myself could care less about your device choice, your views about hardware and software, or any of the mindless whining rants, if you contribute in this platform in only ONE way - as a user. Notice how the theme builders, app designers, hybrid crafters, and the like have remained silent on the subject...WE contribute. Besides the P9981 owners, who of this "we want" crowd has actually paid for a phone? I love RIM's products. I've rebuilt my broken 8520 three times, and I'm about to replace the keyboard on my 9810 in a few, due to lost keys, but guess device does exactly as advertised. RIM doesn't have to "keep up", when they created the smartphone. Since when does a God have to meet the needs of a mortal, when everything that a mortal could need or want has already been provided.
Shoot the wheels off of the bandwagon abandoners, and all those loyal to a product remain that: loyal. So what if RIM falls. Won't stop me from enjoying my Playbook or Torch. When people ask me if I have an...dry heave..ipad, I appreciate their obvious ignorance. After I show them what a Playbook can do, from learning as much as I can about how it all works, I've changed a mind. Stop crying about what RIM can't do. What are you doing for RIM?

I think I would love it more if it looked better. The sharp edges of the widgets and the gaps in between them just look so poorly done but the functionality sounds great so far. I'm interested in getting my hands on one soon

Looks like I'm late here, but I would put in my 2 cents. The power of the QNX platform is to have each process run on it's own 'server' in the kernel, so micro-management is highly possible. If one such 'server' is not required, it can be shut down by the kernel, so the whole OS doesn't need to be configured.

QNX, because of the way it handles inter-process communication, provides for very accurate integration, even better than most Unix or Linux based inter-process communication.

In a nutshell, I would LOVE to wait for BB10, not only for it's integration, but for its efficiency. This is what BlackBerry always stood out for.

BlackBerry Curve 8520 | BlackBerry Torch 9810 |
Oh how I love the BlackBerry!! <3<3