If Amazon is going to buy a mobile platform, do you think it should be webOS or BlackBerry?

By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Sep 2011 01:23 pm EDT


Amazon made a big splash this week in the tech world with their announcement of the Kindle Fire.  The hardware looks practically identical to a BlackBerry PlayBook, running an Android OS that's been dumbed down to deliver a "content consumption" experience with a dirt cheap starting price of $199 (I preordered a Kindle Fire - will do a PlayBook head to head as soon as it arrives). 

The week isn't over, and again Amazon is making headlines, this time via a VentureBeat rumor that Amazon is in talks to pick up the webOS platform from HP, who is looking to do something with it (they already stopped making webOS devices).

Earlier in the week I saw some reader comments/forum posts here on CrackBerry following the Kindle Fire announcement saying that Amazon should just buy RIM already. I'm not going to put together a 10 Reasons why Amazon should buy Research In Motion post on this (I almost got shot by you guys when I suggested Google buy RIM), so this time around I figured I would toss the idea out there to see what the CrackBerry community thinks.

Obviously I want to see the RIMPIRE Strike Back on their own, but I can definitely see a few reasons why that sort of an acquisition by Amazon could mean good things for both companies.  I can also see some big reasons why it wouldn't work so well. Of course, webOS would be cheaper for Amazon to acquire than RIM, and over on our sibling site PreCentral.net, Derek pointed out the reasons as to why an Amazon acquistion of webOS could make sense. So that brings us to the...

Question of the Week: Assuming Amazon is going to acquire a mobile platform, should it be webOS or BlackBerry? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts and reasoning. Should be a fun one (and please, keep the commentary civil!).

Reader comments

If Amazon is going to buy a mobile platform, do you think it should be webOS or BlackBerry?


Truth can hurt sometimes, but there's no reason to keep your head in the sand. You don't have to want RIM to fail (I don't), but you shouldn't expect everything to be all about puppy dog kisses when RIM is having trouble.

Except for the stock bouncing in the near term I don't see any positive of RIM being acquired, name one company who can balance the enterprise and consumer side of things as RIM is doing it now? Cisco - no (enterprise only), IBM - no (enterprise only), Amazon - no (consumer focused only), Google - no (may be patents only), Microsoft - may be but not anymore. Then why the stupid talk, RIM had trouble in the last 2 quarters but that doesn't mean they are over and out, QNX is their chance to go on head to head in the consumer market and good lord they are still profitable.

I agree that Amazon is consumer focused and because of that RIM and the BB OS/QNX would not fit very well.

But you go a little far in believing that RIM has been able to "balance" both the "consumer" and "enterprise" markets.

Really don't see any benefit in Amazon leaving Android for webOS.

RIM bought QNX and I wouldn't consider them a failure at all. RIM being bought out by Nokia that would seriously hurt. Amazon buying RIM probably the best thing that could happen to them!!!

I agree. Web OS may be up for grabs, but Blackberry is not up for sale. They are not reporting losses at all, they are working on new QNX phones, expanding Playbook...how is Blackberry even to be considered as an option for takeover or selloff?

RIM is all about BlackBerry, and its not like RIM is about to collapse as a company.

If by the end of 2012 Playbook and QNX have underperformed, then yes you have a basis for this stype of speculation.
Till then, sorry Kevin, but this is crap.

My thoughts exactly!!! FAR TOO MUCH negative press on RIM lately. Everywhere you turn!!! Crap. Even from Crackevin!

I think we all need to just settle down for a bit and give Rim a chance in 2012 with their QNX phones and further PlayBook development. If they blow the QNX phones and flub the PB any further, then start talking about takeovers/sales.

If RIM screws up the QNX phones and Playbook 2 it will be too late for them to turn things around. The damage will be done, and their image further tarnished. The better indicator will be what they have to show in October, and how they can improve those for next May. If the bloggers and bb lovers don't love it, it is time for new management that can hopefully make the changes needed for the QNX phones. The playbook's woes are the QNX phone's woes.

Don't you mean "when RIM screws up the QNX phones". I'm sorry to be critical, but even the new superpowered 9900 was screwed up when it was released with an inferior camera, less memory then existing phones, and no wi-fi hotspot capability although, to be fair, it is supposedly "coming soon" - the tag line that seems to be RIM's motto. Sad that "coming soon" never seems to come soon.

A Playbook 2? Good lord, they can't even get the first Playbook right and you think that there will be a Playbook 2? Dream on.

I was a huge RIM fan and have been willing to put up with alot from this company; I had the very first model of a Blackberry phone and have never used any other brand.

But given their past behaviour, particularly this past year with the Playbook, I'd have to say that it is highly unlikely anyone would want to buy anything from RIM.

It's not a matter of "if their image becomes tarnished" - it already is. RIM is openly laughed at due to their mismanagement.

I speculate that we are literally within the month in which RIM sinks or swims when it comes to QNX; the Playbook; and QNX phones. DevCom has to be spectacular with news and releases that occur that very day - not some comming soon in the distant summer with an unspecified time. We will see what happens. Sadly, history is an excellent predictor of the future. And RIM's history isn't exactly good.

This is the biggest bunch of BS I have read in a while. Inferior camera? Really? Yes, no autofocus but DOF focus. If pictures are really that important to you, then why would you rely on a phone to be your camera.

Not get the first PlayBook right? Now I admit it needs a few programs to complete it, but the hardware is excellent and the QNX software is tops.

Wifi hot spot would be nice, but it seems that carriers are not that thrilled about them. It is my understanding that it is their, but carriers do not want it implemented.

I own the 9900. The camera is the fastest I've seen. The combination of the trackpad, keyboard, and touchscreen make it the most productive smartphone I've ever used. RIM is back. Just not everyone realizes it yet.

It's not an easy black and white world, can amazon afford to buy RIM or WebOS? Yes Amazon is successful, but WebOS is the platform that is up for sale by a company that only cared about patents, so that's dumb. Sure they can buy WebOS, but we won't see a WebOS Kindle or whatever amazon would call it. Amazon would be redoing it in their style, anyways good luck to Amazon, and i love my playbook. Lets get that going. :)

Seriously Kevin, I understood the Google post, but you are reaching now. I see no viable reason a retail store should buy a mobile platform. Is your next post going to be "Does anyone think Walmart buying RIM is a good idea?"

Hmm.. Wal-Mart buying RIM... I like it.  Or maybe Facebook should? Cisco anybody?

You guys are too funny. 

I want RIM to rock things out on their own. The point here was discussion. if AMAZON is truly looking to buy webOS, which is the premise of this story based on the rumor today, that means they're truly looking to buy mobile platform.  There are two mobile platforms that would be most affordable to acquire today.. webOS and BlackBerry. So why wouldn't we have this discussion here, today?

Next week I'll do a post with my take on the things RIM is/should be doing to ensure they will bounce back on their own.  I like looking at things from every angle... those who can't can just scroll down to the next story.


Hey Kevin,

I hope you get to see this... Don't stop with all of your ideas outside-of-the box regardless of what others say. Some don't have or exercise that ability (I guess). Rock on with the ideas, man! :D

Side note - I picked up a 16GB PlayBook this week at Staples for $249 after rebates. Apparently, they had an additional $50 in-store discount. Unfortunately, it wasn't applicable for either the 32GB or the 64GB which needed to be purchased online.

I've wanted one ever since they were announced and waiting has paid off. It's going to be the perfect companion to my VZW Bold 9650!

Personal thanks to you for all you do! ;)

"those who can't can just scroll down to the next story."

Can you just put that as a subtitle for every story you guys post here. People seem to forget that they can skip and article and move on to the next one.

Then I again say I see no viable reason a retailer would buy any mobile platform. The cost alone of maintaining and enhancing the platform seems like way more overhead than what a retailer would want.

RIM-Mart is brilliant! As a Wal Mart employee we use BlackBerrys as our communication tools for the field associates that are on the go such as Market Managers and Regional General Managers. Love it! Long live th RIMpire :)

With proper support webOS is a nice platform with some great features. The HP Touch pad just needed a few more things and it would have been an awesome tab, mainly a rear camera for my use. With Amazon they could probobly get the eco system support to help it thrive. I am also a former Palm user so it is a little close to my heart. WebOS was great but their phone hardware wasn't as good.

I don't know about being bought by, but they desperately need to partner with Amazon to be a content provider. RIM will never have an equivalent media catalog as iTunes or even Microsoft has and will be expanding with XBox. RIM really needs content and Amazon has it. Especially considering how open Amazon has been in the past to distribute their content on all types of devices, RIM should work their butts off trying to get as much Amazon content on the BBs and PBs.

everybodys gonna chew their tongues when RIM bounces back....when u reinvent yourself u go through a down period.... look at the caterpillar it doesnt just just becomes a butterfly over night rim isnt playing all its card for the competition and with the cards theyve showed already dont be surprised if they come back hard.... just like apple did before the ipod.......bbm music, 2.0, blackberry movies ... all yall saying rim is a dying breed...just remember when people said the same thing about the multi colored half bitten apple macintosh....

The butterfly analogy was a bit much (lol) but I totally agree with what your saying. RIM is still transitioning from being branded solely as a business device. Success of QNX 2.0, recent mgmt changes, and, yes, more time will bring BB back to the top. We don't need no stinkin' Amazon!

the butterfly analogy is perfect because a butterfly is not born with wings its born as a worm yes it would be nice to be born with wings but its a process.. just like the playbook.. the playbook was born like it was and i believe they didnt release it with the bells and whistles because what would be the buzz now if it had everything from day 1....and how do you get the security stamp if it has all the on board stuff RIM is still business first... now that its gotten all the security stamps it wants it can please the consumer

I think it add to what RIM is trying to with BBMusic, Movies, Android Market and Cloud services, as Amazon already has these things in place. Plus, people would FINALLY get Kindle for Playbook!

WebOS, easliy.

RIM/QNX wouldnt even be in the running.
webOS is a much more developed and consumer ready OS. Rim has focused too much on the business side it would take a lot longer (not to mention more money) to bring QNX up to webos' level for market Amazon is after.
lets us not forget that webOS still has more apps than QNX and Amazon will be able to do an Android player to run their own amazon app store similar to what RIM is planning with QNX.

I don't see Amazon entering the phone market though, but i hope they do.
Amazon media, movies, books, music, streaming combined with webOS native apps and intuitive interface with an android player running Amazons own app store. I'm drooling already. I hope this rumor is true!

You bring up a good point about the Amazon App Store. But I think you underestimate the difficulty with creating an "Android Player" on another OS. As I understand it, it's the very nature of QNX that makes the Android Player possible, in the sense that the way that the QNX OS is built allows for this capability (to work seamlessly, anyway). If Amazon were to acquire WebOS and attempt to pull a RIMjob (*cue snickers*) on the Android Player, they'd be spending a lot of time and resources on it...

For that reason I doubt Amazon would do much with the WebOS other than to use its patents; it just seems more work for them and they seem comfortable enough with Android as it is.

Why would they buy either?
The Android OS is cheap and versatile, they have their own Android App store already.

Porting BB or Web OS just seems like a lot of work for not much benefit.

Patents, that's why. Everyone wants webOS for the patents, not the OS itself. Look at all the Android phone makers that have to pay Microsoft for every Android phone they sell.

WebOS, more flexible. RIM should be able to remain alive if the QNX plateform is more friendly (activesync, easy for Devs, Android apps) etc...

I'd hope WebOS. I doubt Amazon would pick up RIM anyways. RIM would be too much too fast for a newcommer to the smartphone business. A bazillion countries and a gazillion carriers with specific expectations. With WebOS they can really shape it into their own, it really doesn't have it's own persona already (at least not with ANY one I've ever met) so re-branding would be far less painful.

Honestly, I think RIM should by WebOS. They are similar and since WebOS is ready to be put on phones now, they can use that template to polish up QNX and get it onto phones and out to consumers faster.

Here is something a little off subject...

What if RIM joined with HTC to make a QNX phone concept?

RIM has been forced to "elevate" with the times...and because of it BB fan's will be well pleased..it's all coming together now!

They should buy webOS. I only feel that way because I've always had a soft spot for Palm.

And HTC or Samsung should buy RIM. Someone needs to compete with GoogleRola

Only cool reason is the integration of amazon it would have. I love their stuff. Kindle, music store, amazon.com, amazon cloud. But do not want either way

I am thinking of doing some thing silly, going out and buying a PlayBook when I have a HP Mini and Nook. Why? Because the BlackBerry user experience is that much better. I wish I had a billion invest able dollars to buy RIM stock with. New World Order politics aside RIM will be in a position to compete with Apple and Microsoft on a large scale in a few years. They are not going broke any time soon and have the time to think strategically. QNX looks to be a serious operating system and a very astute asset purchase by RIM. RIM already has a slick consumer operating system in the PlayBook, applications will come along with a little time. It's not a big jump to go to desktop systems and servers for QNX. How about a RIM box that does PBX, outlook back end, and BES for small business? Partner with Fujitsu and use QNX for big iron? If RIM sells out it is for political reasons not economic.

Since the question states the assumption that Amazon IS going to acquire one of them, I would much rather prefer the huge resources of Amazon to be in support of RIM/QNX by acquiring them instead of the alternative with them supporting webOS against RIM. I really hope that RIM turns it around and this time next year, it's all one great press release after another with everything that they are doing. That being said, it's going to take some very deep pockets to fight the Android/iOS battle.

Honestly, I think either would be good. I love amazon and so I think that RIM and Amazon MERGING would be good.

If they were bought by Amazon I would be okay with that too I just would still want it to stay true to BB (to some extent.)

I like webos and if they bought webos I would consider switching.

Supposedly the discussions are already taking place. The rumored price Amazon would pay for WebOS from HP comes in at under $2Billion. There is no way Amazon could pick-up BlackBerry for under $20Billion, even with RIMM shares at this low a level. Economically it makes more sense for them to have WebOS, and then leave behind Google Android. The changes Amazon have done to the user interface barely make it seem like Android at all, and that may be most of the appeal.


If that WSJ article link works, it paints a gloomy picture of Research In Motion. Rather than people continuing to focus on a buy-out, they should look at the cr*p that happened with marketing and their battles with Leo Burnett and 72 & Sunny ad agencies. RiM's head of marketing walked out due to differences with upper management. After reading this piece I want one or both of the coCEOs off the board, and hopefully out of the CEO position.

One needs only look at the internal video celebrating 70 million users, and look at the WSJ figures that most of those users are now consumers (not corporate), to see that RiM management just doesn't get it. It was a business device and phone in the past, and congratulations to the two coCEOs for that, but it is no longer a business only device. If all the coCEOs know how to do is address the corporate user segment, then move one or both of them aside and put someone in there with consumer focus.

I hope Carl Ichan is buying a large chunk of RIMM and then will push for Board and Management changes. Quite likely I will get behind his recommendations. RiM needs to change to become more consumer focused. Keep making the same great phones, avoid half finished product releases, and change the advertising and marketing.

Just so none misunderstand me, I want to see RiM succeed in the future. I don't like anything I have tried in the Android or iOS choices, though I did like the Palm Pre. So give one or both of those coDudes a nice golden parachute, and bring in someone to revive the company.

I generally like Amazon as a company, but there's something about the idea of them buying BB that just doesn't seem right in the way that I could see it more with Microsoft or Google. WebOS would probably sell dirt cheap right now for a great platform, so that makes more sense to me.

This site just did the internet equivalent of jumping the shark on tv. What an absurd question.

The thing that concerns me is that the founder and fearless leader of crackberry thinks that these might be good ideas.

All you douchebags bashing Kevin should shut up. The man has a right to explore possible future outcomes for RIM. Hey if your job was hanging by a thread wouldn't you be doing the same? Hey Kev, new website name crackazon.com? Just an idea.

Let me first say that I'm a proud BB owner but I've been a big advocate of Amazon either buying RIM or Amazon and RIM merging. A third eco-system needs to be setup to compete with Apple and Google. A combined Amazon-RIM venture is instantly competitive with both Google and Apple on the consumer side and a clear leader on the enterprise side. As I mentioned in a previous post, having a proprietary OS platform is critical for Amazon. QNX gives Amazon the ability to have a footprint in all kinds of devices - from mobile phones to home appliances to automobiles.
(giving them greater reach than either Google or Apple).

Amazon/RIM will easily be the "Platform" of choice for developers. Furthermore, Amazon is obviously not a hw leader (they are using the same Playbook hw for their tablet). Why not save the cost of trying to build/design hardware by using RIMs experience in that matter. For all that's been negatively said about RIM, hw design is typically not been the issue.

In my mind, the only way to "save" the BB platform is for RIM to be acquired. I think too much has happened, negatively, in the last 18 months for RIM in it's current makeup (strategy, management, marketing, ...) to turn it around on their own.

The way I see it, RIM and it's co-founders are very stubborn so either RIM is going to get back into the runnings with whatever OS they release in the future or they're going to run themselves right into the ground and out of business.... or maybe they'll just forever stay in the middle and be mediocre.

Amazon's best bet would be to forget Android and get webOS, it would be awesome.


I think the question you posed is an interesting one. Once I put thought into it, the answer is fairly obvious. webOS is on the sales block right now. With Apotheker gone, I think Whitman has every opportunity to sell it off and claim it as an example of prior leadership blunders. HP wants to be rid of it and that will ultimately lower the price they will receive for an acquisition. On top of that, I think the co-CEO's have shown just how difficult they are to deal with. With the number of criticisms that have been emerging about the executive structure at RIM, both co-CEO's seem to be very defensive in interviews and belligerent about allowing ANY changes to their chosen structure. I'm sure that they would insist on maintaining their executive roles if there was an acquisition. Bezos is such a market oriented and forward thinking leader that I cannot see him being able to work with them. This leads in to my other point.

Many people keep commenting about QNX and the potential it has. I fully agree that QNX has the ability and potential to "save the day". However, what it really comes down to is RIM's attention to detail, execution, and ability to deliver the product. Looking back on recent history for these factors is not kind to RIM. Take for example the 99XX line. If you are trying to deliver a clear signal about what the future is going to be with your flagship phone product, why would you choose not to build in an autofocus camera? The explanation I've heard is that the form factor wasn't thick enough to accomodate it. I'm sure the user base would have accepted a phone that was slightly thicker to get the autofocus feature. With the additional thickness, couldn't a slightly thicker battery been used as well maintaining the battery life Blackberrys are known for? I've also read criticisms about the battery life not being equal to the past and this would have been answered as well.

With the Playbook, another flagship product, how could you not put on an autofocus camera, a camera flash or a front facing camera? Granted these are small details but we've come to expect them in the marketplace today. Even pompous Apple caved in on the flash after 2 generations of phones that didn't have them. I love the Playbook and QNX. Yet, I'm constantly struck at the little details that were missed such as the browser not storing passwords, the tasks being unfilterable, and the inability to name your bookmarks.

I'll get off my soap box now. Thought you deserved better answers then some of the bashing you've taken in this comment thread.

In a world of RIGHT NOW. It takes a few moments to steer a ship in the right direction. It wasn't long ago when RIM had majority of the smart phone market.

I am not saying that they have been doing everything right but no company never makes mistakes. BlackBerry/RIM has something that others doesn't. A die hard/loyal customer base, a dedicated platform and hardware, and CASH.

It is the last thing that I mentioned that KEEPS a business GOING. CASH. If for a second, put your emotion aside and think from a business perspective. RIM has CASH, that's how they have been able to purchase QNX, TAT, "INSERT THE REST HERE".

BlackBerry is a proven product that has challenges but will once again gain grounds. Mark my words.

RIM blew through half their cash in one quarter....making a profit. When do you think this magical money tree will sprout more dough?

umm maybe im just using common sense here but wasn't the question which OS was to be bought? the question i read was "web OS or Blackberry", not "HP or R.I.M". where is all this selling RIM talk coming from? im lost.

to answer the actual question i'd say if amazon wanted to keep their customers they would be better off with web OS. blackberry OS isn't really consumer friendly at all in respect to the average amazon customer.

WebOS is a dead platform that Amazon could resurrect. They've tried to hide the Android 2.2 in the Fire as much as possible, so it would make sense to just build their UI on top of something they would have full control over.. RIM isn't on the market and it would take some extraordinary steps to push it to that point.

Don't forget, RIM is still profitable and still expanding. They just made a profit that was a few cents short of what some stock analysts guessed...