Following last week’s Fortune Brainstorm event in Pasadena, CA, I got into an interesting 10-minute convo with a RIM executive. What were the topics of discussion? Apps, TelCo Reliability, iPhone and Hardware. This executive had the following to say: (this was not to be shared, but after numerous failed attempts to continue a conversation via email, I decided to post the main points of the convo. I will at least honor his anonymity)
While RIM has been trying to find a way to stay competitive, he admitted that Blackberry App World has not been a rocketing success in terms of app volume and developer popularity. “It’s tough when you are going up against a company operating one platform and perfecting a single piece of hardware”.
RIM is fortunate to have so many solid relationships with the best Telcos globally. “It’s been a strong advantage in the market, especially the US, to offer devices across more than just one network”. When I asked him about AT&T, he said that it hasn’t been near the nightmare for them that Apple has seen with the iPhone/AT&T.
iPhone is a great phone, but he thinks Blackberry will continue to have strong growth. “They’re different phones”. He specifically pointed out the heavy adoption rates for 18-25-year-olds this past year. “All of their friends are on BBM, and it’s addicting”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. In Los Angeles, I am still heavily outnumbered in my group of friends and 95% of them say they will never give up their Blackberry because of all their friends on BBM (Blackberry Messenger).
This is where things got interesting. I asked him what RIM planned to do if the iPhone were to have upgraded their hardware to include a front-facing camera. His response was “as I said before, we are fortunate to have our relationships with many different carriers, some of which can handle something like live video-conferencing”. In other words, he and his team weren’t worried about the iPhone launching front-facing video-chat so long as they are with AT&T. The last thing he said to me was “video conferencing is something that could completely change the mobile landscape and it is something we have been thinking about and working on for quite some time. You will start seeing something early next year”.