RIM’s market share, mind share and stock market shares plummeted last year. Do its raft of CES 2012 announcements herald a comeback? Not likely…
1 Tie me up, tie me down
Tethering came to Android phones with the arrival of the 2.2 version of the OS. That, lest you forget, was back in May 2010. And it’s been an option for iPhone users since iOS 4.3 hit back iPhones back in May 2011.
So you’ll forgive tech watchers if they don’t combust with excitement that the arrival of BlackBerry 7.1 finally means that owners of the fruity phones can use their handsets as portable Wi-Fi hotspots to get online with other mobile internet-enabled devices.
Retailers are likely to be even less excited with the fact that the new, sexy feature they’ve got to use to sell the phones to customers is as old as Noah.
And networks, whose approach to tethering has been largely hostile, are going to be even less enamoured with it. If RIM was expecting a sales spike as a result of this minor-key, niche-interest addition, it's going to be very disappointed.
The QNX 2.0 OS update for the PlayBook means that the slate finally offers native email support. It also adds compatibility with Android apps, massively swelling the range of titles on offer for a device where applications are very thin on the ground.
So that’s WIN, right? Hmm. Not so much. As with tethering for BB smartphones, this is too little, too late.
Had those improvements been present and correct from the get-go when the PlayBook launched back in April, it might have found the audience many had tipped for it and not ended up in tech remainder bins across the globe.
And before you get too excited, it’s important to remember that RIM showed off a test version of the OS at CES, with the real deal purportedly due next month.
Given that QNX phones have already been delayed until later this year, frankly we’re not holding our breath that RIM will be able to deliver.
3 So near, yet so far
RIM’s other major announcement was enhanced Near Field Communications (NFC) tech. You’ll now be able to use a BlackBerry to swap info and files and send a friend invite to BBM by tapping it against another RIM phone.
It’s a pretty attention-grabbing feature and shows RIM isn’t too far behind the pack, after something similar landed late last year with Ice Cream Sandwich on Android.
The downside is that NFC – even in its rudimentary, primary use as a means of paying for goods and services by swiping a phone over a reader - has yet to get any kind of foothold in most of the globe. So this little extra sweetener isn’t going to sway any floating voter BlackBerry buyers to invest their hard-earned in a new handset.