Posts Tagged ‘HP’
Rumors about who will buy webOS from HP have been floating around for a couple of months now, including a recent surge in buzz as HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman ponders how to deal the whole Palm mess she inherited. One of the potential buyers that has gotten lots of attention is Amazon (main story here). Why not? After all Amazon has now emerged as one of the most significant threats to Apple and its ecosystem. Although this threat has been brewing for some time, it only became obvious after Amazon’s recent launch of the Kindle Fire, a Tablet that is expected to split the market with the iPad and relegate all other contenders to “also rans.”
The Kindle Fire relies on Google’s Android operating system and the prevailing argument in the blogosphere is that Amazon needs webOS to differentiate:
“By purchasing the remnants of Palm, Amazon would have free rein to redesign webOS to its own liking, and it would be able to further differentiate its Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets in the market” (from the story referenced above).
A cursory analysis of both companies (see table below) seems to support this argument. Amazon has all the pieces in place to pose a credible threat to Apple, except for the ability to differentiate at the OS level.
When you buy a BlackBerry, why do you do it? Because you want to run many apps? Or because of RIM’s leading messaging applications and services?
In the era before the iPhone (aka “Bi“), this question did not matter as there were no viable alternatives. In fact, with hindsight, the notion of a smartphone to run many apps did not exist for most consumers. You bought a BlackBerry primarily for messaging and phone calls (maybe a couple extra apps, at best). However, in this new “Ai” era (after the iPhone), the situation is dramatically different. RIM has been incapable of defending its position as a smartphone platform against new entrants Apple and Google. And the situation can only get more difficult for RIM with the resurgence of Web OS under HP and of Windows Phone thanks to the recent Nokia deal. If RIM can’t compete in a 3 horse race, can it survive a 5 platform war?
By contrast, RIM has been very successful with its messaging and collaboration applications. RIM is the clear leader in Enterprise email, with others playing catch up. And in case you have not been paying attention, RIM has been able to build a very large base of consumer messaging users with its flagship BBM application especially in international markets. In fact, RIM’s troubles in North America are only being masked by its unprecedented growth of consumer messaging users internationally (for more on this, check out Mike Mace’s Tale of Two BlackBerries).
Should RIM continue to try to compete as a platform play? Or would RIM shareholders be better off if RIM focused on building its messaging franchise across more platforms?