Saturday, April 14, 2007

You go on vacation for a week...

Mobile is a super fast paced market. I have been in Hawaii for seven days enjoying sunsets with Mai Tai on my Lanai, and a million things happened (although they definitely did not ruin my vacation ;-) Let me try to recall some of the more important news.

After announcing it is opening some APIs, RIM came up short in the analyst call and the stock collapsed 8% in one day. The two news are not related but highlight the two main issues RIM is facing: first, RIM does not have a developer community (instead of opening some random APIs, why don't they go open source or, at least, help our community which is struggling to interact with the APIs they are filling with bugs to kill the competition?) and probably won't ever have it (while Microsoft and Linux do...). On the other side, they are trying desperately to move into the consumer space. Unfortunately, people are not buying enough BlackBerry Perl, which is their critical path to consumers. Therefore the forecast is bad and the stock value sinks. The Perl is not a consumer device. It is a cool replacement for older BlackBerries. Unfortunately, the iPhone is also a cool replacement for older BlackBerries, which makes their outlook even worst. Bottom line, RIM is not a consumer company and it is not likely to become one soon. They are likely to miss the train.

Quietly, SUN bought the IP of SavaJe, the maker of a 100%-Java mobile operating systems (the other one is RIM, if anybody noticed it). SavaJe died not-so quietly a few months ago, after burning a pile of cash ($120 millions...). SUN did not even announce how much it spent, because it was peanuts. What is really interesting is what SUN will do with it... After all, it is a hardware maker... If Apple was able to move from PC to iPod, SUN could move from servers to phones (the iSun ;-) Nah, looks too stretched. But it could mean a full mobile OS from Sun, licensed to device manufacturers. Or, at least, a lot more code in Java ME, including vertical apps, which would be great. Everything will be unveiled Apple-style at Java One in May. We'll be there with our Java ME open source push email client as well, so... another good reason not to miss the show...

In the meantime, Apple announced it will delay the shipment of OS X Leopard from June to October (that's four months...) because all the Apple QA people are testing the iPhone. I have the feeling they made the usual mistake of thinking "well, it is a small device, it won't require the same QA cycles of a server...". Oopss, it is actually the opposite. A small device, when it is a smartphone (a not a single purpose device as the iPod) requires way more QA cycles than a server. The sad reality of mobile. And they are using one single network (Cingular) and are not planning to allow developers to add applications, which cuts QA by 90%... Anyway, it also shows how much effort Apple is putting on this device. It simply cannot fail (but it might...).

Lastly, Palm announced they will have their own Mobile Linux OS. This is much better than saying "we sold the company because we have no idea what to do" (the current rumor) and answers a suggestion I made in this blog, summarized by Unstrung as:
Going with Mobile Linux, argues Capobianco in a recent blog post, would enable Palm to cut its ties to Good and to Microsoft, to solve its OS issues, and to go after the consumer market in a new and effective way. The alternative is continued stagnation and eventually acquisition.
So... one very good for Palm (it was about time... and it is probably too late as well), one good for Sun, one bad for Apple and one ugly for RIM.

A week is a long time in mobile...