Why RIM Should buy Palm

Recently I ‘ve been working on an application for the Blackberry.   Since I”m now in a position to compare Android vs. Blackberry development I’ve concluded that Blackberry development platform is a terrible thing to develop on.  And I’m not the only one.  To say that the platform is “not developer friendly” is an understatement.  Their Eclipse plugin’s Internet update/installation functionality appears to have been down for at least several months.  I’ll spare you the many struggles I’ve had creating an app,  like fishing stories, they are only of interest to the participant.

The business person in me would say that RIM has under invested in their software development platform.  And in a sense, its easy to understand why.  Until recently, hardly anyone installed software that didn’t come installed on the phone.  In part because it was difficult and in part because they didn’t know it was available.  In that market, the defining features of the phone where either hardware or software shipped with the phone (e.g Blackberry’s “Push” email).

But Apple changed the game.  Now RIM has to decide how they are going to deal with a market increasingly influenced by software that is installed after the phone is purchased.  They’ve opened an app store, but without an easy to use development platform, the cost to third party developers will be higher than for other platforms.  The result being RIM will find it difficult to attract many third parties.

Palm on the other hand, has a shiny new OS that has the reputation of being easy to develop on, but little financial or market where with all to launch multiple hardware form factors (clearly one of RIM’s strong points).   A combined company would have both the ability to differentiate phones based on physical features (e.g. touch screen, wifi) and offer a compelling software development platform for third parties.

Of course, one of the CEOs seems more interested in buying a hockey team.

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