RIM may be launching a not-so-super superphone in early 2012 if the current specifications unearthed by Boy Genius Report and seconded by Jefferies & Co. hold true. However, analyst Jack Gold disagreed.
What defines a
in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), superphones are essentially code for newfangled smartphones
based on the company's QNX operating system, the well-regarded platform RIM
acquired last year to serve as the basis for its BlackBerry Playbook tablet.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have both said the superphones were intended to
compete with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) popular iPhone and the crop of handsets based on Google's
(NYSE:GOOG) Android operating system. Those top two platforms have blown past RIM's BlackBerry
in every way conceivable, which is evident in the declining market share of the BlackBerry
RIM has yet to
describe how its QNX handsets will be "super," though market watchers
expected handsets with big, bright touch-screens powered by 1GHz dual-core or
faster processors in keeping with the latest trends. Well, the first details to
emerge about the superphones suggest the devices RIM intends to release to challenge
those leading platforms may not be so super.
Boy Genius Report reported that RIM is currently testing a QNX-based
. However, this device, which is
expected to appear in the first quarter next year-or roughly six months from
now-employs only a single-core CPU. Multi-core CPUs will come in future phones,
according to the blog.
Moreover, Boy Genius Report noted that while RIM
on a version of the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) tailored for QNX to
support native email (something the PlayBook does not do), the Colt QNX
smartphone will launch without support for the BES.
This means no
native email or push capabilities. Moreover, companies that want to use
Microsoft Exchange email on the device must use Microsoft ActiveSync, which the
phone will support out-of-the-box.
& Co analyst Peter Misek had a similar take. He said Aug. 9 that his
channel checks did show RIM "was having issues with multi-core chipsets
and its BES/BIS infrastructure for QNX."
management has referred to their QNX phones as "superphones," but we
find these specs uncompelling," Misek wrote. "We see this as nothing
more than ditching features, functionality and performance in an attempt to
adhere to a Q1 launch commitment to carriers and partners."
analyst Jack Gold said he wasn't so concerned about the number of cores the
superphones' chips have, but about overall performance.
can't directly equate the number of cores on phones with their overall
performance, just as you can't in a PC," Gold told eWEEK.
"Yes, theoretically, multi-core performs better, but
not always. So the "cores-manship" like the GHz-manship is not the
only criteria of measurement."
important to note that the Colt is purportedly in the testing phase, and things
could very well change between now and its supposed Q1 2012 launch. Gold said
the Colt could be an engineering model that could be upgraded. Moreover, he noted that BlackBerry devices that RIM just announced
are dual-core and QNX already runs on multi-core, "so the OS is not an
all of BGR details are true, the Colt QNX phone would likely receive a tepid
reception, which would bring more damage to the company's diminished reputation
to keep up with Android and iPhone innovation.
That could be
disastrous for, not only RIM's positioning of superphones among consumers, but also
the company's enterprise market channel, RIM's bread and butter, Misek said. He
wrote: "We would become incrementally more bearish if RIM were to launch
an underpowered and non-BES/BIS-linked BlackBerry powered by QNX. We believe it
would harm consumer perceptions and would likely encourage enterprises to
seriously evaluate alternative solutions."
And if businesses
had to resort to using Microsoft's ActiveSync to support Microsoft Exchange email
on the QNX phone, Misek said this could lead to a permanent shift away from the
Yet Gold isn't
buying into the assumption that the first RIM superphone won't be email-compliant,
noting that RIM has promised to bring out a native email client for PlayBook in
the next couple of months.
there is a BES-complaint email client for PB, why would it not run on the QNX
phone? And if they do allow ActiveSync connectivity, that would not be a bad
thing, as many SMBs would rather bypass BES anyway and go direct to Exchange.
So I see an either/or scenario with both BES and ActiveSync support as a
did acknowledge that RIM has to nail the superphones to succeed against iPhone
and Android. "A half-baked device will not do much to recapture their
market share, and will certainly diminish their credibility. But I believe
management knows this very well, and I don't believe they will make that