RIM is about to announce something huge, and it’s going to take the world by storm. At least that is according to co-CEO Jim Balsillie who, with the rest of his embattled BlackBerry team is going to announce the BBX Platform tomorrow at the keynote address at the BlackBerry DevCon Conference.
“We’ve leapfrogged everyone with what we’re announcing [on Tuesday] and you’re going to see it on display. We built an engine back in the mid-90s that served us incredibly well for 15 years, and in the past couple of years, we’ve had to build the engine of the future while still driving the engine we’ve got.”
The anticipation is high not only because of RIM’s fall from grace in recent months, but because just last week the company was dealt its biggest PR blow in nearly three years: for three days, service was interrupted in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and most of North and South America. What started out as a switching problem turned into a full-blown outage. Today, the company announced plans for restitution, a $100 app pack free to all BlackBerry users, regardless of whether they were affected by the outage.
BBX, which is expected to be based on the QNX platform that is used on the BlackBerry Playbook, is an industrial-strength OS that, before it was bought by RIM, was used by nuclear power plants, manufacturing facilities and oil rigs. The news couldn’t come at a better time, too: RIM’s share price has more than halved in the past six months, down from its high of $144 in mid-2008 to just $22 today. After the mild success of the Playbook, which has only sold 700,000 units to date, and the grudging welcome of the latest crop of BlackBerry phones, BBX is the company’s chance for greatness.
“Nobody wants success for this company and return to the shareholders, and nobody in this world wants it more than Mike [Lazaridis] and I,” Mr. Balsillie said.