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Keep innovation in motion

Some people want you to think that Canada’s hightech star, the company that invented the BlackBerry, is in deep trouble. The big bad bears on Wall Street smell blood, and they are clawing at Research In Motion, driving down the share price with bad news, so they can buy at the bottom of the market. Then there are the takeover artists, who argue RIM is doomed. Why prolong the pain, they say? Why not find a brighter future safe in the arms of IBM or Microsoft? Their goal is to buy at the bottom and drive up RIM’s share price so they can profit from a takeover bid.

For the past three months, we have witnessed some major attacks on Research In Motion. Are they justified? Well, no and yes.

Let’s get the “no” out of the way first. There’s still a lot of life left in RIM and its flagship Black-Berry product. Most people know RIM for its smartphones, sold by providers around the world. But the company’s real cash cow is its BlackBerry Enterpriser server. Businesses and organizations lease these boxes to give them complete control over corporate messaging services, with security second to none. RIM’s biggest client, the U.S. government, manages more than 600,000 Black-Berrys, and RIM revenue has passed the $20-billion mark.

RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie argues that in the rapidly growing smartphone universe, there is enough room for everybody. He says RIM has a lot of advantages, even with the emergence of great new devices from Apple and the Android.

One bright sign is RIM’s new PlayBook tablet, which has sold a healthy 500,000 units, and is now being launched around the world. Currently available tethered to your BlackBerry, it will soon be a stand-alone device. It has some nice advantages. It’s smaller than the iPad, so you can carry a Play-Book in your coat pocket. It has a real desktop-style interface, and the operating system is brand new, designed by Ottawa-based QNX, which RIM acquired in 2010.

Research In Motion is a steadyas-she-goes technology company, and founder Mike Lazaridis has been careful to keep innovating, and to make sure marketing stays in its proper place, segregated from R&D. This helps keep RIM’s products cutting edge, and not “dumbed down” by marketing.

Continue reading at the Ottawa Citizen

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