Technology evolves all the time. Much of it goes on underneath the radar until there comes a point where commercial adoption patterns switch and money flows in a new direction. That flow is irresistible. That’s what happened in the mobile Internet. The market shifted to the iPhone first and the rest of the market is shifting to Android-based systems as an alternative.
Yes, it’s true that Research in Motion and Nokia were leaders in mobile phones before that happened, but it’s simply not true anymore. The market has moved underneath them.
And it’s clear that from the OS standpoint there are going to be two main ones, Apple iOS and Google Android. Android is going to get custom layers added to it by players like Motorola, so in time it will be hard to see the similarity in Android-based phones but for the fact that users will be able to tap the vast world of applications, content and solutions to meet their needs.
Both Research in Motion and Nokia are doing their best to respond but are sticking with what is called a walled garden approach. You can get in to develop applications and content but only on their own terms and for their increasingly-isolated markets. It’s not very attractive for any potential players in the ecosystem, including consumers.
People are voting with their feet. The shift to iPhone and Android is staggering. The idea that RIM or Nokia is going to launch some device that could even make a blip in that data curve is unlikely. So the die has been cast.
I’d say it’s impossible for a company like Nokia to think outside the box, let alone do something there. RIM, however, might be able to. Damning all the technology details and migration issues, if RIM simply issued a statement saying that they were going to migrate their proprietary email and messaging technologies for consumers and companies to run on top of the Android OS, their stock would shoot up dramatically.
All of a sudden RIM would be a very undervalued player in the Android-based smartphone market for investors. And they would have a shot at making the best (or at least one of the best) Android phone families out there.
I’m not sure RIM can do it but they might have a chance. I’ve spent hours talking to Nokia management and can only say: RIP Nokia.
[Disclosure: No positions in any stock mentioned.]