Sand is great when you're at the beach, but not so nice when you're burying your head in it. RIM's leadership must like the irritation, though, because they seem to be hell bent on ignoring the realities of the modern mobile market. Their recent decision to allow Android apps on the PlayBook sounds like a sane decision. But the actual execution proves that RIM has no idea what their customers really want.
"You've got the volume of the handset apps, so if you're looking for the tonnage of apps, or some kind of long tail stuff, you've got it."
RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, admitted openly that the only reason for this move was to throw a bone at the customers who make their platform decisions based on sheer volume of apps. The problem is...nobody does that. The App Store isn't popular because it has a huge number of applications. The quality, variety and utility of iOS apps is what draws consumer dollars.
And RIM doesn't give a damn about the quality or utility of their Android apps- quantity is all that matters. Balsillie admitted that the Android App Player isn't expected to work very smoothly, or all that well, on the PlayBook. And only Android 2.3 apps are supported. Since there are very few Honeycomb apps, this doesn't sound unreasonable. But things are much much less pleasant than they appear.
See, handset apps don't always translate well to the tablet form-factor. In fact, they usually don't. Which is why Samsung's 7" Galaxy Tab was less than a sales blockbuster. Apps meant for a 3.5"-4" display don't look very good at 7".
But PlayBook Android Apps will have the extra disadvantage of running on a virtual machine, which will further hamper their quality. So PlayBook users will have access to Android phone apps that don't work very well. RIM feels that a horde of low-quality apps will satisfy some great base of users that only cares about "tonnage".
They're wrong. And the coming months are going to make that abundantly clear. One good piece of hardware and a few half-cooked apps won't restore RIM's place at the top of the mobile market. And this latest bit of bungling is evidence that the once-mighty BlackBerry brand is headed for even deeper trouble.