By Greg Mills
RIM: RIM may take the "gang that can't shoot straight" title away from Microsoft and its CEO, Steve Ballmer. We are in day four of a rolling denial of service sort of thing where BlackBerrys won't send or receive email and surfing the web is faster with a dial-up connection.
RIM announced today that the problem was solved, but users in the US and other places indicate that it is not over for them. One issue is that even if you scale your servers to being able to handle double the normal traffic, four days' worth of stored email that has built up, with more being generated, represents a major electronic traffic jam that has RIM servers deeply buried in unsent data.
With most smartphones the carriers handle all the radio and net traffic and an outage with Sprint, for example, won't have any effect on AT&T, who is abundantly able to drop calls consistently on its own. Apple just builds the iPhones and sells them to the carriers. WIth RIM, all traffic on RIM devices is routed through encrypted servers in Canada and the UK and who knows where else. The problem is not with the local cellular carriers in the countries affected, but rather RIM's encrypted servers are bottling up the traffic and not passing it along.
Apparently, the main servers developed a cascading problem that got worse over time and the back-up servers failed to cut in to handle the load. RIM claims no data has been lost; it simply has not been delivered. BlackBerry users are worried and very angry. For RIM this couldn't come at more difficult time. The company is already bleeding customers to Apple's iPhone and even to Android phones.
RIM is struggling with a declining stock situation, shareholders in revolt, the PlayBook tablets are being soundly rejected by consumers and discounted by retailers, recent new BlackBerry phone models were all panned and now the RIM server network has dramatically failed. All of this just as the new Apple iPhone is selling like hotcakes around the world.
Samsung: Apple just won a continuation of the Australian injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 iPad competitor. Samsung has decided to forget launching the Tab in Australia as their Christmas sales plans are dashed. Apple hopes to extend the ban around the world as basic touch gestures used by Android are Apple's patented technology. Ironically, the ban may also stop all Android devices since they all infringe on a patent for touch screen gestures filed by Steve Jobs himself. The injunction is good until the situation goes to trial next year. That is so far ahead the current Galaxy Tabs will be obsolete by the time the trial comes around, even if Samsung eventually wins at trial. Apple wins one. (See http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/ .)
Android: A combination of legal actions by Apple, Oracle and even Microsoft against Android handset makers and Google directly, may slow down the Google Android platform rush. Apple continues to innovate and competitively market fast selling iOS devices. Apple wants to own the market for its mobile inventions, Oracle wants Java platform compliance and royalty money for the Java found in the Android OS, and Microsoft will take money but watches for an opening for Windows Mobile should Android stumble.
It turns out the Android OS is based on so much Java, taking the Java code out of Android or conforming to Java guidelines might actually kill the platform. It is amazing that Google figured they could skate on licensing Java from Oracle, a very expensive mistake indeed. Watch for news on that lawsuit as Oracle is likely to win and Google and Android are likely to lose, big time.
Sprint: Sprint stock is up a few cents today, but the underlying financials will certainly continue to beat them down and make sprint a takeover candidate. I still advocate an Apple takeover as being a very sound and timely move. I think Apple could supply the steady hand Sprint management needs to produce a workable business plan and stick to it. I am also convinced the beleaguered cellular network deserves all new staff from the janitors up.
That is Greg's Bite.