Let's be frank. The future is going to get more dangerous, electronically. Anyone who gets comfortable will find themselves vulnerable.
I am not someone who has dabbled in stocks at all. Ever. Not one dollar. So why would I have any merit writing on an investment site? Perhaps it is because I don't look at companies that way. I look at them from a standpoint of merit.
I am admittedly a Canadian. A proud one at that. Having taken my first step over to RIM at the time with a Storm II. I progressed to a Torch, then a Bold 9900, and now a Z10. I was close to moving in another direction, Windows based at that, when I hung back, even making that decision for my company, and stuck with RIM.
This mentality was fostered on a lot of reading, a lot of research, and communications with people at RIM. Customers that my company deals with have opinions on what is the best device for the business world.
Today's businesses needs security. Not "we have a great new product designed to protect you" but more "we've been protecting for 14 years and have been proven in the industry." Security is first and foremost. There has to be a promise and commitment to protect customers' data that resides on our devices. Their payment information, address, email information, passwords, and more. My smartphone contains a significant amount of information that is private between two parties. I am always worried when I have electronic conversations with iPhones and Android devices because I truly don't know if they could stand the test of something truly malicious. I would hate to have my email conversations out there because someone couldn't secure their device.
I have never had that concern with RIM products.
Has RIM made some bad judgment calls when it came to the future of their company and the direction they were taking with smartphones? They were not ready for the direction and app focus that the iPhone would create. They weren't able to move quickly due to the secure nature of what they provided. It wasn't as easy as people thought it should be. To jump would be to lose a difficult but secure system that worked. They didn't make those changes and lost market share and inherent value at an incredibly fast rate.
Now, the good side of it was that the company didn't have debt. They had billions in cash, patents, and the ability to acquire.
QNX was acquired by RIM in April of 2010. Word was that the next step in mobile computing, tablets and smartphones would be on this platform. Without getting into a separate article, you need to understand that QNX is the most trusted and secure piece of code available. It is used in automobile systems such as OnStar, computer monitoring systems on the space shuttle that audit tile temperatures and redirect cooling. Systems that are integral and used when there is no room for mistakes. RIM used the BlackBerry Playbook as a development platform to some degree as they refined their next platform. This was the foundation for RIM's march into the future with competing product.
Currently the two big players are Android and Apple (AAPL). They both have had massive success and dominate both in North America, as well as worldwide. Apple is getting a little long in the tooth, and again with the latest update, has created a lot of problems with exchange servers in the corporate world. I feel that Android, due to its open nature, has to work a lot harder to protect both the device and the network.
On January 30th of this year BlackBerry (BBRY) became the name of the company. All traces of Jim Balsillie are now gone. The newest device, the Z10, was made available in the UK the next day, and Canada on February 5th. I received my device that day.
Having used it for a few weeks now I enjoy it more today than I did in the first few days. It takes no time to learn the new system and I am accomplishing more with fewer steps completing more on my smartphone than I did in the past.
Now I have the security I need when connected to my exchange server. I have the control I need on any devices that are part of my network by using BlackBerry Balance. My employees have the protection they need when giving up part of their device to the work network. BlackBerry Balance is brilliant in simplicity and design and is easily integrated into your existing structure and is built to work with Apple and Android devices. The keyboard is the best of any device on the market today bar none. I am faster, yes faster and more accurate on a touch keyboard. You don't have to push a key anymore. You tap in the general area of the key and over time the device knows what you meant. It corrects your mistakes without iteration after limited use and improves the more you use it.
There is a mode that places predicted words over the next logical letter. This allows you to "flick" the word up instead of typing it makes it simpler to use one handed. Additionally, you can use the voice dictation system which is quite accurate and handles simple tasks quite effortlessly. Holding down the side key and saying "Call Bob Jones Mobile" or "Text Sally Simpson" followed up by your message.
There are a few small glitches. I have had sounds that stop working after using Bluetooth. There are some needing interface tweaks, but those can be fixed with updates as they are based in software. What's important is that the foundation is solid, the interface is fluid, and the device is perfectly built. Needed apps are added every day and more developers have committed their products. Once you see how the Hub works in handling all your messages and notifications it is hard to go back to older ways. Experience how Flow lets you move between all areas seamlessly using gestures. What's most important is that this system is secure and it is fast. It has been built for the future and built to scale the way only a micro kernel can do.
That is what Visa (V) saw when it chose BlackBerry technology. A company who knows how to make things secure and has been doing it for over a decade. In fact, Secure Element Manager (SEM), a BlackBerry technology, has been approved by Visa for NFC transactions.
Announced earlier this week was news that ten thousand BlackBerry devices would be moving to iPhones at Home Depot (HD). That news seemed to carry more weight than I gave it. Honestly, I have not found Home Depot to be a company that I trust with my tech decisions. It is surprising that the week they make their change, an update is released that causes iPhones to saturate Microsoft (MSFT) exchanges, causing slowdowns on corporate networks. This is just a precursor to the future if Apple and Android don't start placing more emphasis on those areas and not trying to be the first to have a million apps available.
BlackBerry is poised to keep moving. They have a great device that was built with the future in mind. I interact with 3 email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, text, BBM, and phone. These all feed the Hub, so I can respond quickly and securely. Each person that I show my Z10 to has a lot more questions to ask and then seems to see their device as a little dated.
Try a phone call and hear HD Audio between your devices over cellular. I have difficulty talking on a regular call because of the difference. I use BBM Voice to talk to suppliers and clients that have adopted this platform and our calls now accomplish more, and give us the tools to show emails and information without passing over control of it. Feel how the device sits in your hand. Understand that it gets better the more you use it.
It doesn't take long to realize that BlackBerry did a lot of things right. In a few months Q10 will add to that feel with a physical keyboard, and already a demand is forming in the United States for the launch of both devices. So far all countries have launched strong with sales in excess of any previous device.
That doesn't sound like a company in trouble. That sounds like a company that listened, redesigned, and evolved. That is a company that has growth on its mind. As their motto states: "Keep Moving."
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.