An Open Letter To Google And Research In Motion
In development of something brought forward on the forum and in my (and others) comments on my previous article...
There is a unique opportunity facing both RIM (RIMM) and Google (GOOG).
RIMM has QNX. Many are unaware of what QNX actually is. But those of us who have used it, and worked with it in the embedded space, are very aware of it. It is a hard real-time, small, compact and efficient POSIX-compliant kernel. It is everything that Linux and BSD is not in terms of efficiency and suitability for things that must interface with events -- whether that be a radio, a microwave oven or a user's finger on a screen.
Google has Android. Android is a mess internally, but very popular. It runs on more and more of the world's cellphones. In addition Google has Chrome, it has its cloudsourced business and personal applications, and it has Gmail.
So here's the concept: Google buys RIMM.
Ok, I know, why?
Easy. Google gains QNX. QNX becomes the base of the Google operating system, replacing Linux. Android remains open source and forks at the kernel level, being either Linux (for those who do not wish to pay) or QNX (for those who do.) The latter get materially lower power consumption and higher performance.
Then Google rolls the unified design out to all devices -- desktop, hybrid, tablet and phone. The desktop system is not free, but it's hella-cheaper than Windows. And it runs circles around it on the same hardware, being a tenth of the size and much more efficient.
One environment, every device, consistent user interface. Your desktop can run APKs. Your tablet can run native Google apps. Chrome is the browser but the system is not entirely browser-based -- it runs real applications too. Your phone can run all of these worlds, provided you want to -- and sometimes you do. Some modern phones have an HDMI output and Android can accept a bluetooth keyboard and an IR "presentation director" simply requires an IR receiver port on the phone. Now at a business presentation you don't need to haul around anything other than the cord to plug into the projector at the client's end, or you can just bring the tablet -- all are in-sync and the same presentations and environment work everywhere.
Oh yeah, and the greater efficiency means you get true "all day" battery life out of that thin-and-light laptop with performance levels currently resulting in 3-hour batteries durations.
If Google does this Microsoft (MSFT) gets a chainsaw in the back and Apple (AAPL) can't hope to match it. Apple's has the tri-mode environment but supports no storage on two of the three devices, nor does it have the off-machine output capacity, while Google's is both open ecosystem and supports storage with devices that handle HDMI output right now.
Does storage matter? You bet it does. That microSD card slot is a big deal and so is the ability to handle USB storage devices. Both plug into your laptop or desktop machine in seconds and is a hell of a lot faster than an "over the air" interface of any sort, not to mention that it can't run out of room since you can swap it. It can also be encrypted for security purposes and in the corporate world this matters a lot.
Yes, this idea sounds crazy, and perhaps it is. But an open ecosystem with high security and yet ubiquitous availability across a user's electronic space is the holy grail that everyone has shot at for the last three decades, and yet nobody has achieved.
Part of the reason is that power budgets are a bitch and in the mobile space they cripple you. Linux is a nice operating system and so is BSD; I have run FreeBSD for nearly two decades and worked with Linux since Linus released it. But neither is truly suitable for small, handheld, battery-powered devices, even though both Android and iOS try to prove otherwise. The 3-hour battery life on your cellphone when in use says they both failed.
QNX, on the other hand, was designed as a real-time, small-kernel, power and resource-efficient operating environment. It's the missing piece, and being POSIX-compliant dropping it in is not a re-write of the entire Android environment -- it's a drop-in of the underlying operating system support.
Do it, Google. You have the cash to do this transaction today, you have the ability, you have the vision and we all know you want to play The Brain and "take over the world."
The difference between Google in this case and the others in the space is that Google, combined with RIMM, can pull it off.
Disclosure: Yes, I own some RIMM.