Anyone who has read Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow should remember his little tale about Ford Motor (F).
He visited the chief investment officer of a large financial firm who told Kahneman that he had just invested tens of millions of dollars into Ford stock. Kahneman asked him how he came to that decision and the CIO said that he was recently at an automobile show and had been impressed: "boy, do they know how to make a car." It was clear that the CIO trusted his gut feeling and was satisfied. Kahneman shortly explains that the mind usually takes a difficult question (should I invest in Ford stock) and replaces it with an easier question (do I like Ford cars?). Thinking, Fast and Slow is a must-read for anyone interested in sentimental analysis; it's not a medical text and should not be judged as one, as it is anecdotal in nature.
A lot of retail investors (1% of Apple (AAPL), for example, and 10% of Research In Motion (RIMM) - this seems accurate, but its accuracy does not affect this analysis) probably and surprisingly do exactly that. They replace investment decisions with whether they personally like the product itself. It should be obvious from seeing the deluge of RIM supporters saying "anyone who has used a Playbook" or "I need a communication tool, not a toy." Apple supporters are just as guilty when they try to be "different" by choosing Apple.
It could be either to validate their original decision, or to simply not be wrong (a very big crutch of any trader is to be right all the time). I'll be going into an analysis about QNX and its run-up to BB World, and I might write more about what to look for BB World, depending on this article's reception.
QNX: the Keystone to BB 10
To understand what QNX is, I'll first state what QNX isn't. QNX is not a silver bullet that will take over all embedded systems. It will not necessarily mean that every type of software and hardware that pairs with QNX will beat out the next guy. QNX merely provides a platform where if properly pushed and worked on, can create software that is better than its equivalent (on other OSs) in certain respects. QNX is an OS for embedded systems based on micro-kernel architecture; it is well respected in industry, and a lot of research has been pushing micro-kernels as the next architectural design: Linus Torvalds vs Micro-Kernel, research paper.
Traits: Security, Battery Life, Reliability
These have never been the defining hallmarks of any consumer-targeted electronics. Let's go back into history, while Pong is a bit too early, we'll look at the portable audio cassette. It was patented in Brazil but did not gain traction till Sony branded and marketed the Walkman in 1979. Anyone who has used an audio cassette in the past decade knows the problems that the hardware has, never mind being back in the '80s.
With the CD being released in '82, music consumption advances (ironically, analog is still better quality at that time, but there's less quantity) with the Discman. Again, even nowadays with Sonyware, it has its fair share of problems. The DVD technology in '97 is pretty interesting - expanding storage from less than 800 MB to just under 5 GB, it would have been faux pas to say that CDs would last much longer - however, they've been the standard up till the end of the first decade. The reason was simple, normal data (excluding video) simply did not take up more than a few gigabytes of information, to a normal user who burns music, stores some home videos, stores some data for backup, 800 MB was fine.
It should also be noted here the rate at which hard drive capacity expanded, terabytes for consumer-end was not common until the end of the decade. When Blu-ray came out on top in 2006 past HD-DVD, it still didn't gain traction simply because 50 GB wasn't needed, sure it was able to transfer better-than-life quality video to consumers, but its success was dependent on too many other things: blu-ray players were priced exorbitantly for simply movie watching, a TV big enough and advanced enough to play HD was needed - oh, and the most important, movies good enough to watch.
Intel vs. AMD: there has been books and papers written about it, but the two architectures of the processors differ. Where AMD offered true multitasking and Intel threw raw power at the task, Intel still remains market leader today. AMD supporters will say that gamers and DIY aficionados choose AMD for the reliability, performance, etc, a large part of it comes down to having similar performance with smaller costs - it didn't really matter what kind of chip your computer ran or what kind of gaming mouse you used if you were destroying every other gamer - actually, you'd generate more fanfare by using what was considered sub-standard equipment.
Battery life is going to become less and less important until the next technological barrier is broken. Extending battery life from 4 hours to 8 hours is marginally better than extending 8 hours to 12 for consumers. The behavior and usage of mobile devices for most: go out in the morning, recharge at night. An extension of battery life when you've reached a certain threshold just isn't going to be as important anymore until a newer level is reached - perhaps 3 days of electrical juice. Personal stories of "I use my phone like this and need this and want more battery life" - you belong in the 1%.
Security is rather a troubling issue. It was understood by many that Windows was virus and worm-infested while Macs were relatively free of such problems for different reasons (anyone who thinks it's because Apple OS is superior should attend BlackHat USA; Apple too is problematic but slightly so). With minor security issues being common in the past, identity theft is becoming more and more rampant today. Users have been pushed and want to go mobile with more and more sensitive data.
Anyone who has been burned by data theft will know it's extremely troublesome to clean up your record. Occurrences of high-profile companies being targeted (1.5 M accounts being hacked from Visa, PS3 network), this problem can't be ignored much longer. Corporations will either pay in reparations (look at Sony's handling of PS3) or in monitoring costs (Discover Financial monitoring accounts that were compromised ). QNX is not an answer to all security problems (anyone who has dealt with security knows the black hats are always behind), but it will be less common.
What you should be looking for is how companies start handling these security incidents from now on - there will be a typical PR statement given out about how the companies value their customers will strive to do its best and so on, but look for incidents (usually from forums) about companies deflecting responsibilities with small print and horrible customer service - this will be when internal policies shift responsibility off the company. With these type of changes, consumers will naturally tend towards more secure platforms - their reasoning and rationale isn't security, but less hassle and fuss.
Every other feature of QNX is arguably secondary: power, multi-tasking, will not drive the platform to success. If Cascades is released next week, (at least the development kits should be) look for the early adopters and their impression about how easy it is to program, build, and how powerful the system is (blogosphere, forums, and Twitter are more or less the most direct). Be warned though, this is subjective in its extreme, but the best clue into the future of the platform, investor decisions aren't going to decide the fate of the company.
I do separate the success of a platform from the success equated from academic research, and hence the financial success of RIM (in regards to my links in the introduction), but to not acknowledge research is foolish. This article is rather medium-long term in nature, so take note.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.