Now Apple Could Have Some Problems

Includes: AAPL, BB, GOOG
by: Karl Denninger

The iFeminineProduct is about to run into some trouble.

Two sorts, in fact.

The first is the Android-powered things, chief among them will be Samsung's. If you haven't used one of the modern Android phones, well, once you do you'll see how limited the iPhone really is. It's stunning, really, by comparison. Android 1.x showed the promise. 2.2, which is coming to the Vibrant shortly (it has 2.1 now) has very significant improvements, including native flash support. Even things like my nightly Ticker videos will display on it - something the iPhone cannot do without a clumsy (ridiculously so) import process.

But RIMM, which badly needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, might have just done it.

The device, called the BlackBerry PlayBook, has a 7-inch (18-centimeter) screen, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in an interview in New York. That’s smaller than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display. The company didn’t give a price for the PlayBook, which is slimmer and lighter than the iPad.

The slightly-smaller screen is likely a good thing. 7" looks to be just about the perfect size from my perspective. But that's not the news item here. No, it's this:

RIM is building the device based on software built by QNX Software Systems, a company RIM bought in April for $200 million. That marks a shift away from BlackBerry 6, the latest version of the BlackBerry operating system, used in the Torch.

Oh oh.

Folks, QNX has been around for a long time. It's a very Unix-like RTOS - or real-time operating system - that is known for it's prowess in handling embedded systems. It is very light-weight - much more so than a Linux kernel or its derivatives, such as what's in the Apple and Android devices.

And it's capable of hard real-time performance.

If RIMM can figure out the application issues, and not get bogged down with them - it will have something that will be very, very difficult to compete with on the technical merits, both in responsiveness and efficiency. And it has a built-in moat - they have QNX while none of the others do.

The "murder" weapon would be if it was able to run Android APKs. I doubt they'll go there, and there may be legal reasons why they can't, but you cannot underestimate the potential for a real and serious contest when it comes to the actual "bang" that this device can offer.

I will be watching this one closely - Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has attracted some trouble, in my opinion, and between RIMM and the upcoming Android-powered tablets Steve Jobs has himself some trouble brewing over what he thought was a pretty-safe panoply of devices.

Suddenly it doesn't look so safe at all, and neither do the predictions that Apple was going to "steamroller" the market on a forward basis with their tablet and phones.

With RIMM selling at a P/E of 9 and Apple at nearly 22, you may have a wee problem down the road if you're an Apple Stock Fanboy.

Disclosure: Seriously considering either an outright short on Apple or a pair trade - short AAPL, long RIMM.