As someone who never pulls his punches, Research In Motion (RIMM) Co-CEO Jim Balsillie told a room filled with portfolio managers (”Scotia Capital Tech/Telecom Conference,“ November 20, 2007) that his new “Unite” platform is “The Holy Grail.” Unite, was first discussed in early October during the Q2 financial results process and Mr. Balsillie advised that the new home server platform was in beta testing with Spain’s Telephonica. Before you run out and buy more RIMM stock, Mr. Balsillie also allowed “that we just have to get the beta done and get it into production.”
But, don’t expect a huge uptake in the next few months.
At the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, giants such as Dell (DELL) and Microsoft (MSFT) put much of their marketing spend into showcasing the “home server” concept, whether it be for entertainment or communication. RIMM’s approach is more manageable, and involves turning your home computer into your family’s personal server. There is no need to run out, and buy a media server to get it up and running.
“This is the Holy Grail to half the carriers out there, we just have to get it done.” He almost sounded a bit frustrated that it still was in beta mode, but if anyone knows RIMM’s Co-CEO, he isn’t someone who gets frustrated.
Unite will be a free software download and work on Windows, courtesy of RIMM’s carrier friends. It’ll reside on the home PC, and turn “even a $200 or $300 PC” into a home server. It is an Enterprise BES for the home. Families will be able to share calendars, log telephone calls, upload photos and store/share music. All you need is a broadband hookup, and constant connectivity, which unfortunately flies a bit in the face of energy consumption trends.
Whether it be for SOHO or family use, Balsillie promises that consumers will be able to get many of the benefits of an office BES, without the large licence fees. And the good news for people who already have a Blackberry hooked up to an Enterprise BES, is that the two will be able to interface with each other. Or perhaps, your RIMM will be able to talk to both servers.
It sounded pretty exciting, and is a new angle to push RIMM’s products into hands of consumers. If one assumes that the beta software works to Mr. Balsillie’s satisfaction, then there’s no way that Apple (AAPL)can top this.
Unfortunately, despite all the talk of Holy Grails, there were no sightings of John Cleese, King Arthur, the Black Knight or the Nights Who Say “Ni!”
Disclosure: The author owns RIMM.
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