Apps aren't everything, says RIM
Web services and streaming will be key to success, not app stores, says co-CEO
Published: 18 November, 2010
The task of challenging Apple and Google in the mobile apps game is just too daunting for many players, but the rise of web services and content streaming - and the devices to support that - will give many a second chance to shine. That lies behind HP's development of Palm's web-focused webOS, Nokia's MeeGo and RIM's new tablet platform. Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit this week, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said phone and tablet users "don't need an app for the web", and the new generation of devices will compete on the internet and browser experience.
"You don't need to go through some kind of control point," Balsillie explained, in something of an about-face for a firm known for its tight control of its software environment - and, before it bought QNX to create its new tablet OS, its poor browser. He added: "That's the core part of our message. It is really not about a set of proprietary rules or about 'appifying' the web. The web needs a platform that allows you to use your existing web content, not apps."
Balsillie also hinted at a strategy to converge the user experiences for the PlayBook and BlackBerry, as HTC has done with its multi-OS Sense user interface. He said new BlackBerry smartphones will soon look and feel like the tablet. An audience member asked when the tablet form factor would be shrunk so it could be held against the ear to make calls, and responded that it would be a matter of reducing the PlayBook UI to the size of a smartphone screen. "I can't get into future products, but it's not the hardest thing in the world to repackage," he added.
As NetworkWorld points out, RIM has also posted a video comparing the iPad web experience with that promised on the forthcoming PlayBook. It boasts faster browser speeds on the RIM device, plus support for both Flash and HTML5.
Also putting HTML5 at the heart of its software strategy is Nokia, but the Finnish giant refuses to cede the apps store battle to Google and Apple. It has increased downloads from its Ovi Store by 50% in a month, from 2m a day in September to 3m in October, and is on track to top one billion downloads a year. The leap was partly driven by the launch of the firm's flagship smartphone, the N8, on September 30 in many markets. Rovio's game Angry Birds leads paid-for Ovi Store downloads worldwide, while CellApp Technology's Q Torch flashlight solution tops the free category.
Nokia says that over 1.5m developers have now downloaded its cross-platform Qt Software Development Toolkit, which spans its two operating systems, Symbian and MeeGo, and in future will also embrace others. Nokia also plans to use Qt for its own applications and for a new user interface.