back to article BlackBerry boss renews disdain for Steve Jobs

Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie has renewed his attack on the Jobsian way, once again pitching the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet as a much-needed alternative to the Apple iPad. This morning at the Web 2.0 Summit in downtown San Francisco, Basillie was asked what he would say to Steve Jobs if the Apple CEO were in …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Sounds like Jim is peeved because nobody is writing decent apps for his platform.

    If there's one thing the masses (ie. non-geeks) want it is a pretty simple life. To pick up a device and use it. They don't want their phone to be radically different to their tablet, so why do Google, RIM and Microsoft not see that?

    Linux netbooks were returned by many people confused or disappointed by them, why is a tablet with ChromeOS or the RIM QNX based system going to be any different?

    At least with the iPad you know you're getting the OS the iPhone and iPod uses.

    1. Donn Bly
      Thumb Down

      @Giles Jones

      You are right in that most people (geeks and non-geeks alike) just want to be able to pick up a device and use it -- but it is pretty far reaching to say that they don't want their phone to be radically different than their tablet.

      That's like saying that they don't want their microwave oven to be different than their phone.

      I think that I'm like most people that if I'm using a portable computer that I want it to be a computer -- not a phone with all of its inherent limitations.. If I want a phone, I pick up the phone, not a tablet.

      1. thecakeis(not)alie

        @Donn Bly

        Um...I want my tablet to be a Really Big Phone. Seriously; my phone (HTC Desire) can do just about everything I want. My only gripes are the small screen and the low resolution. Make me an 10" HTC Desire at 1366x768 and I'm quite happy.

        "Portable computer?" The RDP client on my Desire handles that function beautifully. For everything else there's an app for that.

        Who needs (or wants) to carry a full-fat computing device around with them? Get a VM and a network connection man! Leave that battery-draining baggage at home.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Messing around with Root Control for Command of Universally Sourced Assets

          "Who needs (or wants) to carry a full-fat computing device around with them? Get a VM and a network connection man! Leave that battery-draining baggage at home." .... thecakeis(not)alie Posted Tuesday 16th November 2010 23:55 GMT

          Not everyone, and probably definitely very few, have the required Brain Power and Central Dynamic Graphic Processor Unit Programming skills to Bust that Bucking Bronco/Driver that HyperManic Mindset and Fluid Controlling App/Global Currency Regulator, thecakeis(not)alie.

          And those that do never lie and are a great lay too........ which of course then makes them Dangerously Attractive and Disarming and Beautifully Addictive and Powerful. And more than just Godlike in Live Operational Virtual Environments/Communicating Communications Fields, for how else would one describe the Heavenly Sees and Safe Havens Revealed.

          1. thecakeis(not)alie


            Don't bring the video to the device as page scrapes. Through that path lies madness. Either compress video and use graphic hardware on the endpoint to decode or only do video using local files on the endpoint. Remember that you can decode video cheaply; specialised hardware doesn't cost you a lot of power.

            I think this is a possibility for a couple of reasons. First, there are plenty of companies out there who are extending the RDP protocol in ways that allow the endpoint to make use of it's graphics hardware for video decode. Second, people have gotten used to "ipods." They understand the concept of loading the media they want to view local to their device.

            What I am saying is outside of my media consumption, I can get everything done from a remote session. I have entire workplaces full of non-technically oriented people who are perfectly familiar with how it works; why can’t this be extended to the consumer level? Hell….with certain tweaks, I’d argue it is exactly the innovation Microsoft requires if they want to survive. They have to become the fat operating system in the cloud that everyone relies upon, even if they are using a competitor’s thin device.

            Thusly; screw fat clients. Don’t need ‘em. An iPad-alike (that’s a little less restrictive) will do me just fine.

        2. studentrights

          Pricing Problems

          No if they can only make a 10" tablet that cost the same as an iPad. right now 7" Android tablets with 55% less screen space cost as much as an iPad. A 10" will surely cost more.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Portable computers

          I take mine round to a client's for a day's hard graft. I wouldn't want to do that on a phone and I wouldn't want to use any of their kit.

        4. MrCheese


          Don't make me laugh, what planet are you from, what bridge did you come ourt from under? You're actually suggsting a phone/tablet using 3/4G to remote onto a VM to actually use as you would laptop!?!

          With the UKs paltry excuse for a broadband infrastructure I sometimes struggle to RDP to machine in the office a few miles across town, let alone doing it down the end of a mobile connection on the fly...that's the beauty of having a laptop!

          And for the money you're spending on the iPad you could have a damn good laptop, and don't give me the "too big and cumbersome angle" because there's not really much difference in carrying one or other apart from the delusion that the £400 couldn't have better spent!

          1. thecakeis(not)alie


            I've spent a month working from iPad exactly as you suggest. I do work from my desire in exactly that fashion on a fairly regular basis. As to "too cumbersome," why yes...laptops are. Even modern windows tablets are just too bulky and heavy. That's not the killer though. The killer is battery life. Full-fat operating systems just don't have the battery life necessary for me to get a day's work in.

            Remember, you can type just fine on an iPad. Which means no need for a keyboard. There doesn’t have to be a habitrail of copper to cool some ridiculously over-the-top x86 chip. You don’t have all the “baggage” of trying to be the everycomputer. It’s just a media consumption device capable of RDP. I’m a sysadmin, and a programmer. I’m a user and a consumer. Shockingly…the form factor works brilliantly for me.

            What doesn’t work for me is the locked down nature of the iPad; specifically the inability to use removable storage. I need the ability to carry a few SD cards with my movies/tv shows/songs/whatever. I have laptops. Nice ones too. Since getting my Desire I almost never use them. If I had an iPad-alike I can pretty much guarantee they would gather dust.

            I just don’t understand what average tasks require you to have a full fat system at your fingertips? Sure, there are some heavy lifting tasks I would prefer to do at a real workstation: photo/video editing. (Proper colour calibration requires a real monitor and a real video card.) CAD. Video gaming. Those are all activities I would do from one place though; not on the go. I would have to specifically set time aside to do those things, which means finding a desk and parking it.

            When it comes to 90% of what I use a computer for…I don’t want to be sitting down at a desk and staring intently at a light screen. I don’t need to be tethered to write a comment on El Reg. I don’t need be tethered to read/write e-mail, consume media, check facts online or enter inventory items into my corporate point of sales system. I don’t need to be sitting down to use instant messenger, Facebook or check on my webcomics.

            What 10 years ago I would have done on a low-power desktop or five years ago on a notebook I now find myself doing on my phone. True “workstation” tasks still require a beefy “workstation.” The difference is that “workstation-class computing” lives inside my Alienware laptop and sits unused in the corner until I actually come up with a task that requires it. All my real work is done in my personal VM and delivered over RDP.

            With a little bit of effort, a lot of that “workstation computing” can even be moved into a VM, providing even fewer reasons to bust out the power-hog.

            Let me be clear: we aren’t yet at the point that regular folks will be ditching their desktops/laptops for iPad-alikes. We are however seeing the start of it. It’s no different than landlines and cell phones. When cell phones first came out people would have both a land line and a cell phone. Slowly be surely that eroded to be a minority; now many people (and most youngsters) have only a cell phone.

            Desktops/full-fat laptops will fade away in the same manner.

            The question I leave with you is: which companies will be the ones capable of foreseeing this and taking advantage and which companies will cling to the past?

      2. studentrights


        Wow you really don't get it. Smartphones, tablets and computers share a lot in common. They have an OS, software updates, applications and are use as communication tools. A microwave is something completely different and shares none of these common computing attributes.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Tired of the web/cloud

    Sorry but having done a lot of both, doing "web" programming does not strike me as any easier or better than native programming.

    What is with the push to have web "programs" pretending to be native apps?

    I can't help but think it's because a lot of younger computer hobbyists have experience cobbling together basic web pages and don't want to learn anything more sophisticated. And they have convinced the suits that web programming is newer and better than native.

    1. Ivan Headache

      As an end user

      I find that in many cases, the App route gives a far better result than the Web route.

      For example. Earlier today i was on on my mac looking for a hotel in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the Lovely Ivana was involved in a car accident and I had to abandon my search to go rescue her and take her to the doctor. While waiting at the doctors I went onto my iPhone and continued my search. The search itself wasn't difficult but trying to follow up with dates and prices and locations proved to be a rather tedious and ultimately pointless task.

      I then noticeed that had noted that I was using an iPhone and offered me their App.

      What a difference. Everything that was so difficult and fiddly was a breeze.

      This has been the same where I have used other specific apps instead of the web route (the eBay apps are good examples).

      Others obviously may not agree.

      Finally - what's a good hotel in Amsterdam? - I've never stayed there before, just visited from other places.

      1. Wommit
        Paris Hilton

        Hotel In Amsterdam

        Hotel Jimmy, 15 Martelaarsgracht.

        It's cheap. I stayed there ONCE! But you get what you pay for. Close to the Centraal station. Though I understand that there is an Ibis at the station as well.

        Paris, to keep you warm at night.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        @Ivan Headache

        So have a website that's f*** all use on mobile devices (not clever, given that travellers are their target customers) and instead of fixing this so everyone can use it they have taken a deep swig of the Kool-aid and built an iPhone app?

        They deeply deserve to go bust.......

        Here's a hint for anyone seriously clueless to whom mobile trade is critical: Build one, good, mobile-friendly web page and your entire client base will be satisfied. Take the "app" route and that'll be one for iOS, one for Symbian, one for Android, one for BB (etc. ad nauseum) to avoid sending significant chunks of your potential client base elsewhere.

        Now. Which of those approaches makes sound business sense?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Good plan, but with one small flaw...

          You *don't* make one web app for all devices, because in the mobile world everyone's device has differing levels of memory, screen size, speed, memory, etc., etc.

          Try visiting Google's mobile site with different devices to see how the layout and functionality changes for each device and how crap it looks on large-screen devices because it needs to also work on small screen devices; it really isn't as straightforward as you think.

          Are you a manager?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Have you heard of CSS? Have you heard of media queries? Have you heard of liquid, elastic and fluid layouts?

            No. It's not straightforward. It's much fucker harder than all the "web's not real dev" twats here seem to understand. But would an easy job make for a fun life? I thought geeks liked an intellectual challenge.

      3. Youngdog

        Depends on what you mean by 'good'

        I used to stay at The American - clean, reasonably priced, good bar and a GREAT location for seeing the charms of the city. Have a great time.

    2. Nathan 6


      I don't know why RIM is pushing this web app approach when no company has found success with this approach in the mobile devices. Palm webOS failed (we-based apps), iOS: native apps rule, and Andriod: native apps rule.

      So why take a failed approached when you already have a solid Java API to work with.

      Another thing people don't realize is much easieir to monetize native apps rather than web apps.

      1. sandman

        Hotel in Amsterdam

        I rather like this one, although it isn't that cheap. NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky -

    3. Stephen Bungay

      Whats with the push?

      The answer is simple... control and money. The hype to herd everyone to web-based applications is there because when everyone depends on the web (at the moment we do not) then the gravy train is once more leaving the station.

      We are fast coming full circle. In days of yore dumb-terminals gave you access to mini or mainframe computers. Replace Mainframe and Mini with Internet and PCs (no matter the O/S) and replace dumb terminals with more sophisticated thin-client devices (smart phones and tablets (again no matter the O/S) and were back in old model of computing from the mid-to-late 1970's. Much prettier, much more capable, much more affordable, and a whole lot more fun, but the same business model.

      The web is a great tool, I use it all the time, but I make sure I do not rely on it. If the Internet went dead tomorrow (not gonna happen) my business operations would only suffer because the Windows PCs I service would not fill up quite as quickly with Trojans and other assorted malware as they do now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If the internet went dead tomorrow, half the devices out there would become moot, and who the hell would bother typing emails that couldn't be delivered?

        I rather fancy many of us would move back to paper, and you would be out of a job. Then, rather than websites having control over content and the revenue stream ... magazines, periodicals and other media would have control over the content and the revenue stream.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you pretending to not understand?

      It's not that writing a web app is so much easier then writing an iPhone apps. It is that:

      (1) most companies already have web apps

      (2) they are based on standard technologies

      (3) they run on every device out there

      How could you miss these points?

      I can understand that Apple would prefer that everything be re-written as an iOS app that only runs on their products, with their approval, and with them taking a nice cut. What I can't understand is that you could argue that that is better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope, YOU don't understand

        I'm not saying the World Wide Web should be rewritten as a collection of iPhone apps. I'm saying that there's a place for web pages/sites/services and there's a place for native apps. Making a platform that only runs one or the other will lead to failure. RIM thinks it's sooooooooo great that apps for their platform are written using HTML/CSS/Javascript. Super. Ask Apple how their "web API" for the iPhone is doing.

    5. MrCheese

      If I had to guess

      The only reason cloud computing is being touted as The Next Big Thing is to justify these stupidly massive, ever expanding datacentres that everyone's building. Cloudc omputing is a means to prop up the server market thus counterbalancing widespread uptake of virtualisation and reduced spending as a result of the downturn.

      Native apps on a fat client are best, it's easier to replace the client than it is your web connection, fact!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    What the world needs now... a grown up competitor to the iPad, and Blackberry might be the ones to deliver it.

    I've seen the odd early adopter try to use the iPad to supplement their locked-and-bolted down work laptops, and come up against highly restrictive IT policies hard. Blackberry seem to be one of the few companies that understand that to get widespread adoption in the workplace (where technology is viewed with suspicion rather than gleeful understanding) you need to visibly add value, not just 10,000 ways to waste your employees time.

    I for one, etc.

    1. Andrew Williams

      Is a leapfrogger...

      RIM and others are scurrying around in catch-up mode. If they want to do something cool, then jumping forward of where iPad etc is is the way to go.

  4. Malcolm 1

    Looking forward to this

    This looks like a really nice piece of kit. Certainly the first of this type of device that I'd actively consider buying. As long as I don't miss out on features by not having a BES account.

    QNX always was a very nicely put together OS - I'm glad it's finally breaking out of the worthy but dull world of embedded systems.

  5. FatCandy

    Vtech anyone?

    Do the iDevices remind anyone of the VTech computers for kids? Oh, and I thought the JesusPlatform (the jPlatform if you will) killed Flash what with it being a CPU/memory hog with poor performance and all? Guess not and now we have documented proof. Well, truth be told, we've had it since Froyo but I thought I'd humor the fanbois.

    I'm just waiting for El Reg to write an article titled something along the lines of "Fanbois howl as true value of the jPlatform is revealed" or "World laughs at fanboi devs fannying about with yet another pointless app".

  6. Ian Davies

    Full-on strawman mode

    Um, where exactly does Apple say that apps on the iPhone "need to go through some kind of SDK"?

    I have a bunch of web apps on my iPhone, written with the exact same technologies that old Jimbo is waving around like he invented them.

    Actually, that raises a point. If Apple hadn't developed Webkit (you know, that thing that Apple lets you use to write web apps for the iPhone) how exactly would RIM be stepping up to this pissing competition? With their own in-house browser? Yeah, I'd like to see that.

    And performance comparisons are meaningless. What the video demonstrates is not (necessarily) a faster browser, but simply more recent hardware. Does anyone doubt that the next iPad will out perform this thing?

  7. Bear Features

    he's right

    Well he is right isn't he. Apps shouldn't replace the web, or a website. Apple can't mke a device to offer FULL web so they use apps instead and blame Flash. Before Jobs said he didn't like Flash, no fanboi had a problem with it. Now, magically, they all hate it because their leader has told them to hate it. :o)

    1. Steve Todd

      It's more a case

      of Adobe being unable to make a version of Flash that runs well on mobile hardware. Even the version that they have for Android (3 years after the release of the iPhone) needs top of the range mobile hardware and web optimised video sources to make a half hearted stab at being reasonable.

  8. Steve Todd

    Let me get this strait

    A twin core A9 machine with 1GB of RAM, not due out until next year, is faster than a single core A9 with 256MB of RAM that has been on the market for over 6 months. You do surprise me.

    Also Apple tried to push the "Web Only" approach with the original iPhone. People didn't like it. They relented and went to an Apps plus Web model, and most devs wrote Apps. I'd like to see RIM demonstrate a web version of Epic Citadel to prove that Web is just as fast as a native app.

    1. dylan 4
      Thumb Up

      RIM to developers: we don't want your apps, go make money elsewhere?

      A Thumbs Up to you sir, and a FAIL to RIM.

      Whether or not a web-only model can achieve native-app like speed and efficiency is only a small part of the equation, and a minor one when it comes to attracting the dev community.

      Re native apps vs web, how exactly is a developer supposed to _sell_ "the web"? "Come buy the emperor's new clothes"?

      App developers are loving Apple and the App Store because they are making money selling applications to users. Some of these apps accomplish things which are still possible with a web-only model, but who the hell is going to want to develop for that model when it's much harder to make money?

  9. Shaun Hunter

    Adobe Air+QNX seems like a win

    I think he's playing up web apps because their Air implimentation won't be ready at launch. I think they should take their time and release it with enterprise level features such as RBAC. In my opinion RIM should deepen their corporate focus to keep their main following. I think Andriod and IOS will dominate the toy market and niether really addresses the needs of the Smartphone's early adopters which was the business sector. It's really where the money is anyway.

    Then again Intel proved a first to market, temporary kludge can beat out "taking the time to do it right" with their dual chip package quad-core versus AMD's "true" quad-core a couple years ago.

  10. Chad H.

    Isn't this what we all laughed about when apple tried it?

    Didn't apple argue "we don't need no stinking SDK, write web apps" to the original iPhone... Didn't we all ridicule them for that?

    Blackberry isn't fighting the Jobisan way - they're embracing it! The thing is, Steve worked out that his strategy didn't work and pulled a Sir Robin....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The thing is, for technical people you are correct. But for the average user the most important things are:

    (1) the device does what the user wants it to do

    (2) that the device is easy and intuitive to maintain, upgrade and add functionality

    (3) that the device works

    I think 3 is the reason why Jobs' way is working - I have had "open" systems in the past where I could install anything I wanted. At some point this has inevitably broken the device I was using. Your average user just doesn't want that - they want to know that whatever they install (through iTunes for example) will do what it says, will not be malware ridden and will not brick their tablet. You can only guarantee this if you control the distribution point.

  12. Jim 48


    "There's a module cavity," he said. "So, it can hold a module. So the question is, 'Do you pair this with a smartphone or standalone wide-area [hardware]?'"

    Remind anybody else of the Handspring Visor and it's Springboard expansion slot? I've still got a 56k modem module around here somewhere.

    1. stuhacking

      I remember

      When Palm went the way of the Apple (by removing the screw on backplate) it was time for a lot of folks to jump over to Handspring. I never actually owned any extra modules because even then it felt like the slow death of PDAs was beginning and 'smarter phones' were on the rise.

      I do miss graffiti though.

  13. jubtastic1

    How quickly people forget

    That when webapps were all that were available for 3rd party developers at the release of iOS, pretty much everybody moaned for a native SDK.

    News Flash, HTML/CSS/Javascript based webapps never went away, they don't need to be submitted to the Appstore and you can code them with whatever tool floats your boat.

    Also good luck to RIM with AIR, I'm certain that will turn out nice for Adobe.

  14. flameresistant

    Epic Fail

    Poor Jimbo seems a bit desperate and sad to me. His ass must be so sore from the daily whipping he is bound to be getting from his company's stakeholders.

    That's a really lame attempt to deflect criticism for being very late to the party, having no app strategy, declining market share in their primary market of smart phones and, worse still, Apple starting to nick the corporate business they once completely owned.

    As many others pointed out, Jobsy already failed to convince people that all you needed were web apps. If he couldn't pull it off, Jimbo has no chance.

    What's really funny is that these comparative performance boasts have such a short shelf life and now Jimbo has goaded the Apple faithful bloggers into trying to tear his new product to shreds - when it finally ships that is. Furthermore when the next model of iPad comes out they will have a field day making the PlayBook look like an antiquated POS. You can bet your life that Apple will make the javascript performance great for them without shouting about it themselves.

    Jimbo might just as well have written out a cheque for Apple to run another marketing campaign because it would have cost him less in the long run.

    Apple must be wetting themselves with laughter at this.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nice that it supports multicore, but a shame that neither JavaScript or ActionScript have any language support for threading.

    (I know that's not completely relevant - the OS and browser can still make use of multiple cores and GPUs, but from a development point of view it is).

    And that's the heart of my complaint - there's a presumption here that developers would, by preference, choose to write everything using web stack technologies. That somehow, we're being railroaded away from the 'familiar' environment of Flash, towards native SDKs.

    At least some of the success with the iPhone is the ease with which console developers could port their C++/OpenGL code over. A lot of Android development is by people familiar with Java. And without wishing to sound too snobby, I'm sure that the best Flash and JavaScript developers have previous experience in other programming languages.

  16. Juan Inamillion
    Thumb Up

    @Ivan Headache

    It used to be called the Sonesta, a great hotel often used by rock bands. It's now called the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, Kattengat 1, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, 1012 SZ.

    Allegedly it's still a brilliant hotel (I stayed there many times back then.... apparently...)

  17. Paul Bruneau

    Sounds like he is talking out of his module cavity

    On the issue of the iPhone app store. Yes, Jobs tried to sell web apps as good enough, but I believe this was only because their SDK wasn't ready to publish yet, so he was trying to activate the reality distortion field to stall for time but that time it didn't work.

    The jailbreak developers I'm sure pushed him forward faster than even he wanted to go.

  18. Ivan Headache

    Thanks for the hotel tips

    While the lovely Ivana was recovering in bed today, she decided on the Convent Hotel (just down the road from the Renaissance).

    I wonder if she's trying to tell me something?

  19. Slim

    I think the point has well and truely been missed on this one

    As someone who does not hide his distaste for all things jobsian, I WILL admit for the standard joe bloggs home user, having Native Apps can be more useful at times rather then having WebApps.

    The thing most people have not really mentioned here is the fact that the Playbook is aimed at firstly at Enterprise users, with the general public as a bonus. The main reasons some of the Companies whom I help support are waiting for the Playbook before they even think about tablets, is very simple. The Blackberry Enterprise Server/BES.

    As much as the MD's and CEO's I work with like the look of the iPad's, it has been asked numerous times, "Can we control them from a central location?" and they are usually disapointed when we say "no, not really". It is simply easier on an administration level for larger scale Companies to have a BES infrastructure, add the Playbooks into the servers controlled devices and off we go. Nevermind they can add their Blackberries into the same BES server as the Playbooks.

    It has been an added bonus that with the Blackberries, the in house dev teams can just make a WebApp for something they have made in house and do not need to buy/use/train any software to get their apps to work on their mobile devices. Its even nicer that the same applies to the Playbooks.

    So with very little effort a Dev can make a WebApp, we can load it into BES, download it to a device and we can either have said Web front end as a homepage or as a icon on the menu. That can be done with one Blackberry or 1000 Blackberries with very little more effort involved never mind it will be just as easy on the Playbooks.

    (I will apologise if someone can prove me wrong here, slight ignorance with all things jobsian but) I cannot find a way to do the same thing with a Companies set of iPhones or iPads, I.e. roll out a change to the iphone home page to point towards a WebApp within the local infrastructure OR install a menu icon to them all at once, pointing towards the internal web server.

    Forgetting the things that one Companies hardware and devices can do better then the others, that list is endless and will only spark more debate. The thing that will make the Playbook a success of any kind is that it can be administered from a central location. That's where RIM will always make its numbers until the day that Google or Apple decide to make their version of the BES.

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