If a contested report at Boy Genius Report is accurate, the curtain may be beginning to go down on BlackBerry and Research In Motion, at least as it is currently constituted.
BGR is reporting that it has sources that say that existing versions of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) won’t support devices based on the company’s new QNX operating system. The report also said that the company is planning to switch platforms and that the incompatibility between the existing BES infrastructure and QNX was the reason the PlayBook tablet didn’t initially come with email or BlackBerry Messenger.
The story describes a scenario in which enterprises must use BES for older BlackBerry deployments and next-generation, or “NG,” servers for new devices. BYTE’s Chris Spera doesn’t mince words when predicting what the approach — if it indeed comes to pass — means for RIM:
Stick BES with a fork, kids, because if this is accurate, RIM is done. The next version of BES, 5.0.4, is a maintenance update, and after that, RIM is closing the books on BES–and the Blackberry way of life.
It is good that Spera conditionalized, because there indeed is some confusion about the accuracy of the original report. RIM released a statement that said the original BGR was wrong. During the evening of Aug. 22, BGR posted another report that said RIM’s response had been confusing and claimed that RIM ultimately confirmed that both BES 5 and BES 10 platforms — either on discrete or a virtualized server — will be necessary to manage all RIM devices.
The basic issue — precisely what enterprises need to do to support both older and new RIM devices — will be sorted out quickly. If, indeed, supporting QNX-based devices with the current infrastructure requires more than incidental tweaks, RIM’s already significant troubles have reached a breaking point. On the other hand, if BES 10 supports both natively or can be easily upgraded to do so, RIM’s situation remains the same. That’s not particularly good, of course, but at least things have not gotten worse.
In any case, it’s a topic that IT managers should watch carefully.