RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie has responded to Steve Jobs’ disses from yesterday’s Apple earnings call, slapping Jobs with a blog post called “RIM Responds to Apple’s ‘Distortion Field’.”
In his post, Balsillie argues that 7-inch tablets (like RIM’s forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook) will “actually be a big portion of the market” and that Adobe Flash support “actually matters,” despite Jobs’ trashing them both.
And he says that Jobs’ boasting about Apple’s iPhone sales being bigger than RIM’s BlackBerry sales don’t mean squat, because Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter includes September, when handset sales are big, and RIM’s most recent quarter ended in August. (This is a fair point.)
What Balsillie doesn’t address, however, is Jobs’ bigger-picture smackdown: That RIM is in decline and needs to reinvent itself as a software platform company. (As we’ve said, RIM is the new Palm.) That is something that RIM still has not answered sufficiently — neither in this blog post, nor to developers, investors, or consumers in general.
It’s too early to tell how this will shake out, of course. But it will be interesting to see if buyers actually care about Flash support on tablets, and if 7-inch tablets are big enough to differentiate from smartphones — an idea Jobs trashed last night.
Here’s Balsillie’s statement:
For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7″ tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 – 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders. As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.
– Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at Research In Motion (RIM)