RIM Abandons Customers (again)

I am starting to feel bad about beating up on RIM, but it is just so easy. Their latest misstep? They announced Blackberry OS 7, and it is only available on new devices that can support it. Do you want the new OS on your older devices? Too bad, you can’t have it. Did you buy one of the models that does support the new OS before it was released? Too bad, you can’t have it.

Okay, to be fair, Apple did abandon older iPhones and iPod Touch users when iOS 4 came out, and the iPhone model (the iPhone 3G) that supposedly supported the OS didn’t do it very well. But, the flip side of it is that Apple did abandon a group of users that had, for the most part, already replaced their phones. It still isn’t very nice for those who are still using these older devices, so that’s more of an excuse than a reason.

But RIM has, in the past 18 months, abandoned users a couple of times. When Blackberry OS 6 came it, it too, was only available on newer devices, and there was no upgrade path for older machines. It also meant that developers had to upgrade their apps (or rewrite them, from what I’ve heard) to support the new OS. I haven’t checked yet, but I’m expecting that developers won’t see as much pain, given that Blackberry OS 7 was originally going to be an upgrade to version 6, rather than an outright replacement.

So, now developers have to figure out which of the universe of Blackberry devices they want to target: version 5, 6 or 7, or Playbook. Users have to pay attention to which device they buy, so that they don’t find themselves locked into an operating system they may not want and that may not see much in the way of fixes and such. IT departments that still use Blackberry have to do the same thing.

This continues to prove my assertion that RIM is making phones that happen to have some smarts, rather than little computers that happen to make phone calls. It’s as if they can’t be bothered to think about the implications of software upgrades, and simply release new stuff because they feel like it. And RIM wonders why they get no respect, and why they are losing market share.