Is RIM its own worst enemy? [Updated]

It’s well documented on this blog that I’ve had my doubts about RIM’s mobile strategy to fend off Apple and Google’s ever increasing market share gains. The PlayBook was announced in September 2010 to great fanfare, and now nearly six months later not one unit has shown up on store shelves. Then I thought RIM might actually have a chance against its tough competitors with the TAT acquisition.

Then I read this. Jamie Murai, an eager developer looking to write apps for the PlayBook, got so frustrated with the paperwork and unfriendly tools that he finally gave up:

So it was at this point that I decided to surrender. Knowing what a pleasure it is to use Apple and Google’s tools, there was no way I could justify continuing with Playbook development. I thought this story would end there. Unfortunately, there was one more little jab you were still able to get in, RIM. This afternoon, Google Notifier informs me that I’ve received an email from you. Naturally, I assumed that it was just a confirmation that my App World account had been approved, considering I had filled out your forms truthfully and completely, just as you had asked. However, I was surprised to find that it was, in fact, a request for more personal information. You wanted me to print off a notarized statement of identification form, fill it out, take it to notary with government issue ID to have it notarized, and then return it to you so that you could be absolutely sure with 100% accuracy that I was who I said I was. I think it goes without saying at this point, but neither Apple nor Google require you to do anything even close to that.

This is perilous for RIM and an obstacle to PlayBook’s potential success. RIM can show off a dozen PlayBooks at CES, dangle the tablet on stage in front of an audience at MWC, or demo a fantastic user interface — but without developers creating useful and fun apps, the PlayBook risks becoming an expensive paperweight.

Is this why there’s a rumor about the PlayBook being able to run Android apps? Because RIM isn’t seeing a lot of developers sign up for the PlayBook?

And the scary thing is that both Apple iOS and Google Android are way, way, way ahead of RIM in terms of number of apps. RIM has to face the reality that it needs to attract developers at a fast and furious pace, cheaply. If the frustration from Murai and his developer peers is not addressed quickly, then it won’t surprise me to see the PlayBook go down in flames in a hurry.


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