RIM’s Quiet Progress

by Jordan Richardson on April 15, 2010

The last two weeks have seen Research In Motion land a pair of acquisitions, increasing their range and the consumer reach of the BlackBerry and prospective successors. The Waterloo-based wireless device company isn’t just going after any start-ups, however, as their pursuit of new acquisitions has led them to some fairly recognizable ground.

Viigo, a Toronto-based company, was the first to be snapped up. Viigo is tasked with “real-time content delivery” for BlackBerry units, distributing syndicated content and “related media and services” to RIM’s devices.

Viigo has some serious RIM connections, with the company getting started in 2004 by University of Waterloo grad Jay Steele. Many RIM executives are University of Waterloo grads and, what’s more, Viigo wound up being backed by venture capitalists including the BlackBerry Partners Fund.

QNX Software Systems is RIM’s other acquisition. The correlation is clear here, too, with QNX also being founded by Waterloo grads. QNX builds entertainment software for use in automobiles.

The QNX acquisition is perhaps the most interesting one because it provides a peek into RIM’s future. The car gadgets industry has always been delicate, but it looks like RIM has some interest in getting involved with internet-connected vehicles. QNX develops technology that includes real-time operating systems embedded in vehicles, opening up possibilities for internet surfing and navigation.

These acquisitions may not necessarily mean that RIM is planning to forge bold new ground, but it does, at the very least, indicate the company’s rapport with the community. They have long had an “open relationship,” so to speak, with the University of Waterloo grads and tend to find connections within the student body there.

Led by Co-CEO Jim Balsillie and President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, RIM appears to be quietly and succinctly gathering new acquisitions to expand their consumer reach.

While their fourth quarter was below expectations, RIM still hopes to push forward. These new acquisitions may not thrust their fortunes beyond that of a good one-product company just yet, but they do symbolize a perspective that reaches past the BlackBerry and into other arenas of gadgetry and technology.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew April 15, 2010 at 9:37 am

The QNX purchase is about far more then the automotive industry. QNX is a micro-kernel based OS, probably better than OSX and Android. Alec has a very good analysis here: http://saunderslog.com/2010/04/09/rim-didnt-buy-qnx-for-its-auto-business/

RIM will start to slide as the new iPhone ships later this summer with iPhone OS 4, RIM knows they need a new OS, it is what is holding them back from competing with the iPhones to come in the near future. QNX is the answer.

Jordan Richardson April 15, 2010 at 10:19 am

Indeed it is about more than the automotive industry, as Alec notes. He might even be on to the larger story with his analysis. But RIM seems to want to hype the hell out of the BlackBerry/automotive connection and the Neutrino real-time operating system that will give them a bit of ground in “smart appliance integration.” Lazaridis is really emphasizing the connection between the smart phones and in-dash navigation, too.

Everyone from PC World to Ars Technica is hyping the auto connection, so kudos to you on shedding light on another aspect of this story. Thanks, Andrew!

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