You have to make a particularly long journey from Italy: hours and hours by plane to Montreal and at that point a long journey by car to get to Waterloo, a small twin town of Kitchener (the twin cities call them not by chance) in the state of Ontario. Famous above all for the numerous presence of German immigrants who make this city the Munich of Canada, with the second largest Oktoberfest after the Bavarian one. And for the research center on theoretical physics that arose among the fir trees and hills often covered with snow thanks to the money of Research In Motion and the passion for basic research of its visionary CEO Mike Lazaridis, a 47-year-old Greek-Turkish Cypriot graduated (leaving the university of little Waterloo just to found Rim) and convinced that one day the teleportation will be possible thanks to the physics of the Quanti.
However, if you embark on this long journey and get to the town of less than one hundred thousand inhabitants, it turns out that the dozens and dozens of buildings in Rim have recreated a sort of Canadian "mini Silicon Valley" among the fir trees. And that around Rim, one of the main players in the Canadian business, revolve hundreds of companies and suppliers. For example, the double lap relationship with one of the most particular mobile phone companies such as Rogers, practically the Canadian monopolist who owes its name to Ted Rogers, frowning 75-year-old gentleman, one of the richest men in the state and founder of a management course at Ryerson University.
The Rim ecosystem revolves around the intuition in the late nineties that it was possible to create more advanced pagers capable of supporting a complete messaging system. Even email. It was the birth of the Blackberry, practically the only product of the company, which has made a revolution in the world costume in five years, introducing a new way of life in the business world and which is now trying to repeat the same strategy in that consumer with new appliances and new offers for the private market. But by walking through the rooms, the laboratories and the production center of Waterloo, where hundreds and hundreds of Blackberries are assembled (religiously forbidden to take photos of the plants), many things are discovered. First of all, that Rim's secret is not the phones but the software. Rim phones are basically small machines built to run a particular operating system, built with Java. Practically, transferable from model to model of Blackberry, and this is one of the secrets of the continuity and portability of the information and services of the Blackberries themselves from one device to another. Not for this is the software that gives flavor to Rim's recipe.
Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller also explained it in some way by presenting version 2.0 of the iPhone operating system, addressing the issue of synchronizing e-mail with corporate servers via Exchange. “Others – said the Apple executives – use proprietary software that must be installed in the company next to that e-mail server, and which takes care of taking the mail and sending it to the mobile phone. Microsoft's Active Sync instead does it directly from the mail program (and compatibility with iPhone 2.0 will be complete) ".
This "piece" of proprietary mail server software has hitherto been the secret to Rim and Blackberry's success. Installed on the corporate server if corporate mail, installed on the servers of Tim, Vodafone, Wind and 3 as regards the Italian mobile phone carriers, which offer the service to private individuals in consumption mode. In this case, the Rim software on the telco servers "picks up" mail from the private server – constantly checking it in practice – and then sending it to the user's Blackberry.
Blackberry mail is in fact a "push" and not a "pull" mail. That is, instead of having to check or "pull" it away from the sever ("pull"), the user receives it "push" ("push") from the server itself when it arrives in its box. The difference is not insignificant because it means mail in real time. Rim has worked long and well on this idea, basically building an intelligent system that replaces simpler and more powerful technologies such as that of ActiveSync that we saw before, and makes the Canadian company achieve the impossible: bring mail on proprietary mobile phones .
But for the move to be successful, the Blackberry must have, in addition to its operating system and the various software for viewing the mail and calendars and address book, also a piece of software, a stack that has the function of managing the entry and the outgoing mail in agreement with the Rim server. A sort of interpreter-locator that manages the connection, the "presence" of the device on the network (depending on which cell provides the connection) and its relationship with the e-mail server. This precious Blackberry stack is practically as valid as the Coca Cola formula: all the rest of marketing or packaging, side dish and not substance. This stack, however, hides a secret.
For a long time, by visiting Rim's factories and research center, you can enter a laboratory where Rim's technicians work not on Blackberries but on about fifty different smartphones from the competition. Why? To steal the secrets of others' products? No, to bring a smaller version of their stack to those phones too. It already happens with Nokia and Sony-Ericsson, for example: you install the software and the email client of the phone (including the horrible Nokia one, which seems to manage sms) become compatible because they are powered by the Rim server for Blackberries. In practice, how to make your smart phone become a Blackberry.
How come Rim's guys do it? Because they earn a small part of their turnover from the sale of the phones themselves and a lot instead from the licenses to use their technologies. If Fiat, for example, buys their mail management system to give Blackberry to its managers, and some managers don't want it because they don't like the Blackberry device or prefer their own phone, Rim earns less. If you allow Nokia phones etc. to work, and managers use them in Blackberry mode, earn more (increases the total number of licenses that Fiat, in the example, must pay).
This is the long explanation for why the rumor that Rim is looking for iPhone programmers is not only reliable, but also likely. He does not want to change his job: he wants to continue making his own also using this new device. And it's good news for two reasons. The first to open the door even more – if possible – to the corporate world for the iPhone. The second that will allow those who want the Blackberry inside the iPhone to have it while continuing to use Mail for iPhone, which some criticize but only because they have never used a real Blackberry …