An interesting blog post showed up on Research in Motion’s (RIM) Inside BlackBerry Developer Blog today. The post was penned by Matthew Staikos, RIM’s technical director, Web Technologies, and focuses for the most part on the HTML5 capabilities of the browser RIM will be shipping with the launch of BlackBerry 10 (BB 10) on January 30, 2012. The main thrust of Staikos’ argument for amazing HTML5 support is built around the fact (we acknowledge that RIM’s browser does indeed accomplish this, so we’ll call it fact, rather than simply a claim) that the BB 10 browser scores higher than any other extant mobile or desktop browser in meeting what is known as the Ringmark HTML5 benchmark for HTML5 compatibility. At least in so far as getting to Ring 1 of the benchmark.
Here is an interesting tidbit – the BB 10 browser is completely written in HTML5. Here is another interesting tidbit – as well as where the irony is to be found: Facebook is the author of the Ringmark standard and test suite, which the company developed and then put out into the Open Source community. The suite consists of three rings – 0, 1 and 2. Ring 1 provides basic compatibility testing. To get to Ring 1 requires passing all tests at Ring 0; to get to Ring 2 requires passing all tests at Ring 1. You can test your own browsers directly – simply head over to rng.io and check it out. (You can also run the official HTML5 Test that is being built ongoing at GitHub.)
There are two things here that are of consequence. First, let’s get to the irony of the whole thing. Facebook is the creator of Ringmark, and it created the suite in order to help its own developers understand what they might be able to expect from the wide range of old and new browsers out in the market. This had been critical to Facebook, since it was developing all of its mobile apps on HTML5. The irony of RIM now touting its superior HTML5 Ringmark score is that Facebook has decided to abandon HTML5 for building its mobile apps, because HTML5 has proven to be too slow for the kind of “twitchy” feedback and response Facebook wants in its apps – read that to mean Facebook needs fast and responsive apps and HTML5 can’t yet deliver as far as Facebook is concerned.
That Facebook has decided to ditch HTML5 – at least in the short term – isn’t particularly harmful to RIM boasting about its HTML5 support. But just as RIM recently made a big deal about achieving FIPS-2 security certification, as well as making a lot of noise about the other features of its BlackBerry 10 operating system, the company unfortunately strikes us as being far too reliant on its software capabilities. While it is cool that its BB 10 browser offers great HTML5 support, that simply isn’t going to win over any consumers. Among the 80 million subscribers it does have it will likely find plenty of enthusiasm, but it won’t convince new non-RIM consumers to suddenly drop their iPhones, Galaxies or any of the upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices and make a switch.
The ongoing reliance on software leads us to think a lot about where RIM is going to go with its marketing efforts – it doesn’t leave us full of enthusiasm for what is libel to show up on the airwaves. Or what a RIM Super Bowl commercial might end up being. If RIM chooses to focus on the software and if its hardware doesn’t enthrall new consumers, we certainly hope that Samsung is waiting in the wings to make an acquisition. In any case, we’ll know come January 30, 2013.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo