I was out at lunch the other day with an avid Blackberry user. He was showing off his new Curve, as gadget people are wont to do. He was clearly pretty chuffed with it, but then started to have the odd gripe, such as about how unintuitive some of the functions were (from memory, Mute was one of these).
The sun was high and the wine was flowing at SPQR on Auckland’s Ponsonby Road, makers of the best linguini with scampi tails in the universe, when I had a revelation, or at least I think I had one: why doesn’t Apple buy RIM?
Let’s explore this a moment.
The Blackberry has great enterprise-strength telephony and mail technology, but doesn’t have wi-fi. The iPhone has wi-fi, but it scares CIOs out of their enterprise-strength pants on a number of fronts. The Blackberry might be a bit unintuitive, but that’s nothing Apple’s whizzes couldn’t fix.
What do you get if you add the customer bases together? Well, clearly it’s early days for the iPhone, but it looks as if the consumer and small business market is where it will succeed for now. The Blackberry is just starting to push down into the SMB area. From that point of view it’s a match made in heaven.
Of course there would be a few issues to be resolved, with the iPhone built on Unix and the Blackberry on proprietary C++ and Java, but on a sunny afternoon at SPQR it all made perfect sense.
On a different note, a few days later I logged into my Hotmail account to find several years’ worth of probably worthless mail gone. Deleted by Microsoft courtesy of a policy that if you don’t log in after 30 days they can just wipe your account.
While trying to work out what was going on, I came across a pretty lively discussion on Tom Raftery’s blog (Tom Raftery’s Social Media) about the issue. The discussion started in March 2006 and attracted the attention of then Microsoft evangelist Robert “the Scobleiser” Scoble, who forwarded the issue to the Hotmail team.
A comment of two later he came back with: “Thomas, unfortunately there’s nothing we can do to get it back. It was a business rule set years ago. They are changing the business rule in Windows Live to 120 days, though. Sorry, I agree this totally sucks.”
A bit later Omar Shahine, of Windows Live Mail, comments: “Tom, First of all, sorry this happened to you. The only thing I can really do is: 1) Apologise and 2) Tell you that we are working very hard on changing the current policy.
“... Having said all this, I can understand if none of what I am saying matters. All I can do is apologise for what happened, and for the rather restrictive and poor expiration policy and let you know that I don’t consider the current situation acceptable.
“Given the size and scope of the service, decisions like this take a while to work through.”
That was back in early 2006 — the wheels sure turn slowly at Microsoft.