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President Obama checks messages on his favorite device, the BlackBerry.
Washington "can't quit" love affair with BlackBerry; Dr. Nono Pearson hopes to pony up some cash for RIM loving

Canadian smartphone-maker Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) is facing a dire decline in the consumer market, falling to just over  4 percent market share of recent sales and around 12 percent of the overall deployed smartphone market by some estimates.  But there's still a place where the love affair consumers once had with RIM burns strong.

I. RIM's Last Stronghold

That place is Washington D.C.

While the world is abandoning BlackBerry, the U.S. government can't quite cut the cord.  They remain enamored with the classic RIM design.  While most modern smartphone fill their face-space with vast touch screens, much of RIM's lineup sticks to it tried and true physical keyboard -- which many say is the best in the industry.  Paired with a smaller display, the setup is perfect for hammering out fast emails.  And RIM's services make sure your emails, instant messages, and SMS messages are securely encrypted -- a must at a time of heightening cyber-tensions between Beijing and The Hill.

A piece in The Washington Post chronicles how pervasive BlackBerries remain in the federal government.  The "vast majority" of the 12,000 government issued smartphones from the General Services Administration -- the independent government agency tasked with supporting various federal agencies and politicians (sort of like an "IT department" for The Hill) -- are Blackberries, according to the report.

The GSA's chief information officer, Casey Coleman, states, "We appreciate RIM’s focus on security, which is paramount for government use."

Only a handful of Android smartphones or Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhones have been allowed, according to the GSA.  The GSA cites the low cost of ownership of Blackberries as another purchase driver -- in an era where everyone is complaining about government waste, amazingly the government acknowledges that buying its employees pricey iPhones would be wasteful.

Support for the iconic smartphone reaches high in the capital.  President Barack Obama (D) is a devote BlackBerry user, and most of his staff are converts as well.

II. iPhone is Horning Its Way Into D.C. Circles

But times may be changing in Washington D.C.

The report states that Congress has relaxed rules banning use of "other" smartphones from Congress sessions.  Many Senators and Representatives -- and their aides -- are inadvertently spearheading the effort to drive the BlackBerry out of Washington by bringing rival smartphones to the Capitol's halls.  Reportedly, the iPhone is the favorite pick of those in Congress who eschew the traditional BlackBerry.

Even Casey Coleman acknowledges that the love of BlackBerry could eventually die out.  He states, "[The GSA places] priority on adoption, where appropriate, of innovative new technologies."

But such change will likely come at more of a creeping pace than a frantic dash.  In the meantime, some users are finding it hard to love their BlackBerries.  Paul Silder, a 44-year-old Department of Homeland Security employee gripes, "I want a bigger screen. I only really use it for work, but it would be nice to surf the Web more easily."

Many agencies maintain their own internal phone support and policies and don't use the GSA's services.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the State Department, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs today all make heavy use of the iPhone.  And Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been offering free promotion to Apple's tablet, the iPad, which they say is the perfect education device.  RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is not even mentioned in the conversation.

iPhone Washington
The iPhone is picking up steam in D.C. [Image Source: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]

As a sign of just how much some government employees want to leave RIM, some agencies have offered a clever ultimatum -- keep the BlackBerry, or buy an alternate device yourself.  Christina Cox, a Washington events planner is among those who paid for an iPhone out of her own pockets.  She loves the phone, which is on America's largest network, Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD).

She comments, "Everyone used to have a BlackBerry in town, but I need more than just e-mail."

RIM, for its part, is trying with bolder touchscreen designs such as the leaked "London" design, which will launch later this year, endowed with LTE and the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.  But the progress may be for naught.  First, some feel it is too little too late. Secondly, many feel that what users love most about BlackBerry is also what they hate most about it -- the bulky, yet efficient physical keyboard.  A touch-screen BlackBerry just doesn't have the same appeal to some, who revel in poking fun at their iPhone-using friends' autocorrect woes -- increasingly a source of embarrassment in the capital.

With RIM a potential sales candidate, the U.S. federal government is expected to play a key role in deciding who is and isn't eligible to purchase it, should it go on the auction block.  Many believe that as RIM devices vanish from the consumer market, Washington D.C. will remain RIM's last major business.

Scott Totzke, a RIM senior vice president, isn't ready to concede that scenario yet, but he acknowledges the vital role of the U.S. capital city, stating, "The federal government is a very important market to us and will continue to be. It is our core strength."

III. Rapper Aims to Buy RIM

On a more humorous note corporate-country rap artists (no, you did not misread that) Dr. Nono C. Pearson has created much amusement with a bid to buy RIM.

According to the rapper's plan, explained in press releases carried by MSNBC and the Wall Street Journal, the artist's company United Vision Marketing Firm (UVMF) will offer an initial public offering (IPO) to raise $1.5B USD.  As part of the bizarre plan, Dr. Pearson will give away 1 million shares of pre-IPO UVMF to a rap artist...for the best verse of what the UVMF family describes as "Corporate Hip Hop". The content of the verse is expected to be about making legitimate corporate moves with a street swag delivery.

Dr. Nono Pearson
Dr. Nono Pearson wants to buy RIM -- he claims the offer is no bull. [Image Source: UVMF]

The rapper is reportedly trying to get 50-Cent on board.

He already has notorious cocaine dealer Real Freeway Ricky Ross (not to be confused with the ex-corrections officer turned "gangster" rapper Rick Ross) on his "board".  Mr. Ross made an estimated $600M USD in the 1980s and early 1990s, before being arrested in 1996 for trying to purchase 100 kg of cocaine from an undercover federal officer.  Mr. Ross was released in 2009 after a reduced sentence of 13 years for good behavior and is rumored to have retained much of his fortune.

Now the ex-convict hopes to go from selling crack to helping Dr. Pearson sell "crackberries".

Freeway Ricky Ross
Ex-cocaine kingpin "Freeway" Ricky Ross (center) wants to help Dr. Pearson buy RIM.
[Image Source: Kings of Swag]

Dr. Pearson also gave charitable donations of UVMF pre-IPO shares to Howard University (a traditionally "black" university) and Harvard University (a university attended by many prominent African American scholars, including W.E.B. DuBois).

The company's plan is to use the acquired RIM assets to release a $100 educational tablet for disadvantaged youth called the Pearson Education Tablet (PET).  The supposed tablet would fight child obesity, while promoting literacy and entrepreneurship.  His company's about us page promises "Our team players are experinced (sic)... we are not out to exploit you to make a quick buck."

The rapper-turned-hopeful-mogul comments, "Getting this deal done is very personal to me. I was once an at risk youth, diagnosed with ADHD and a high school dropout. I finally woke up and realized that my teachers cared enough about me to tell me where I was going wrong and how to correct my actions. Because they spoke to the King in me, my life has changed dramatically. I am far from perfect but I feel that I am now in a better position to help teachers by being a positive role model for students. The students can never say that I don't know what they are going through. Plus it doesn't hurt to be a Pearson when attempting to help reform education. I guess you can say it's in the DNA."

The rapper, who claims to have "the copyrights to prove that he is the owner of what he calls 'Corporate Hip Hop'", writes on RIM:

The team at UVMF feels the move is perfect timing on how to better leverage itself against other device makers. The deal will help the development of UVMF'S $1.6 Billion proposed Pearson Education Tablet (PET), take UVMF public and develop a new brand imaging campaign for Black Berry Products using UVMF's entertainment ties.

The group is also collecting donations, which they claim will be used to buy 1 million children PET devices.  So far they have raised $5 USD -- 0 percent of their goal, according to the site.

However, unlikely it's highly entertaining to imagine a union of the colorful UVMF with the ill-fated RIM.

Sources: Washington Post, UVMF/Dr. Nono Pearson [via MSNBC PR]

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 11:57:29 AM , Rating: 3
... Some like MS, or Samsung, or anyone else that would otherwise continue with QNX. QNX looks really good and in the hands of non-inept management, it could actually be really worthwile.

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By tayb on 4/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 1:46:45 PM , Rating: 3
"Any smartphone OS not named Windows Phone, Android, or iOS is a waste of time. There won't be app support and it won't penetrate the market at all."

QNX (BB10) is supposed to run Android apps. Its not the old RIM OS by any means. Its a company that RIM bought (2 years too late, but they bought it). RIM already has built in penetration if they can just get this OS out. It really does look good. Its kind of a good combo of Android and WebOS (UI)

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By Pirks on 4/5/12, Rating: -1
RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 3:13:20 PM , Rating: 5
"MS is killing RIM"

MS didnt so anything... RIM killed RIM. RIM is just in its final deathbed getting its affairs in order and preparing for the afterlife LOL.

They had it all. They only had to act on obvious market trends and they just meandered for way too long. They just cant survive now, not with the investors push to retain some of thier $$$. They will have to sell. this is what I have been telling you for teh pst year that you refused to hear. Glad you are finally getting it.

I still think the products will live on though, just not sold by RIM. There is too much money to be made in the enterprise sector with BES and the mail service. If they sell it to a company that can manage themselves, and put it together with a decent phone and OS companies will keep buying it. Hell, I might even buy it.

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By Pirks on 4/5/2012 3:29:19 PM , Rating: 1
Nah, I still don't believe they have to sell :P It's not bad enough yet. When the cash runs out and losses get much more serious than the puny amount last quarter - then maybe.

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 3:39:05 PM , Rating: 3
They dont "have" to sell. They could survive, but the investors that lost thier shirt want to keep thier undies before they are lost as well. This is exactly the point to sell. If you wait until you "have" to sell, you get way less money for it. Basically its a buyers market at that point.

They are already taking steps and looking for a buyer. The price for whatever sections/IP/business units up for sale drops more and more with every month that goes by. Basically the investors are losing more money every day that its not sold.

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By Pirks on 4/5/2012 3:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
Question is will investors lose more money if they sell RIM right now, versus if they wait till RIM rebounds with QNX phones?

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 4:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
There is no rebound. If QNX phones are well received and RIM manages to put it out without too many bugs it will at best stop teh defection in the enterprise sector. RIM just cant operate fast enough and be flexible enough to compete. That is why it will only work if sold to a competant company that knows how to execute in the year 2012. Knowing how to execute a business strategy in the year 2002 is NOT helping RIM.

RE: I hope someone legit buys RIM...
By Pirks on 4/5/2012 4:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know RIM executes 2002 strategy when they seem to understand they need to catch up to iPhone and they do all they can to reach this goal. Sounds pretty much like 2012 to me.

By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 4:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
look at RIM since the iPhone came out. They cannot execute. They know they need to and cant. Even QNX which they have been working with for 2 years already. Where is the phone? 6 months away if not longer. That is not executing, that is time to sell.

Whatever though. You do seem to know whats going on but dont want to accept it.

Paul Silder is a moron and he deserves iPhone
By Pirks on 4/5/2012 1:13:50 PM , Rating: 1
He doesn't know about BB Torch 9850 with its gorgeous 3.7" touchscreen. Well, he deserves promotion to iSheeple then, for being THAT dumb LOL :)))

By retrospooty on 4/5/2012 1:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
"He doesn't know about BB Torch 9850 with its gorgeous 3.7" touchscreen."

RIM is done. Get over the previous product portfolio and stop wasting your time. QNX does look really good. time to accept reality. The question will be who buys it and continues the QNX phone product line (Meaning, RIM's email service and QNX based phones will live on, but not at a company named RIM)

By Pirks on 4/5/2012 2:33:11 PM , Rating: 2
Does your view of RIM make Paul Slider less of a moron? I don't think so.

Doctor Nono?
By Boingo Twang on 4/5/2012 11:57:14 AM , Rating: 2
That's quite the James Bond villain sounding name.

RE: Doctor Nono?
By Quadrillity on 4/5/2012 12:39:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds more like a pron spin off of the James Bond film, "Dr. No"

Getting excited
By BushStar on 4/5/2012 12:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm getting excited about RIM falling. No longer will I have to explain to users that they cannot connect to our Exchange server as we do not have a Blackberry Enterprise Server and even if we did they need a business contract and a Blackberry Enterprise Server CAL.

There's still time yet. I'll change my mind about Blackberry if they change their phones to be more flexible with solutions that are not their own.

RE: Getting excited
By Mitch101 on 4/5/2012 12:57:10 PM , Rating: 2
Your leaving out MDS, Communicator, and security.

While I love my Windows Phone 7 RIM still has the best product for business. Im using the Blackberry Bold with touch screen and enjoying it quite well

Rim had been developing is a product that opens them up to using other smartphones like Good and Mobile Iron they just need to realize they lost the smartphone war its not coming back to blackberries and open it up their boxes to the competing products. You'll get more functionality/control by utilizing a Blackberry device over an active sync device but take what you can get before companies have completely removed their bes boxes and replaced them with something else. Once the BES boxes are out the door its very difficult for them to get back in.

By flyingpants1 on 4/5/2012 5:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
RIM, look at the Lumia 900. That's all you had to make. People would have bought it!

With the recent launch of the Nokia Lumia 900, Microsoft is in a position to grow into a serious competitor in the mobile market.. 5% market share today, tomorrow maybe 20%.

By Pirks on 4/5/2012 7:58:57 PM , Rating: 1
Yep, MS killed RIM, agreed. After Win8 is out RIM is going to have very tough time competing. Too late.

By Mathos on 4/5/2012 12:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just curious.....Why wouldn't the federal government just grab up a bunch of Droid 4's, which would give them a modern handset. It would still have a full physical keyboard for those that prefer it, plus the full size touch screen. And if security is a thing, they could very likely create their own Android OS distro just for secure government use.

Messiah could fix this easily
By Dorkyman on 4/10/2012 12:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand.

Our current occupant of the White House very much believes in a top-down, centralized-planning vision of government, where the educated, correct-thinking class tells the sheeple what to do and what to believe.

So all he has to do is issue an Executive Order that Blackberry (his phone) is and always will be THE phone for government workers. Oh, and make sure his cronies load up on stock before issuing the edict. Can't let a good edict go to waste, you know.

How funny
By Beenthere on 4/5/2012 1:56:54 PM , Rating: 1
We have a dope dealer, a crapper and a charlatan who can't live without a Crackberry. I'd say they could all use professional therapy for their numerous issues.

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