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技术

黑莓:霉运当头,人心思变

Dan Mitchell 2011年10月14日

先是莫名其妙地推出了一项让人大失所望的“新功能”,随后是大范围的网络瘫痪。RIM还能干点好事吗?

    很难找到一个恰当的形象来比喻黑莓手机生产商Research in Motion。启斯东警察(The Keystone Kops——默片时代的系列滑稽喜剧电影的主人公,一群笨手笨脚的警察——译注)或许算是一个现成的选择,但RIM的问题并非都是自作自受。《旧约》(The Old Testament)里的约伯(Job)?也不尽然,因为RIM的大多数麻烦都是自找的。穿着启斯东警察制服的约伯?或者也许更准确的比喻是《发展受阻》(Arrested Development)里的高博(Gob,美剧里的一名魔术师,成事不足,败事有余,而且有点异想天开),但却穿着一身启斯东警察的制服。

    RIM联合首席执行官吉姆•贝尔斯利本周在迪拜发表演讲,推出了应用于该公司黑莓(BlackBerry)手机的一项新的创新功能,结果备受嘲笑,因为这项功能既不新鲜,又缺乏创新。而且就在贝尔斯利演讲后不久,迪拜及周边的广大地区——中东、亚洲、欧洲和非洲——就遭遇了黑莓网络瘫痪事故。现在,网络故障已经进入第三天,而且已经扩散至北美和南美。周三早间的报道称,美国部分地区也已受到影响。

    一开始,RIM将故障归咎于英国斯劳某数据中心出现的设备故障。这座城市正是英国原创电视连续剧《办公室》(The Office)中造纸商Wernham Hogg的一家分公司所在地,也是分公司经理戴维•布伦特的家乡。(好吧,比喻就到此为止)。

    网络瘫痪发生之前,贝尔斯利向全世界介绍了Tag,这一功能使得两部手机间可通过轻点实现联络人信息共享。是不是听起来有些耳熟?没错。类似的应用虽然技术基础也许不同,但在iPhone和安卓(Android)手机上已经存在了好几年。更难堪的是,就算在这些手机上这项功能也从未受到特别欢迎。

    此外,彭博新闻社(Bloomberg News)的报道称,由于备份数据不断堆积,必须迅速解决网络瘫痪问题。否则,RIM可能不得不牺牲一些客户数据,也就是电子邮件及诸如此类的数据,才能解决问题。这正是投资者想听到的。

    不过,截至周三午盘,RIM股价走势仍基本平稳。投资者或许认为,所有这些麻烦预示着某些重大的事情可能会提前发生,比如产生新的领导层,甚至可能是收购。无论是哪种情况,显然需要发生点什么。

    It's hard to come up with a good metaphor for Research in Motion. The Keystone Kops is an easy one, but not all of RIM's troubles are of its own making. The Old Testament character Job? Also not quite right, because most of RIM's troubles are of its own making. How about Job in a Keystone Kops uniform? Or even better, Arrested Development's Gob in a Keystone Kops uniform.

    This week co-CEO Jim Balsillie, during a speech in Dubai, introduced a new innovation for the company's BlackBerry (RIMM) phone that has been widely ridiculed as not new and not innovative. And soon after his presentation, Dubai and a rather wide area surrounding it -- the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Africa -- was hit with a BlackBerry network outage. Now in its third day, the outage is spreading to North and South America. Early reports on Wednesday said parts of the United States are affected.

    At first, the company blamed equipment failure in its facility in Slough, England. That city, of course is home to a branch of the Wernham Hogg paper company from the original British version of The Office, and to its office manager, David Brent. (But enough with the metaphors.)

    Before the outage, Balsillie introduced the world to Tag, a feature that allows the sharing of contact info between two phones by tapping them together. Sound familiar? Sure it does. A similar app, though based on a different technology, has been available for both the iPhone and Android phones for years now. Even worse, the feature on those phones was never particularly popular.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg News is reporting that the outage problem must be solved quickly because of a mounting data backup. If it isn't resolved soon, RIM might have to sacrifice some customer data - that is, emails and whatnot -- to fix the problem. Just the thing investors want to hear.

    Still, the stock is trading about even as of midday Wednesday. Investors might see all this trouble as a sign that something big will happen sooner rather than later -- new leadership, or maybe a takeover. In any case, it's clear that something needs to happen.

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