If RIM could port its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) security APIs to Windows Phone 7 and clean up some of the UI misfires in Windows Phone 7 (unreadable message text, for example), it would have a compelling messaging device with a much more intuitive UI that would appeal to both its traditional older-adult users and the socially centered young users. It would no longer be a way-behind-the-curve iOS wannabe, but a modern device for those who want to communicate. In other words, it would play to its strengths in a modern context.
If RIM can't bring itself to do that, maybe Nokia should buy RIM and do the security and usability modifications to Windows Phone 7 to gain the high security capabilities so beloved by CSOs, then use the BlackBerry brand for these modern messagers. That would help Nokia stand out from the coming crowd of Windows Phone devices. (Nokia's Lumia smartphones use the stock Windows Phone OS, though Nokia has added a few custom apps, and it has promised to work with Microsoft to advance the platform for future smartphones.)
It will be necessary for Nokia to distinguish itself from the Windows Phone 7 crowd, where companies such as HTC and Samsung offer solid hardware already and where I believe Windows Phone 7 will lose out to the more capable Android. (Unlike Nokia, the other device makers have their eggs in both the Windows Phone 7 and Android baskets, so they don't need Windows Phone to succeed to stay in business.) Reworking a version of Windows Phone 7 as a BlackBerry messaging device could be just the ticket, especially given Nokia's ambitions of appealing to buyers in developing countries, where bandwidth is low and pricey, as well as smartphone-hungry consumers in industrialized regions such as North America, Europe, and east Asia.
If RIM or Nokia doesn't seize the Windows Phone 7-based BlackBerry opportunity, then maybe Microsoft or some other smartphone manufacturer could add the level of security found in iOS, Android 3, and the long-dead Windows Mobile to Windows Phone -- that's proven enough for the vast majority of users -- and sell a usability-tweaked version of Windows Phone 7 as what I call the Raspberry.
There's a big enough subset of people who want a modern mobile messaging device, and Windows Phone 7 is close to meeting their needs. With a few adjustments, it could save the BlackBerry or at least preserve the BlackBerry's strengths in a new "Raspberry" vehicle.
This article, "How RIM can save BlackBerry: Adopt Windows Phone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.