Google will end support for the Blackberry version of its Gmail app, a decision that is yet another blow to the once dominant business-centric phone brand. In a statement, Google said it will focus on "building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser," but clearly by yanking out its official Blackberry app it just has no sustained interest in the fledgling smartphone platform.
Research in Motion has managed to lose double-digit market share over the last year, in a market that has historically been slow to change. But Android and iPhone have spun the industry around like no one could have predicted.
RIM responded to Google's decision with the following statement:
"Since 2009, RIM has incorporated native support for Gmail in BlackBerry [operating system] 5.0 and above, which means that a separate Gmail app is not required. The large majority of users who access Gmail on their BlackBerry smart phone already rely on the native support (provided through BlackBerry Internet Service) rather than the separate Gmail app."
So the company is downplaying the significance of Google's move. And perhaps it isn't really a big deal for the end user. But it is very symbolic that one of the largest companies in the mobile space is weakening its support for Blackberry.
RIM hopes to revive the brand next year with a brand new operating system, an operating system that finally ditches the decades-old look and feel of Blackberry in favor of a completely refreshed design. It's something RIM should have done two or three years ago. The question is if doing it now will be too little too late.