Cause and Effect: RIM Buying Dataviz and Dataviz Cancels webOS Docs to Go

Crackberry.com reports that RIM is buying Dataviz, makers of the Microsoft Office document editing application, Documents to Go. It’s not official, but the scuttlebutt is clear:

More interesting than this news from DataViz though is the news they didn’t announce….. they were bought by RIM!! Though neither company has publicly announced it (yet), multiple sources have confirmed to us that RIM recently acquired DataViz for a reported $50 million cash (not material to RIM, so they didn’t have to disclose it publicly as they have done with other acquisitions like the QNX one). Jump on to LinkedIn and you can also quickly find that lots of former DataViz employees have recently switched up their profiles to Research In Motion as their current employer.

And so the other bit of news, as reported by Precentral. com, isn’t terribly surprising: a statement from Dataviz that they’re no longer going to produce a webOS version of their suite. Their statement is full of “Huh?” and “You gotta be kidding me!”, with a dollop of subtle insult thrown in for good measure:

We regret to announce that we have made the difficult decision to not produce a Web OS version of Documents To Go. We understand that our delay in this area has caused much disappointment to our current and very loyal user base. We would like to explain in more detail the reasoning behind our decisions thus far.

Our intention had been to replace the Palm Viewers, which were based on the Documents To Go technology, with a full editing, aftermarket version of Documents To Go. In order to do this in a way that we felt would be most intuitive to users, we wanted to have the full version seamlessly replace the built in viewers. To do this, we needed some technical help from Palm. Because Palm was focusing on other areas at the time (including their very survival), and there was no official information available allowing developers to help ourselves, i.e., an SDK, there was a delay in getting us this information. Rather than do a substantially larger project that would result in a "sub-optimal" user experience, we decided to wait. This wait was much longer than anyone at DataViz expected. During this wait, we focused our efforts on other smartphone platforms, not because we were not loyal to Palm, but because it made "business sense" to do so. We have now come to the realization that it is not in DataViz’ nor our users’ best interests to continue the wait and produce the full version. We understand that another developer has chosen to create an editing Office product for webOS and we wish them the best. Again, we apologize to our users for taking this long to reach, what is for DataViz and many of our users, a disappointing conclusion. [Emphasis added.]

I think it’s safe to say that there’s an easily-drawn conclusion here: RIM doesn’t want Dataviz sharing the Docs to Go love on any platform but Blackberry. And honestly, I can’t blame them. For a “mere” $50 million (a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the $1.2 billion that HP spent on Palm), RIM likely relishes the thought of cornering the market on this particular application. And RIM needs everything it can get at this point to build some kind of unique value in the face of increasingly stiff competition.

At the same time, it’s not like the webOS community hasn’t gotten over this long ago. We’ll be glad to welcome Quickoffice into the fold when they release their editing suite once webOS 2.0 is released, particularly given their general excitement about the platform.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Dataviz: It’s been reported extensively and for some time now how Dataviz has refused to communicate their webOS intentions clearly, and now—given a likely purchase by RIM—they’ve completely abandoned webOS. They were given the opportunity to produce the document viewer client for webOS for the Pre’s launch in June, 2009, and since then the community has heard nothing but poor excuses for a lack of process. Their most recent statement was a real stab in the back to Palm, long-time Palm enthusiasts, and current w…. [...]

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