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I actually agree with your "tail-wags-the-dog" sentiment, especially when Dan Dodge (former head of QNX) is now a senior RIM VP. It isn't a bad thing at all; QNX has a solid business all their own and now it broadens RIM's reach and increases its potential market.
The Palm comparison only works on a superficial level, though. For one thing, RIM is still profitable, with a fair wad of cash in the bank. They actually have time to make this work. Palm MIGHT have made it work with more money, and getting acquired by a company for whom mobile wasn't a core business didn't help them out at all.
There are a few very important areas where the RIM/Palm comparison falls apart: 1) RIM has made a couple of crucial acquisitions with QNX and TAT, essentially buying the most important parts of the OS. 2) Portability is going to be key to BB10's success; the ability to port apps (extremely) easily from iOS and Android means it's very easy for a developer to decide to support the platform. 3) It's a "content" market now, not a "device" market, and RIM has some pretty good partnerships. Their music store is actually very good now, and in some ways I prefer it to iTunes. Music is roughly the same price, and, like Apple, there's no DRM. Palm had no such partnerships.
Yes, I agree. The raw data is only as useful as its interpretation. If the resources aren't out there to conduct that interpretation properly, then it invalidates the whole approach.
This is not to far away from the rape kits that have been stockpiled all over the US because the money isn't there to send them off to the crime lab.
GPS tracking is an outstanding concept. It allows convicts to live out in the world, with the understanding that if they cross certain geographic boundaries, they run the risk of intervention from the law. This can aid rehabilitation, if those boundaries are enforced, and it saves a pantload of money on housing them in jail.
One use I'd like to see: many repeat drunk drivers find ways to get access to vehicles, even with lifetime license bans. Set an alert on such a convict so that if they're travelling over, say, 30 mph, it sends an alert and if there's a patrol nearby, get them to pull the vehicle over and see if the convict is the one behind the wheel. Even if he isn't, it sends the message that he is always running the risk of being caught...