The BlackBerry 10 (BB 10) phones that were introduced this week feature a spiffy operating system and lots of applications for a new OS. But are the phones enough to keep enterprises from defecting?
The Company Formerly Known as Research In Motion demonstrated its two new handsets: the Z10 with an all-touch screen and the Q10 with a touch screen and a physical keyboard. The company also announced it had changed its name to BlackBerry. So when I refer to BlackBerry, it's the company.
The Z10 could be considered BlackBerry's flagship. It features a 4.2-inch display with a 1,280x768 resolution, a 1.5 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, an eight-megapixel back camera, a two-megapixel front camera, 1,080p video recording, NFC, and a user-replaceable battery.
The Q10 has similar specifications, but the screen is 3.1 inches and has a 720x720 resolution.
The Z10 is expected to be available at US cellular operators in March and cost $200 with a two-year contract. The Q10 will ship in April. The reviews of the Z10 have been good, though not spectacular. It has no physical buttons on the front, because BB 10 is based on numerous swiping gestures. At first glance, it's not entirely intuitive, but tutorials will be included with the phone and are available on the web.
The new OS has definite advantages for enterprises. The browser has been redesigned and is possibly the most HTML5-compliant browser on the market, which will be especially useful for corporate web apps.
It has the same great push email integrated into a new BlackBerry Hub, which can include different email and social networking accounts. That isn't a unique concept, but it can be convenient for business users who need to track multiple accounts quickly.
Also convenient is the BlackBerry Remember application, which can store documents, photos, videos, and voice notes in folders. This application is integrated with Evernote, the note-saving program many employees love. One of the most interesting features is the new video chat app that lets one user share the phone's screen with a second user, so they can view the same documents, photos, and videos.
As expected, the phones include all the privacy, security, and device management software that IT departments know and love, including BlackBerry Balance. This very useful program sandboxes personal and business apps on two different screens, so corporate email and Twitter accounts are kept separate from personal accounts. Also, data can't be transferred between business and personal apps. IT departments can configure and wipe business apps remotely.
BlackBerry Balance requires the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, so consumers without corporate accounts won't even see Balance on their phones. However, Balance is definitely designed for the millions of consumers-as-employees who bring their own iPhones and Android phones to work. Balance was developed in part to keep employees from deserting BlackBerry.
As a personal phone, the Z10 has promise. It includes several new programs, including Story Maker for creating videos from video clips, photos, and music, along with new camera software for picking the best photo from several shots. BlackBerry's revitalized software developer program has done a great job getting 70,000 apps for the new OS, and more are on the way.
As a result of BB 10, enterprises that have standardized on BlackBerry's phones will have an easier time persuading employees to try the more consumer-oriented handsets, rather than demanding their own phones. Also, lovers of the company's physical keyboards might love the Q10, though the screen is too small for a consumer phone.
However, the promise of BB 10 has yet to be fulfilled. Many BB 10 apps are ports from Android apps and aren't as good as either the original Android apps or similar iPhone apps.
In addition, BlackBerry doesn't offer the ecosystems of Apple, Microsoft, and Google. The company doesn't have a desktop/laptop operating system like OS X, Windows 8, or even Chrome OS that integrates devices through Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's SkyDrive, and Google Drive, respectively. Consumers and enterprises are increasingly relying on these capabilities.
Except for users who must have BlackBerry's email or the best physical keyboard, so far nothing about BB 10 -- the OS, the phone hardware, or the applications -- will make most employees with iPhones and Android phones scream, "I must have it!" BB 10 is good, but it doesn't seem significantly better than the other operating systems.
A lot of times it's those companies that can create a new model - like Gilette with the razor blade vs the razor or, as you say, the App Store vs the hardware - that reshape the market and dominate. Until the next leader.
When I think of how invincible Microsoft, RIM, Netscape, and even AOL appeared at their prime, it's tough to imagine the current undisputed kings, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google, facing a similar decline.
Which of those brands and technologies, if any, will still be ascendant in 10 years?
You are right. Other providers have outages but did they last as long as BB? I just remember one last year where they said they didn't know how long it would last and it was out for about 4 or 5 days.
The last BB phone I used the Storm 9530, i think that was the model. Horrible Device compared to the Droids or Iphone. I remember you had to push the screen till it clicked to select anything. I havn't used any BB devices since then but I hope they changed that atleast.
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