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BlackBerry's last stand: fashionably late, or too late to matter?

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January 30, 2013

Will the BlackBerry Z10 be enough to revive the struggling company?

Will the BlackBerry Z10 be enough to revive the struggling company?

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“Better late than never.” We’ve all uttered the phrase at some point. But, in the ultra-fast-moving smartphone market – where last year’s model is considered a relic – “late” is practically synonymous with “dead.” Will that hold true for BlackBerry? Or does the Canadian company have a glimmer of hope? We’ll soon find out.

So long, RIM

As of today, Research in Motion (RIM) is no more. Not because it was broken up and sold for parts, but because the company renamed itself after its only hope. RIM is now BlackBerry.

It’s a smart move, and only accentuates how much the company is depending on the success of its new phones and operating system.

BB10

It's appropriate that one of BB10's killer features is its keyboard

Fortunately for fans of the Waterloo-based company, it’s changing more than its name. BlackBerry 10 (BB10) is its reinvented mobile operating system, which finally embraces multitouch. The operating system is smooth, polished, and has some innovative new features.

For a company that was long known for its QWERTY keyboard-laden phones, it’s appropriate that BB10’s killer feature may be its software keyboard. The BB10 keyboard introduces a new kind of predictive typing. Tap the first letter of a word, and the keyboard will give you tiny suggestions, hovering above keys. If you see what you’re looking for, swipe up on it to select.

BB10 is heavily gesture-based. This bleeds into BlackBerry flow, a system-wide concept that lets application tasks seamlessly flow into each other. For instance, you can tap on a contact’s picture in another app to instantly bring up his Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile. It attempts to connect your tasks without the appearance of exiting one application and entering another.

Phones

The Q10 (left) is an homage to RIM's past, while the Z10 looks forward to BlackBerry's des...

You can’t transition from QWERTY to multitouch while using the same old hardware. Enter the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10. The Z10 is the company’s first iPhone or Android phone competitor, while the Q10 throws a bone to the past with a full QWERTY keyboard.

The phones’ internals are nearly identical. Both sport 1.5GHz dual core chips with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. They both support speedy LTE networks, and global roaming.

The Z10 launches first, in the UK tomorrow, Canada on February 5, and the U.S. in March. A more expansive global launch follows in April. Pricing varies by region, but they’ll cost an iPhone-ish US$200 in the states.

Stay tuned to Gizmag for a more thorough look at the phones compared to popular rivals.

Too late?

Is the BlackBerry overhaul better late than never, or too little too late? We’ll soon know. But, no matter how optimistic you are about the Canadian company’s future, the stakes are high and the odds are long.

Source: BlackBerry [1] [2] [3] [4]

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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11 Comments

RIMM should make Android phones. Its not that complicated.

Michael Mantion
30th January, 2013 @ 05:22 pm PST

I've never owned a BlackBerry, but I hope they sell really well. The more competition, the better.

Jarris Fuller
30th January, 2013 @ 06:58 pm PST

RIMM cant just make android phones, they are not secure and securing your information is what they do best.

Bruce Nichols
30th January, 2013 @ 10:34 pm PST

Android is quite different to Blackberry OS and does not have the advantages of the Blackberry Internet Service, which provides very cheap, very robust data services. It's the main reason why I still use a BB and not another phone.

I'm more keen to see what happens with Blackberry's plans to license the platform to other vendors. A Samsung phone using BIS would be worth a look.

Blahsum
31st January, 2013 @ 02:04 am PST

How about a QWERTY on one side and touch on the other side? Two fronts, no back.

David Armour
31st January, 2013 @ 04:11 am PST

This is what happens when too many businessmen get together and call the financial shots. They don't keep up with what people actually want and need because of what the competition offers. Too little too late in a see of look alike.

33Nick
31st January, 2013 @ 10:05 am PST

I don't know if more competition is necessarily better. It's just more choices to confuse people and more work if a developer wants to write code for it. From the various surveys of app developers for smartphones, their Number 1 priority is iOS at around 90% of the developers are writing code for, then Android at around 80% and then WIndows at around 30% and then the rest at around 10 to maybe 20%. Blackberry was at the bottom at around 10%. So, if you buy the Blackberry, chances are pretty good that you won't be able to find the app you want on that platform.

Too much competition creates too much confusion and what happens is that many of them go out of business because they can only compete based on price and that doesn't promote a sustainable solution.

Too many models for one platform creates a bigger headache for developers because they have to test all of the known models on the market, otherwise they will just write and test for the most popular and then you may end up with a model where the software doesn't run properly or take advantage of the screen size, resolution or the processor might not be fast enough or the version OS might not be supported. That's the problem the Android platform has that most don't talk about.

Bob Smogango
31st January, 2013 @ 11:20 am PST

I'm rather new to Android, and I really have a lot of fun with it as well as get a lot of use out of it. Prior to coming over to Android I was a Windows Mobile user. That was before 7.0. I really liked WM, mainly because it integrated with my desktop a bit. But it had a lot of buggy issues. What I liked about Android was that it was app based. In other words each of app ran alone rather than being part of the over-all system (needing to be installed more or less). And it compared to Apple- Which was somewhat of a rip-off if you asked me. But because Google operates the way it does, I could see a lot more apps coming down the road, and for a lot less money.

At the time I switched over to Android, I had seriously consider RIM. And after playing around with a few of them I decided against it. They gave me the impression of being boring, and limited. But the few points that had me considering it was security and stability. It kind of came down to this between the two- Are you in this for fun and games, or for serious business. So needless to say, I have a lot of fun with my phone. But if I were really into business, and especially if I was concerned with the security of my info, I would be at least running Windows. And for a serious business phone, I'd be running a BlackBerry.

Snatr
31st January, 2013 @ 11:27 am PST

I think cell phone text will go the way of CB radio.

Ernest Garee
31st January, 2013 @ 12:12 pm PST

The security of the Blackberry has made it the choice of government for a long time, keeping them financially in the black. I suspect the fact that gov employees were complaining about the lack of up to date features was a motivating factor in changing the format. It will be interesting to see if they manage to keep their govt. contracts.

moberndorf
31st January, 2013 @ 02:13 pm PST

Still amazes me to this day how Apple was able to knock down Blackberry so fast. When I was in college 5 years ago, everyone had a Blackberry - literally everyone. Now, I can't remember the last time I've seen anyone pull out a Blackberry from their pocket. Not even at the office. Everyone uses the iPhone for work and we're not concerned about security because work-related data is running in a secure Microsoft Exchange environment.

Sambath Pech
3rd February, 2013 @ 02:32 pm PST
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