I’ll preface this post as I seem to do with most BlackBerry-related ones with the statement that I have used BlackBerry devices for quite a few years and I actually would really like to see them succeed. I want BlackBerry to be successful, and I’d love to see BlackBerry 10 making waves in the mobile market that is almost entirely dominated by iOS and Android. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that BlackBerry 10 devices are going to get the job done.
Last week the company formerly known as Research In Motion made some big announcements, including officially changing their name (finally) from Research In Motion to BlackBerry. Of much bigger interest to fans, though, was the official announcement of two new BlackBerry 10 devices. These are devices which faithful fans have been waiting over a year for and which BlackBerry is now staking the company upon. After the announcements last Wednesday I feel pretty confident that while existing BlackBerry users, clinging to their 9900′s with everything they have, will absolutely love these devices they won’t do anything to persuade Android and iOS users to come back to the platform.
Lack Of Hands-On
The event on Wednesday was designed to create the maximum amount of interest in BlackBerry 10 as possible. Prior to the launch it seemed to be working; I saw people on Twitter tweeting excitedly about BlackBerry devices who hadn’t typed the word in years. It was a situation that BlackBerry desperately needed to capitalize upon, but I don’t think they did. A big part of this is that after announcing the devices members of the press weren’t actually allowed to do anything with the devices. They were stuck recording BlackBerry employees holding them. The press could simply touch the physical keyboard of the Q10, for example. What type of way to generate interest and excitement is that? All it tells me is that BlackBerry is scrambling to finish these devices on time and that even at their announcement the company isn’t confident in them. Whether or not that’s true I have no way of knowing, but that’s the signal it sends.
My last idea segues into the next issue I saw with this launch announcement event; the devices themselves are not going to be readily available until far too long after the event. My statements here are in regard to the U.S. market since that’s where I live and the one that actually concerns me. I understand that BlackBerry 10 devices will be available at earlier times in other parts of the world. Likewise, I also understand that the U.S. market isn’t the sole determining factor in whether or not a device or platform is successful; that’s actually far from the case. However, it’s naive to think that the U.S. market isn’t important. BlackBerry has previously been successful in emerging markets where cheap devices and low data usage is the most important aspect to a phone; how long can they expect that to last?
Regardless, major carriers in the U.S. have announced that they’ll carry BlackBerry 10 devices. However, they haven’t been able to even give dates for them yet. Most of the dubious information I’ve seen thus far indicates late March. If that’s the case, then users in the States will be waiting 2 months for BlackBerry 10 devices from the time they were announced. Interest in these devices peaked during the announcement. During the 2 month hiatus from then until the actual release of the devices that interest will only continue to wane; no one is going to become more interested the longer they wait.
I almost hate to say it considering how much I dislike the company but what BlackBerry needed in this case was to follow the system used by Apple; after announcing the devices they needed to be available for immediate purchase. Following this setup will only hurt their chances in the U.S. market and any others which are forced to wait.
This one almost bothers me the most because it shows that BlackBerry didn’t learn their lesson from the BlackBerry 7 devices. When BlackBerry 7 devices like the Bold 9900 released, the company’s devices had been historically under-spec compared to the competition. The company which was then RIM promised to release devices with improved hardware that would be the same as the competition. Given the company’s horrendously long development cycle, though, by the time BlackBerry 7 devices released with 1.2 GHz single-core processors, competing devices were already releasing with dual-core chips that were capable of vastly more processing. BlackBerry 7 devices would have had decent specs if they had been released about a year earlier. As it was, they were already behind the curve at launch.
I see the exact same thing happening all over again with BlackBerry 10 devices. According to CrackBerry, the Q10 has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. I’m not saying that’s terrible by any stretch. In fact, that actually matches what is currently in my Motorola Photon Q. That itself is quite indicative of the problem, though. My Photon Q released in August of 2012. If the Q10 actually releases in the U.S. in late March that means it will have a processor on par with a device that released 8 months earlier.
For the sake of comparison, look at the Samsung Galaxy S3, which sports a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. Likewise, the Google Nexus 4 is packing a 1.5 GHz quad-core chip. These are devices which were released in 2012. The next wave of devices will continue this trend, meaning that by the time BlackBerry 10 devices are actually available in the U.S. any comparison in specifications with other devices will be a losing battle.
Again, I really still hope that BlackBerry is able to succeed. I would love for a candy bar device with a full QWERTY keyboard to make a return to popularity. I want there to be more competition in the mobile space, and I’d love to see BlackBerry as the company causing havoc for the iOS and Android duopoly. After the event last week, though, and seeing the way that the release of BlackBerry 10 devices is being handled I don’t have much faith in the possibility of that. I think these devices will be purchased by the existing BlackBerry faithful, and everyone else will largely ignore them. Only time will tell, however. Here’s to hoping that my predictions are wrong.