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