Can BlackBerry 10 help the brand reclaim its place at the top of the smartphone market?
This week’s Dialaphone article looks at the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and Z10 smartphone, and asks whether or not BlackBerry has what it takes to win over critics and consumers alike…
The new BlackBerry 10 operating system (OS) was unveiled alongside the flagship BlackBerry Z10 last week, but after months of delays and building expectation, did the firm, formerly known as RIM, do enough to win over critics and tempt new users?
Boasting a full touchscreen display with virtual keypad, the Z10 has been built to showcase an abundance of new features to come with BB10 OS, such as BBM video with Screen Share, BlackBerry Hub and Time Shift.
The Z10 is certainly an appealing proposition and marks a clear shift away from BlackBerry’s previous catalogue of devices, many of which are instantly recognisable by the QWERTY keypad and small rectangular display.
But, during the official launch, we were also introduced to the Q10, a QWERTY device running BB10, not so different in looks to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.
Although the Q10’s appearance on stage was brief, the device reminded us what it was that made BlackBerry so popular with users just a few years ago.
Physical keyboards have always been a strong point for BlackBerry and the Q10 carries this forward for BB10.
The keypad on the Q10 looks to be much wider, extending to the edges of the device to make extra room for typing. The optical trackpad has also been removed and in its place sits a larger touchscreen display, which takes up almost as much room as the QWERTY keypad.
Although its specs are yet to be officially announced we expect that the Q10 will feature:
• 1.5GHz dual-core processor
• 16GB internal storage, expandable with microSD
• 2GB RAM
• 3-inch super-AMOLED display
• 8 megapixel camera
• 2 megapixel front-facing camera.
But should BlackBerry have released a device so similar to its previous offerings during its most important unveiling to date?
Despite recording a fall in shares in recent past, and throughout the BB10 launch, BlackBerry still has a firm following of fans, opting for the QWERTY keypad over touchscreen devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC 8X, which currently headline the smartphone market.
It’s these fans that have helped keep BlackBerry afloat while its competitor’s storm ahead with their impressive offerings. As such, the QWERTY keypad seems to have become something of a metaphorical safety blanket for BlackBerry, and perhaps the reason the firm couldn’t resist showcasing it at the launch last week.
The Q10 undoubtedly helps to bridge the gap between users of QWERTY devices running BB6 OS and BB7 OS with the new mobile platform. And, by launching two completely different handsets at the same time, BlackBerry’s focus is now on new and existing users.
However, the Q10 certainly stole some of the Z10’s spotlight, distracting audiences world-wide away from the huge developments that BlackBerry had been working so hard to perfect on the Z10.
BB10 has been described by many as the ’last ditch effort’ to save BlackBerry and despite much criticism, it finally looks to have caught up with the likes of Android and iOS. Early reports are already showing strong demand for the Z10, with the white version of the device even selling out in many countries.
The hype around the BlackBerry Z10 is certainly still rife, it’s just a shame the Canadian manufacturer didn’t have the confidence to rely solely on its new flagship to mark this new chapter during the launch event.
It remains to be seen whether BB10 and the devices that will run it will be enough to turn BlackBerry’s fortunes around. The launch event did some things well and others not so well, but it was just what the company needed to put BlackBerry back on the map.
There’s no doubt the Canadian manufacturer has pulled out all the stops to create two very different launch devices to appeal to a wider user-base, and for now the outlook for BlackBerry is optimistic. The real test however lies with the consumers and how old and new BlackBerry users adapt to BB10 – it is only then that BlackBerry’s future amongst the smartphone elite can be assured.