February 13, 2013
Along with the launch of a new mobile operating system and two new consumer handsets – the touchscreen Z10 and the more traditional keyboard-equipped Q10 – came the announcement that Research in Motion is no more and the company will now be known as just BlackBerry. The move, designed to unite company and product under one brand instantly recognizable to consumers, makes sense given their struggle to regain ground lost to Apple and Google in the smartphone market.
But the name change isn’t the big story here–the launch of the brand new BlackBerry 10 operating system (OS) is. Designed to take on the likes of iOS and Android, and built from the ground up, this represents a clean break from what we all have experienced previously with BlackBerry devices. As you would expect from a modern OS, gesture is at the heart of BlackBerry 10 with a series of swipes and gestures allowing users to access apps, notifications (which BlackBerry calls “Peek”) and the BlackBerry Hub, which is arguably one of BlackBerry 10′s key features. Here is where you’ll find an aggregated list of all your emails, Twitter replies and messages, as well as texts, BBMs, Facebook messages, voicemails and missed calls.
The other noteworthy feature is BlackBerry Balance, designed to appeal to corporate customers. This effectively allows a user to securely divide the phone between business and personal use, without allowing copying of data between the two—keeping CTO’s and CIO’s happy!
But enough of the BlackBerry 10 rundown—the bigger question is: so what? Does this mean we convert to using or developing for good ol’ BB, leaving our luxurious iOS and Android devices behind? Not just yet. I’ve rounded up some pros and cons to help you figure out whether or not to give BlackBerry one final shot—as a mobile developer, mobile marketer, and/or mobile consumer.
Should I ditch my iPhone 5?
- PRO: BlackBerry is definitely taking strides in the right direction with this release – their legacy OS was simply outdated compared to modern smartphone platforms and fell well short in the face of ever-rising consumer expectations.
- CON: That said, even a well-designed, intuitive mobile OS is no guarantee of commercial success. Just look at how the generally well-received Windows Phone has fared–it still has less than 3% of smartphone market share in the US based on the latest figures.
- PRO: BlackBerry 10’s saving grace may be the corporate market; BlackBerry is still ingrained at an enterprise level, which will ensure these devices will get in to business people’s hands, which in turn could fuel consumer demand.
Should I be building a BlackBerry 10 app?
- Relatively easy and cost-effective to repackage your existing Android APK for BlackBerry 10
- As a new OS, there are shortage of apps overall, meaning brands can gain an early-mover advantage
- A natural home for apps targeting corporate users
- As there is no backward compatibility with BB OS7, your app will only be available to a small audience initially
- If developing from scratch, the platform may not have critical mass of users to provide a return on your investment
Overall, BlackBerry 10 looks more promising than past launches. But the answer to all your questions on whether or not you should test the product line out is, of course, dependent on your budget and business KPI’s. Feel free to share you thoughts below!