BB10 = Impressive

bb10Research in Motion has thousands of employees but, in some respects, it’s a startup whose prospects hinge on the much-anticipated introduction of the BB10 on Jan. 30.

With negative sentiment surrounding Canada’s flagship technology company slowly starting to dissipate as more details about the BB10 are unveiled, I got the opportunity yesterday to get my hands – albeit briefly – on the Dev Alpha unit.

One word: impressive.

In a nutshell, the BB10 is a fresh and innovative smartphone with definite curb appeal that keeps some of the features that BlackBerry users have loved over the years, while adding a bunch of new bells and whistles.

As important, the BB10 is a different creature from the iPhone and Android devices, which gives it a good shot at carving out its own identity without being seen as a me-too smartphone. This is no doubt a difficult feat to pull off but the BB10 seems to do the trick.

As RIM attempts to become a vibrant smartphone player again, it is interesting to hear the company is trying to go back to its startup roots with a more flexible, agile and transparent corporate culture.  This is a crucial issue in a marketplace that shifts quickly as new devices and players enter the market.

So, what’s cool about the BB10?

While it may take existing BlackBerry users to get up to speed, BB10 is a device without a home button. Instead, it uses a “Hub” that makes it easy to navigate from app to app using swipes on the screen. If the BB10 has a killer app, “Hub” may be it because it enhances usability while separating BB10 from the pack.

From a features perspective, the touchscreen keyboard stands out. With strong industrial design, it feels like a regular keyboard while featuring predictive technology in which letters and words appear on the keyboard rather than the screen.

As the smartphone becomes a constant part of our lives, BlackBerry Flow is a way to separate your easily work and personal lives by changing how BB10 looks, feels and operates based on whether you’re in work or personal mode.

The camera is also impressive, particularly the ability to rewind or go forward (aka Time Shift) to capture just the right photo.

RIM has done an impressive job in developing BB10, which seems to be almost fully baked. As more analysts and reporters get their hands on the BB10, it is easy to understand why more of them are starting to change their minds about RIM’s prospects, which is a major accomplishment.

With the launch of BB10 in just over two months, it will be interesting from a corporate and PR perspective to see how RIM continues to get people excited the BB10. This is a story that has been unfolding since July when RIM decided to go on the PR offensive in an effort to control the story.

One of the keys will be keeping the story front and centre during the holiday season, which is the biggest time of the year for smartphone purchases. If RIM can convince people to wait until the end of January, there could be some strong pent-up demand.

For existing BlackBerry users, the BB10 offers plenty of reasons to be openly proud again. For consumers looking to get a smartphone, the BB10 will give them another viable smartphone option. And for iPhone and Android users, BB10 could give them a reason to reconsider their device of choice.

This entry was posted in Wireless and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Oliver Dueck

    I have a feeling that BB10 is too little, too late. I can’t see iOS or Android users who are invested in those ecosystems switching to BB. At best, BB10 is going to convince current users not to jump ship to a different platform. However, as a Canadian, I would love to be proved wrong and see RIM prosper again.

    • Dino

      Your 2 little 2 late makes no sense. There’s nothing too little about BB10 and the smartphone market is only 60% penetrated in North America in other parts of the world it’s less than 50% so there is lot of opportunity for BB10.

    • Mark Evans

      Oliver: I agree that if BB10 can keep BlackBerry users in the fold, that will be a key victory. The second “bucket” is people who are going to get a smartphone. Right now, BB isn’t option but BB10 could change that.

    • Tim

      People switch from iOS to Android all of the time. Why not to BB10 if they think it is cool. These people spend thousands of dollars on phones and carrier plans, what is another hundred or two to replace your apps?

  • Jevon

    I keep hearing similar “pretty cool” comments. The launch is going to be neat to watch.

    • Mark Evans

      Let’s see if the buzz turns into sales or, at least, smartphone buyers starting to bring BB10 into the mix.

  • Mike Ottenbrite

    If BB10 catches on, RIM will be #3 for mobile OS’s and Windows Phone is dead. No way RIM catches iOS and Android in the near future, but who knows what things will look like 5 years down the road.

    • Mark Evans

      A solid #3 would be a good starting point. From there, anything is possible.

    • Tim

      Apple isn’t that much ahead in market share. Android it.

  • Lin

    Nice review – current Android user looking to switch back. Excited and look forward to seeing the final hardware!

  • Peter

    Long on RIMM.

    When they tanked last year it felt like US investors just discarded this early mover now dead Canadian brand. No one could catch Apple. Well Amazon did and then some. RIM was in a death spiral, the market watchers announced and to sub $7 it went but I didn’t agree. That’s irrational. 80 million subs, a clear path to the enterprise with a secure the mobile platform, a strong world wide distribution channel, well know brand where sentiment can shift with one hit, owning their own network providing opportunity to deliver more than just BBM(enter free wifi calls), $2 billion in cash, strong patent portfolio and a new CEO who gets it done. Yet – they have to deliver and death spirals are tough to get out of. When their last quarter was announced with cash generation amid plummeting revenues. That’s not an easy. I was impressed. I was buying understanding that this could all be done if their next device flops but I gained great respect for Heins’s position to hold BB10 until they get it right – miss the xmas season or not. That is disciplined – smart stuff. This past week bodes well. BB10 looks good. Telcos giving it two thumbs up. Get the cool back and RIM will be the new ‘it’ phone for their target segments. Now they just need valuable apps to come. Enter HTML5 and developers can keep the 30% Apple now demands. They are by no means free and clear. YE 2012 March will be telling and quarter ending June 2013 will be the decider. Execution makes businesses succeed. Heins is proving he has the game.