BlackBerry Z10: Beautiful phone playing serious catch-up

BlackBerry Z10: Beautiful phone playing serious catch-up

Summary: The new BlackBerry devices are beautiful, but it has a long way to go before it regains significance in the enterprise; in the US, it owns only 6 percent of the information worker install base.


The Z10 is a beautiful device. Designer Todd Wood, Don Lindsay, and their teams have done a great job with the industrial design, the swipe-rich interaction gestures, and a whole lot more. The BlackBerry 10 is a pleasure to hold, to swipe, and to carry around in a suit pants pocket.

Here are my favorite bits:

  • Thin, light, elegant, executive, with a holdable form factor and case

  • The keyboard, with its predictive word look up and "flip into place" word completion is a pleasure for this thick-thumbed, fumble-finger typist

  • Swipe gestures, including peeking into the inbox, the slow swipe to home position, and the pull-down configuration are a pleasure to use one handed.

The device does have many apps, Twitter and Facebook among them. Alas, some of the apps I rely on are missing. No TripIt app. No Evernote app. No Flipboard app. No Expensify app. No Words With Friends app. And more troubling, I found one app that appeared to be a Chinese counterfeit, and seems now to have been so. Maybe BlackBerry's "portathon" strategy to help Android developers port their apps to BlackBerry's QNX operating system is working. But there may be a few approval and copyright holes to plug in their process. I know this company, and I know they'll figure that part out.

But the real challenge for CIOs is that employees have moved on to Apple and Android (particularly Samsung's stellar lineup). Forrester surveyed the information workforce globally to find out how they use technology to get work done. It's a goldmine of insight and reality. And the reality for the US market is that for firms of all sizes and industries, BlackBerry has only 6 percent of the information workforce installed base. So BlackBerry is playing some serious catch-up.

There's still many employees to go win, but BlackBerry is a distant third in the installed base of US employees. (Credit: Forrester/Forrsights)

Here's what CIOs should do:

  • Upgrade your BES so you're ready to support the new BlackBerry devices. You'll be able to manage iOS and Android devices as well. BlackBerry is making this relatively painless to do

  • Add Z10 and its cousin Q10 with a keyboard to your approved list. It will pass muster with your security team

  • Experiment with the dual-mode--personal and work--features to see if it works for your workforce and if it solves your device-wipe/content-control problem (I'm still skeptical on this one, but hey, I've been wrong before)

  • Wait for the demand. That's BlackBerry's job: to convince your employees that this is the device for them.

Then, and only then, should you target Z10 or Q10 for your business apps. In other words, take a "get ready, then wait" approach. I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for this operating system and platform, if only to have more choice in the market.

Topics: BlackBerry, Android, Apple, Google, iOS, Mobile OS, Samsung

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Who will be stealing the android/apple market share

    Will it be in the win devices or the BB's? The BB sounds like a viable contender and has the advantage of the legacy that was BB a few years back. If they can harness some of the loyalty from previous/existing users, it could make a decent attempt to claw back the enterprise market.
    Little Old Man
    • How about stealing market from WP

      Given that Blackberry is being aggressive about branding, aggressive with carriers, aggressive with developers, and aggressive with their current customer base the early low-hanging fruit for stealing market share might just be Windows Phone.
      • Blackberry surely can steal marketshare

        -- and no wonder, why: "BlackBerry Z10: Beautiful phone" has John Ive/Steven Jobs design concepts in it, with just little decoration details different.
        • I'm not sure where you are seeing that

          It does seem to have certain elements in common with a device that could be a mix of an iPhone 4/4S, 3G/3GS, BB Storm, and BB Bold but nowhere near enough to claim it as an Ive/Jobs design.
          • Funny he said that because I read a little while ago that Steve Wozniak

            said he could see Windows Phone 7 as something Steve Jobs could have designed himself, it is that nice.
    • It'll be interesting to see

      I have to admit I do like the looks of the BBZ10 and the BB10 OS - I hope that BB's betting the farm on BB10/BBZ10 will work out and make them a viable and relevant competitor. My prediction - solely based on personal enterprise experience with Android and iOS - is that they are successful they will take more enterprise share from Android and some from iOS. Somehow I do not see WP making a decent enough dent in the enterprise market - then again I'm no analyst just an armchair quarterback.

  • So what's the killer app or feature

    that would make me switch? I'm sure it's a fine piece of hardware that runs on a fine operating system, but in this market that is simply not enough.

    The killer features on the competition's products are integration with other products. iPhone integrates with other Apple products, Windows with other Windows products, Samsung with other Samsung products. What will Blackberry integrate with? And if the answer is nothing, then it needs SOME other killer feature.
    Michael Kelly
    • I agree with the consumer market

      but I guess it depends on how much progress the enterprise has truly made in integrating beyond the email server. I know there are companies out there making strong progress down a path of idevices and androids but is that universal or is there a bigger market for which a communication tool will be sufficient. A lot of people I know are still happy using an BB and an ipad. For the business user, how much integration will be needed beyond basic comm's and the odd useful app?
      Little Old Man
  • Evernote is baked in! Did you miss the keynote?!

    Holy freaking cow! Go watch the video.
    • Good natured jab there :-)

      It's part of the native "Remember" app
  • Deja vu?

    My thing is, what's new? It's a niche product the way Apple was in the '90s. The difference is I don't think the brand loyalty of Blackberry is anywhere near Apple even at their worst. What might work for Blackberry is to go after the low-end smartphone market with the quality Android can't offer. I wish they would just partner with Apple, but how would that work really? They make the best keyboard phones ever, but a very small group care about that anymore. Oh well, good luck Canada.
  • BlackBerry 10: Beautiful phone, playing serious catchup

    Beauty must be in the eye of the beholder because this phone doesn't look like anything but average.
    • Personally

      I find the UI to be better looking than WP7/8 and the device is pretty sharp looking as well. Granted this is just impressions from pictures and no sort of hands on experience with BB10 - I'm reserving judgement until I can get a BBZ10 in my grubby mitts and give it a whirl.
  • I'm part of the 53%

    of users who don't use smartphones for work. Have yet to see a good reason to switch to one. Maybe BB10 will provide me with a reason.

    There's nothing I can't do with my netbook that a smartphone will improve, except that it accepts phone calls. For that, I can use a regular cellular phone. The small screen is a big minus; the larger smartphones are too hard to hold well, and please let's not talk about tablets. Still, if I weren't going to be using a netbook for computer work but wanted to stay in touch, a smartphone like the BB10 would be the only kind I'd consider, as I must have a keyboard ON the phone. Not, something to attach. Thumbing typing is something I'd have to learn, and that kept me away from Blackberry; but the other smartphones are far more annoying for this user.

    Gotta be many like me 'out there', given the 53% number. Were I Blackberry, I'd target them and leave the existing smartphone base alone. Because, obviously the 53% have already decided AGAINST the other smartphones. :)
  • Nice Smart Phone

    Based on the video review I've seen of this smart phone it looks absolutely gorgeous! It's the kind of OS that would make an Apple engineer proud. The intuitive swiping up is accompanied by the leading edge of the screen becoming slightly opaque which makes a more seamless transition between screens, a very nice touch and attention to detail! I like it!

    It's something Android lacks, partially because they've been working their tails off just to get the laggyness eliminated. Now they can focus on making the other functions more elegant. I'm a Galaxy S2 owner as well as iPod Touch so I am on both sides of the camp.

    Frankly, I would not entertain the idea of this phone, although I wish Apple would encorporate some of their ideas into their own iOS because they should. RIM has a problem with execution. Yea, they are aggressive, but they take forever to push out updates and improvements. This is a death knell in the fast moving smart phone world.

    They might have a chance if they can make a good app store but I don't see it happening. They learned a lot from their app store frustrations with their tablet, but it's still a sticking point. I can see developers getting on board with BB and iOS instead of Android because both operating systems are beautiful, simple, and inspirational and aren't fragmented like Android.
  • Windows Phone Is Dead

    This is so far the best candidate I've seen for the #3 mobile platform.