BlackBerry 10 launches: Will you bet on the platform for three years?

BlackBerry 10 launches: Will you bet on the platform for three years?

Summary: BlackBerry has to prove its platform is viable over time to entice consumers to enter a three year contract for a $149 device.


Research in Motion rebranded itself as BlackBerry and finally launched its BlackBerry 10 platform, which will make or break the company. How BlackBerry fares going forward will ultimately boil down to one question: Do you believe?


The question became front and center when BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins talked briefly about pricing for the new devices. Pricing will be controlled by carriers, but Heins mentioned $149 with a three-year contract.

My reaction: There's no way I'd bet on BlackBerry for three years in a contract. And that's the big hurdle for BlackBerry as a company. I'm happy to take BlackBerry 10 devices for a short-term relationship/contract, say a year. 

More: BlackBerry 10 launches; RIM unifies brand with name change | Hands on with the first BlackBerry 10 handset: The Z10 in photos | BlackBerry Z10: 48 hours with BB10's touchscreen handset | BlackBerry 10: The developer takeBlackBerry Z10 on sale in the UK: Where can you buy it? |  BlackBerry 10 launch: By the numbers | Forrester: BlackBerry 10: Beautiful phone, playing serious catchup | CNET: BlackBerry Z10 smartphone spec battle

BlackBerry has to prove its platform is viable. The details from BlackBerry executives were decent:

  • BlackBerry has key apps in the fold, but still needs to beef up.
  • The company has its music and video bases covered.
  • Heins and the gang had enough enterprise goodies even though BlackBerry Enterprise Server's monetization model may change depending on adoption.
  • There are enough new features in BlackBerry 10 to keep the base and perhaps attract new users.

In other words, the setup for BlackBerry is the best it could expect. There's some Apple iPhone fatigue, Samsung hasn't launched the its latest Galaxy phone and CES was quiet on the device front. There will be a new HTC device in February, but RIM has some room to get a head start.

Evercore analyst Mark McKechnie said:

We expect a generally positive reception to the product as a clear improvement over RIMM’s stale product line (the last major platform upgrade was BB7 in August of 2011), but do not expect to gauge consumer demand until the product has been in the channel for 1-2 months.

That consumer demand---not to mention the corporate reception---comes down to faith in the platform. Here's what we know:

  • Apple's iOS has a strong ecosystem and viability three years from now isn't a question.
  • Android has a strong ecosystem, dominant market share and frequent updates. It'll be here in three years due to Google.
  • Windows Phone is a lock in the long run just because Microsoft will spend billions of dollars on the platform to make it work.

BlackBerry could make its platform sing or it could be a division of another company in the future. The average bear may not know the company's balance sheet, but there are some mental gymnastics required to make a big bet.

Topics: Mobility, Enterprise Software, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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
  • I'm all in

    I'm all in as soon as it launches, my wifes all in to trade in her Note 2 when it launches, 1 friend can't wait until his contract is up on his S3 to get one, another friend & my cousin are sick of they're I-Phones & will get one at launch. I'm going old school though & getting the Q10, love my physical keyboards
    • LOVE these made up stories...

      I know an assortment of people's using different phones and OS's who are all in for BB an as soon as they are able will be purchasing said BB even though they still have contracts with their existing carriers, Yeah OK.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Don't worry James. Apple will be OK.

        Don't feel threatened.
        • Hradly worried it's all fake. Tell me different.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
    • Use voice recognition

      The Andriod/Samsung phones have great voice recognition. I rarely have to type. Welcome to 1999 on your "old school" BB.
    • Nice try...

      No way anyone is trading in an S3 and a Note 2 for the bb phones. Maybe in 2 years, but not now. Although in 2 years BB won't be making phones either...
  • BlackBerry 10 launches: Will you bet on the platform for three years?

    No. Blackberry's days are gone. They missed the boat and offered nothing new for years. With mobile technology changing fairly quickly they may miss the boat again. Can't lock myself into that.
    • Same goes for Windows Phone

      Microsoft's 1/3 hearted attempt at a mobile OS. After the previous 2 failures.
      • Yawn. Speaking of 1/3 hearted attempts

        you described your "posts" perfectly.

        You're on autopilot anymore as you seem to lack any conviction.
        William Farrel
    • mistake

      I am sure you will find this cannot be for three years. As Blackberry is Canadian based I would have to assume he misspoke and referred to the 3 year contracts Canadians suffer through to get a decent deal on a phone. I cannot see a three year contract in the US where two years is the norm.
  • What is the selling price of these devices?

    Other phones are $150 - $200 with a two year commitment. How expensive of these things in order to warrant the same price for a three your commitment?
  • Small minded article

    I've read this article as well as other articles on this site about phones and I can see why America is so behind in the tech world, be that as it may they may not be behind on other technology platforms as the rest of the world but hello outside of the U.S. other countries are building at an alarming rate and open to a phone like a BB10 or a Windows.
    It just doesnt make sense why Tech sites dont push for a third mobile platform yet they push for a monopoly on the same two, Apple and Google. Of which one creates hugh line just to deliver a unimpressive product but the tech savy's like this site jump on board like its the next best mobile device, the innovation isnt there with Apple phones and hasnt been in a few years.
    Google OS is lic. all over the place so currently at the moment their only hardware phones are the droids and the nexus yet they have numbers because they lic. out their product to everyone outside of a Apple or Blackberry. But the only company whom is making money off google is Samsung at the moment and like Apple google's mobile innovation has slowed.
    Why wouldnt someone commit to a three year contract? I've been with sprint for 10years people dont jump carries and there is always a resell or early exit from a contract if you reup to a new phone and contract. So reading this article is like drinking prune juice it runs straight through you leaving no substance...
    • What are you trying to say?

      Forget iOS and Android...what does a three year commitment to a BlackBerry get you? Three years is a long time. To illustrate three years ago the iPhone 3GS was the current phone? Do you really want to be using a BB10 for three years?

      This industry changes fast...improvements come fast. Anyone entering into a three year commitment needs to get something in return. It's certainly not a price break as I can get a very nice phone for $150 with a two year commitment. So what is the incentive to buy a BB10 under a three year contract?
      • Good Question

        That's a question that should be getting answered within the next few days.. My assumption is the ability to upgrade to the lastest BB that would come out at the time. Remember QNX is design to run on 64+ core processors. So my guess would be the reward of brand loyality with the newest and greatest the only thing RIM would have to do is push the envelop..After all if Apple locked people into a 3yr deal what would the consumer get after all Apple suppose to have a "great" mobile OS?
        • It's not about Apple. It's not about Android. It's about...

          ...being locked into the same hardware for three years. What does signing up for a three year contract get me? A customer, faced with a choice of BB or an alternative phone will look at it like this:

          BB: 3 year contract, $150 cost, fledgling application offerings.
          Everyone else: 2 year contract, $200 cost, thriving applications offerings.

          What is the must have thing to steer a prospective customer to BB for three years?
          • misspoke

            Canadian contracts are 3 years (normal). I am sure he referred to that. If the majority offers contracts for 2 years blackberry will as well.
          • 3 years contract... but...

            In Canadian contracts, after two years, you are eligible for a hardware upgrade. You just have to stay with the carrier. So it's not like you're stuck with the same hardware for three years.

            Also, there is a "tab" pricing so if you want to get out earlier, you just have to pay the tab balance.
    • USofA slow?

      We might adapt slowly on other technologies but 3years with a smartphone these days will be 3 generations behind by the time the contract is over. Apple has felt the pressure from Android and is releasing hardware on shorter cycles thanks to Google/Samsung.

      BlackBerry to offer such a contract it only says that they have not changed. Their smartphone might be up to date but their way of thinking is still in old school days. You cannot offer a smartphone or oversize smartphone (A.K.A. Android/iOS tablets) and expect it to have more than a 2 year life cycle.
  • A mistep

    Larry...I am sure the three year contract was a reference to the extremely long contract length which is the norm in Canada. We don't like it and are fighting to change it but that is what we deal with here. If most contracts are two years or less then that is what you find it competing with on the same basis.
  • really awesome to have competitors.

    Not too late what are some people saying.
    I have used a droidx for over two years and a samsung s3 on release day. Both are ok for quality of video , available apps and games . My toddler loves to play angry birds but not much else good on the market we have a wii u vf or real gaming. I think android is basic and has been hijacked a few times already we had unauthorized charged on credit cards bank cards and unable to get yahhoo and gmail after. Windows8 welcomed functionality with gaming integration with xbox and windows. Blackberry looks like high end features slick design i would trade to a blackberry on face value lets hope they can stand out.