RIM's BlackBerry 10: Why I still believe

RIM's BlackBerry 10: Why I still believe

Summary: BlackBerry 10 looks like the offspring of an Android and Microsoft Windows Phone one-night stand gone awry. But that's ok because RIM still has assets worth pondering.

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Research in Motion's BlackBerry Jam in San Jose could either be considered the rebirth of a company or a last gasp attempt to keep developers interested in the platform. There's not much in between.

Given that binary reality---BlackBerry 10 either does well or RIM dies---it's worth checking in on both sides of the equation. Watching RIM CEO Thorsten Heins talk all things BlackBerry 10, which will be tested by carriers in October, I couldn't help but root for RIM. Yes, I realize  RIM faces long odds, but we all love a comeback story and frankly I'm tired of the Apple iOS and Google Android race. I'm obviously a sucker for a comeback---I'm even rooting for MySpace's redesign.

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RIM also won me with another key message: I'm tired of that damn app screen too. Heins talked about BlackBerry Peek, which allows you to check in on apps such as Facebook without actually launching the app. Rachel King noted that BlackBerry 10 looks like the offspring of an Android and Microsoft Windows Phone one-night stand gone awry. Quip aside, that hybrid bastard child of a mobile OS could actually work because it's different yet not jarring. Technically, King wrote that BlackBerry 10 looks "a bit like Windows Phone 7 and Android had a kid of their own." I injected a little poetic pub license.

More: RIM banking on BlackBerry Balance, HTML5, BYOD trend | CNET: BlackBerry 10 OS: A closer look at messenger, navigation | Techmeme | RIM's BlackBerry 10 master plan: Bridge personal, work personas

Heins and his merry band of developer liaisons asked developers to believe. RIM even backed up that message with a horrible REO Speedwagon spoof. That REO Speedwagon number should have been the first reason to just shut RIM down.

 

But even with those jump the shark moments I still believe a bit. Here's why:

RIM has a subscriber base of 80 million. It's hard to believe given RIM's horrible quarters of late, but the company has a global installed base of enterprises and consumers. We can debate whether RIM can hold onto that user base, but an upsell is easier than trying to win back customers that already fled.

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Credit: CNET

Developers are being paid better (assuming RIM does well). RIM executives noted that developers will have a better revenue split and spend less upfront to build apps. The pitch: Bring any code you want and it'll port to BlackBerry 10. Sure, BlackBerry 10 could resemble a Frankenphone, but RIM has lowered the barrier to entry for developers.

You won't be embarrassed by BlackBerry 10. On the train into New York City, RIM's standing is so low that people with BlackBerry devices get dirty looks. These people are relics. Let's assume these BlackBerry users upgrade to BlackBerry 10. They'll have an OS that continues to integrate messaging well, toggles apps seamlessly and enables people to do a lot of tasks with one hand in an airport. Double bonus is that you can message in English, French and Spanish in the same conversation. RIM's global user base will appreciate such perks. The ability to make every notification meaningful and avoid the dreaded app icon layout means "there's no more application grid and no in and out," said Heins. RIM also noted that the popular social apps will be native on BlackBerry 10.

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RIM still gets the enterprise. RIM is losing its enterprise installed base, but CIOs don't like the trend all that much. As our recent CIO Jury highlighted, tech leaders want a platform that isn't iOS or Android. The enterprise play is open for Windows Phone or RIM, but probably not both. Heins has positioned RIM software and BlackBerry 10's ability to keep work and personal profiles separate as a handy way to manage bring your own device efforts. RIM's ability to woo CIOs with multiple device management software also isn't a stretch.

Carriers want a No. 3 platform and smartphone diversity. Heins said that carriers have committed to pushing BlackBerry 10 and have noted that the platform is "beyond their expectations." Of course, Heins' assertion may only mean that carriers weren't expecting much. Nevertheless, carriers are rooting for RIM as well as Microsoft. Telecoms don't want an Apple-Android duopoly.

Add it up and RIM has a puncher's chance as long as it can effectively launch in the first quarter of 2013. Next up, RIM has to show that its financial health has stabilized in what's expected to be a horrid quarterly report Thursday.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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70 comments
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  • RIM too buggy

    I had a Bold once and the bugs drove me round the bend. Will BB10 be any different ? Even if it is bug free I think they too late here and their fate is sealed.
    Alan Smithie
    • RIM too buggy

      My wife had the Bold. It was crappy - always locked up, needed restarts and the likes. I have upgraded to the new Bold 9900 (AT&T). I love this phone. It does everything the iphone can do + flash + keybord +.... Camera is a thousand times better the the old bold or the iphone. The OS is real fast and I did not have to reboot for a long time. Also the battery lasts in average almost two days, much better then the competitors. Its also a little smaller ajnd its very pretty - professional looking. Its too bad, the company waited so long to provide this phone to the public. If they would have done this earlier RIM would be in good standing now.
      nilslam
    • The point is.....

      We need a strong 3rd option opposed to iOS and Android for businesses. Microsoft already has the workstation monopoly, but having an option outside of the options would be nice for everyone. As competition drives innovation.

      But at the same time, HOPEFULLY BBS10 will be far more stable than the previous versions....
      NHowell14
      • Blackberry 7.1

        I've been running Blackberry 7.1 and based on my experience I would say that the stability problem is already gone....I've never had to reboot it....and I've been running my Blackberry Playbook since last December....I've never rebooted that either....

        When I used Blackberry 4, 5 and 6 I had to reboot or do a battery pull at least once a week....but I've had zero stablility problems with 7.1 or the Playbook...
        Doctor Demento
        • the point is moot

          since BB10 is a totally different OS than past BB versions. they share no code at all. so we'll just have to wait & see how buggy or not it is when it gets released.
          theoilman
          • Not true

            It shares a lot of code with the Playbook, which was mentioned.
            Susan Antony
          • Check again Susan...

            and susan, PB OS isn't the same os as the legacy OS's of the current BB's. So you're pretty much incorrect.
            ycuyugan
          • Check again ycuyugan

            Susan meant the Playbook is pretty much the same OS as BB10. QNX. But yes, BB10 has nothing to do with any current BB OS other then the Playbook.
            pefdude
    • I never had the Bold

      I had 2 different Curves and the last one I had was a bit buggy although I liked the trackpad. While I feel that RIM is too late I would love to be proven wrong and have RIM become a vaible competitor to iOS and Android.
      athynz
    • Agreed the ship has sailed.

      RIM could be the best in mobile and still struggle to survive.
      Goldengirl Layla
    • I agree

      close them and forget them... They are, they were and they will be relics... only under developed countries like latin america is using those relics...

      Long live to Apple - Android... long live innovation... long live to keep innovation a priority and in a total rush...
      dkaparunakis
      • I agree

        Idiot, long live map arr that does not work and voice app that does not work and no NFC and no open system FOOL
        jimread1949
      • What!

        "under developed countries like latin america" (sic)... Really? Thanks for the insult!
        Eleutherios
  • I've loved my blackberries but they are dated.

    The good: solid construction withstands drops, good battery life, great reception, messaging is awesome, some of the BlackBerry that come with it like maps, traffic are really pretty good. I personally like having all the buttons. Integrates calendar with work Lotus Notes.

    The bad: a bit slow, particularly browsing. Isn't supported by app makers as much anymore. Camera is ok but 5 MP. Could use a bigger screen. Apps could be integrated better.

    So blackberry 10 looks promising. Is it dual-core? How is the on-screen keypad.
    DevGuy_z
  • The Ghosts of webOS

    RIM is beginning to feel like Palm AFTER HP bought them and AFTER Apotheker failed to deliver products shortly after their announcements. That means they've skipped the whole reboot that Microsoft is did with Windows Phone 7 and again with Windows Phone 8 and went straight to "who?" My organization has not supported BlackBerry for the last two years
    theNewDanger
  • Down But Not Out

    Despite all the nay and doom sayers, copycat journalists and bloggers, RIM will rise again in N. America. Their PlayBook Tablet received short shrift in reviews by and large, but the occasional plain fact brave soul blogger gave it the high marks it deserves. A fair objective assessment allows it to be technologically superior to most of the Tablet offerings out there, running quite easily with the best of the lot. And because it's been largely, tho' unfairly panned, reduced prices make it a sweeter deal yet.
    The fatal flaw in most analysis is that RIM held an international subscriber base that was substantial, thro' it all. They weren't actually as broken as a whole as seas of ink would propound. They still had lots of cash and assets, not at all teetering on an abyss rim. It's just that there exists a world and a market outside of the USA. That salient fact needs airing.
    Most bloggers/journalist are Ameri-Centric. They cannot see beyond the USA borders, not even into Canada, Rim's Home And Native Land. Google Voice doesn't even want to know we exist, when City's like my Calgary are per capita more highly wired, bar any other Cities.
    If Rim has a crying lack, it is certainly not in technological prowess, but truly inadequate marketing skills honed specifically for the cutthroat N. American Commerce. Babes in the woods?
    As I opined in posts already years ago. Don't write RIM off just quite yet. There's reason for me to hope that I was right and ahead of the game with the release of BB10 and its new QNX based OS.
    PreachJohn
    • No, RIM's problems are real

      Oh Boo Hoo, the US bloggers are beating on us...

      True the bloggers are a bit harsh, but the reality is that RIM was poorly managed and their products havent kept up.

      I dont wish their demise, but blaming bloggers is really weak.
      otaddy
      • Read Before You Knock

        @otaddy---
        "If Rim has a crying lack, it is certainly not in technological prowess, but truly inadequate marketing skills honed specifically for the cutthroat N. American Commerce. Babes in the woods?"
        PreachJohn
        • I did read

          Their technological prowess is lacking too. So many failed product launches.
          otaddy
      • The bloggers are all consumer grade techs

        I don't need angry birds to do my job (although a better GPS would help).
        happyharry_z