During the early hours of this morning, the company formerly known as RIM announced they were rebranding to the more familiar Blackberry. Let’s face it, we all thought of them as the makers of Blackberry anyway. The big announcement today was Blackberry 10, an OS we’d seen before, but today was the official launch.
The first all-touch phone from Blackberry will be the Z10. The company also announced the BlackBerry Q10, a Blackberry 10 device with a physical keyboard. I can’t decide if this is a good decision that plays to the strength of their audience or a failure to let go and to two steps into the future.
The interface of Blackberry 10 lands somewhere in the middle of Android and Windows Phone, by combining some some live data, but still relying on a grid of icons. They are hitting many of the must-have features of today’s smart phones.
Blackberry 10 has voice control, NFC, 4G, high-resolution display and camera. There are actually some unique features that Blackberry brings to market. While they have a facetime competitor with an upgraded BBM Video, you can actually screen share from a mobile device for the first time. There’s also a tilt-shift mode built right into the camera and plenty of unique swipe gestures.
Overall the experience and devices look interesting and provide a respectable upgrade path for Blackberry fans. I doubt it’ll draw any substantial market away from the top 3. The best Blackberry can hope for is the long-delayed Blackberry 10 to stop the bleeding of customers to other platforms.
One impressive business strategy is the application ecosystem. Behind the scenes, Blackberry has approached (read paid) developers of some of the top apps, actually 70,000 apps to build apps for the new mobile OS. The net result is that they have a decent offering at launch, but most are ports from other platforms.
There is no doubt, RIM (now Blackberry), were incredibly slow to react to the success and market domination of Apple some 5+ years ago. Blackberry 10 devices will arrive in March, but it probably is too late for them to ever hope for a decent precent of the market. 95% of the mobile phone market is dominated by Android and iOS, with Windows Phone finally gaining some traction with WP8. If there’s any room for a 4th player remains to be seen.
For more information and to see a great run-down of the Z10’s capabilities, check out the demo site from Blackberry.