Would ‘Rebranding’ ripen BlackBerry? Well, not exactly [Review of BB10]

Posted on Feb 1 2013 - 5:12pm by Abhi Bavishi

BlackBerry is now officially BlackBerry. As odd as that may sound, but the truth is that BlackBerry has dropped its pseudonym- RIM; now, it’s just simply BlackBerry.

Chief executive Thorsten Heins announced that they were scrapping the name – Research in Motion, which has been used since 1985, the year when the company was started. According to Heins, the rebranding of the company was merely an indication that the Canadian smartphone maker is now shifting its paradigm in mobile frontier, and is looking for a fresh start.

“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry,” Heins said at the New York launch. “It is one brand; it is one promise.”

The announcement took place on Wednesday, where the company announced its long-awaited new BlackBerry 10 devices. The company was going to launch these devices almost a year ago, but it scrambled to develop an inspirational OS for its new flagship devices.

The BB 10 phones would compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s wide range of smartphones that have literally swept the market. BlackBerry is miles behind in terms of sales figures and technology than Apple and Samsung. BB 10 is a sanguine attempt by the Canadian giant to narrow down the margin, and give a tougher fight.

What makes the new BlackBerry devices ‘sweet’?

 

There are a lot of features that make the new BB10 devices sweet. The devices have fast browsers, smart cameras, and boast a very large app market, when compared to old BlackBerry devices. There are already 70,000 apps on BB10 app store.

Here are some of the highlighted features of BB 10 explored in detail.

Flow Interface

BB10-Notifications

BB10 is a touch-focussed OS, which means that most of the navigation actions are to be given in the form of touch gestures. The navigation in the menu is controlled by taps and swipes that can be run along different directions to access different items. For instance, swiping from right edge to left edge lets you access apps and browse the apps installed, while swiping down from the top opens settings or options in the app. There’s no home-screen in BB10. As everything is going simultaneously, and everything just flows into another, the interface is named as ‘Flow interface’.

New BlackBerry features

BlackBerry has integrated some pretty ‘useful’ features like BlackBerry Peek, BlackBerry Screen Share, and BlackBerry Balance in its new flagship devices.

BlackBerry Peek: BB 10 brings all the notifications on your device into one sliding menu known as BlackBerry Peek. The features allows you to check your notifications without having to navigate away from the app.

blackberry-z10-11

BlackBerry Screen Share: With BlackBerry Screen Share, you can share your phone screen while you’re on a call on BBM. We know we’re yet to get there, but yes, the new BBM now comes with BBM Video. The screen share feature can be handy if you want to share your screen pictures with your loved ones or if you wish to show a presentation to your client.

BlackBerry Balance: All work, and no play makes Jack a dull boy. However, in modern era, not knowing when to work and when to play makes Jack a dull boy. First on BB 7, BlackBerry Balance makes a comeback in BB 10. The new feature, as the name suggests, would help users maintain a balance in their life. It splits the handset into two profiles (work and personal), and allows you to switch between them with just the tap of an icon.BlackBerryBalance

The changed features would not just affect the settings but would also change the emails, social networks, apps, lock passwords and more. To cut it short, you would have a completely new interface that would help you keep the work out of sight (And of course, vice versa!).

The Hubblackberry-10-universal-inbox-300px

This is perhaps one of the main highlights of BB 10. BlackBerry is always known for its simplistic and sophisticated mailboxes. Well, it takes the concept a step ahead by integrating a new feature called The Hub. The Hub pulls everything- be it your text messages, emails, social-network messages or BBM messages. Everything is just bundled up into one convenient and easy to navigate interface.

The new feature allows you to reply to everything from just one spot. Most importantly, it gathers everything important at once place, without making it look complicated or messy.

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger is now updated with latest features, one of which includes its ability to interact with social networks. Yes, you can reply to social network messages directly from your BBM client. Besides, BBM now supports video chat features and comes with BlackBerry Screen Share.

Sweet Multi-taskingblackberry-z10-02

BlackBerry 10 devices would allow nine apps to run concurrently, without freezing or crashing the operating system. Except the one app that is running, other eight apps would be frozen behind the system, waiting to be awaked.

People like to do more than one things at a time, especially people who use BlackBerries. Contemplating over the issues faced by old BlackBerry users, the new BB 10 now offers a quick inbox peek menu. You can view your messages instantly without having to navigate from one app to another.

New On-Screen keyboardblackberry-10-keyboard-300px

If you ask any BlackBerry owner what is the one thing that they love most in their smartphone, they would indifferently say the same thing- Keyboard. Everyone loved BlackBerry keyboard. Typing was easier and fun. However, BB 10 is a touch-screen device with no hard keyboard. Many analysts predicted that the lack of keyboard could sink the BlackBerry ship, but frontally the ship is far from sinking.

BlackBerry has developed a special adaptive on-screen keyboard that learns your typing patterns and get accustomed with your pace and choice of words within a certain span of time. The keyboard offers upfront word predictions, and also includes some swiping features for efficient typing. The BB 10 keyboard can be considered as a hybrid version of SwiftKey and Swype.

Cool Camera FeaturesBB10-Timeshift

The BB10 smartphones come with an amazing 8 MP camera that clicks amazing snaps. However, spotlight is not on the number of megapixels, but on the cool new feature- Time Shift. The feature allows you to shift back in time and change the picture if it was not clicked properly. So often does it happen that our eyes get exasperatedly closed whenever the camera flashes. A perfect moment is so often ruined. However, with Time Shift, you can now rewind the time, and choose a picture before the time of click that looks better. For instance, if your eyes are closed, the app shifts the image a few frames behind until it’s open.

What makes them sour?

Not-so-catchy LooksBB-Z10-Front

The BB 10’s looks are not repugnant, but they’re not distinctive either. The Z10 looks just like another Android smartphone popped out of the bag. There’s nothing distinctive about the design that would really appeal to the customers. That’s very much unlike old BlackBerry smartphones as you can easily spot someone using a BlackBerry phone within a spur of a second. However, that privilege is denied here. Thanks to the boring, mundane and utterly mediocre design of the smartphones.

Learning Curve

Though the BB 10 flow interface might seem catchy and innovative at first, but it’s tough to get acquainted with. There’s no Home Screen, there are no navigation buttons; there’s no BACK key. Everything is controlled through gestures. Though this feature adds novelty to the device, it would be a pain for people who are well versed with using hardware buttons to navigate on their smartphones. Hence, prospective buyers as well as enthusiastic sales persons would have to get familiarized with the OS before, and hence the progress of the BB 10 would be measured by the steepness of the learning curve.

Late launchheins3_2466642b

They say- Better late than never. Well, not always. The launched smartphones (Z10 and Q10) are expected to hit the US markets in March (Z10) and April (Q10). That isn’t a good sign as other phone manufactures would be already offering better and smarter smartphones by that time. There are rumors that Samsung is already planning to unveil the much anticipated Galaxy S4 by the end of February.

Delayed launch in other markets except US would surely haunt the Canadian smartphone manufacturer who is struggling to keep the momentum going in mostly every market worldwide. Its grip is slowly slipping even in its most matured markets like UK.

Server Shifts

The newer BBM version would imply that the company would now have to change its corporate servers to meet the requirement of its new operating system. Hence, it would have to convince its corporate partners to change the servers for security as well as convenience purposes. Another issue that BlackBerry would face is to maintain both the old and new BlackBerry smartphone servers.

No Apps’ Landblackberry-z10-13

BlackBerry has only got 70,000 apps on its app store. That’s nothing when you compare it to App Store (Over 775,000 apps) or Play Store (Over 700,000 apps).

Nevertheless, it’s not the quantity but quality that matters. Though the quality of apps on BlackBerry’s app store is good, despite number of apps already paving its way into the store, some popular names are still missing. Some of the apps that have not yet been ported to BB 10 include Instagram, Google Voice, Temple Run, WhatsApp, and more such apps.

However, experts believe that by the time the device would be launched, the BlackBerry app store would be hosting all the popular apps.

Tough Competition

BlackBerry faces fiery competition from the likes of Apple, and Samsung. With both the giants grabbing more than 90% of the smartphone market, it would be tougher for BlackBerry to hold its ground. BB 10 not only has to outdo its competitors, but it also has to establish itself as a contemporary OS. Citing the competition, it’s tough to be in the spotlight. With the likes of Ubuntu and Firefox OS gaining undue spotlight, things do not look brighter for BlackBerry.

High Price

Z10 and Q10 would hit the US markets at a minimum price-tag of 600$. The price is too high for people who are looking to buy a simple business phone. Also, as BlackBerry has not released any smartphone in the budget category, it is sure to lose boatloads of customers as they would prefer Android over BlackBerry considering the fact that the former is cheaper, smarter and has lots of apps.

Should you pluck the new BlackBerry when it ripens?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

BlackBerry packs lots of features that so less people want. Though many analysts favour BB 10 smartphones, we feel this one is going down the puddle as well. Pluck this one at your own risk for we can’t assure that it would be as juicy as it appears to be.

At a Glance:

Pros

  • Flow-styled interface
  • Suave Multi-tasking
  • Improved BBM services
  • New features like BlackBerry Peek, BlackBerry Screen Share, and BlackBerry Balance

Cons

  • Flow-styled interface would come with a learning curve. It takes some time to get well-acquainted with it. People who are not tech-savvy would be turning their heads around while holding this one.
  • Late entry into the market segment
  • Number of apps: 70,000 (10% of the total number of apps on Play Store)
  • Server shifts
  • Tough competition (iPhone and Android)
  • Price would always be the turn-off factor
  • Limited inventory.

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About the Author

Abhi is a tech-writer, a software engineer, a photographer, a traveler, and a coffee-lover. He’s passionate about everything that’s even remotely digital. He portrays his obsession with tech-toys in his reviews and articles. You can connect with him at [email protected] Don’t worry. We checked. He doesn’t bite.

  • Deep

    It’s do or die event for Black berry. Just like, Nokia has its hopes on Lumia Series. The path ahead for BB is very tough with its sales being 46% in U.S. in 2008 turned to 2% only in 2012. With Samsung popping its new phones at various prices and Apple being there in the market, BB might not succeed eventually. It will take some time for BB to come back into the form.