The recently unveiled BlackBerry Z10 smartphone has obviously made a big impact on the market. Not only because it’s a new platform, but because it poses a serious threat to Microsoft which is struggling to sustain in the mobile industry with its Windows Phone 8 operating system. Microsoft’s initial goal was to make a mark on the growing Android and iOS marketshare, but it failed miserably at that as iPhones and Android smartphones continued to sell in millions while Microsoft had to be content with single digit marketshare(%). And now, there is a serious question that needs answering. Is BlackBerry actually a contender for the number three spot in the long run? The company certainly likes to think so and the CEO Thorsten Heins has made it very clear that they are aiming for the number three spot. Microsoft is currently clinging onto that spot, but for how long? The question is going to be asked, repeatedly.
BlackBerry 10 vs Windows Phone 8
Let’s assess the two platforms before we jump to the decision making part. Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS has been in the game since the last three years and we’re deliberately not including the Windows Mobile era so that the comparison is fair. While on the other hand, the BlackBerry 10 OS is fairly new. Yes, BlackBerry operating system existed in the past, but this is for the first time that these two platforms are competing for the same spot. And when we consider the kind of development and work gone into the BlackBerry 10 OS, it’s easy to call it an instant winner. The developers have basically taken the best out of every platform and perfected it in such a manner that even the best of the best would find trouble complaining about it. Perhaps I’m a little too prejudiced about the whole gesture thing, because I’ve been a user of Nokia’s MeeGo OS which the Finns stopped developing after they embraced Windows Phone. And the fact that there are absolutely no hardware buttons on a device might be a little intimidating to users at first, but this is something they easily get used to.
However, with Windows Phone 8, there’s no such thing as gestures. Most of the work is done by the hardware inside and the only unique thing about the platform is the Metro UI which is beginning to get a little stale now to be honest. Sure Microsoft completely reworked the homescreen of the Windows Phone OS with WP8, but it didn’t actually bring a lot to the table with regards to functionality. Another area where Microsoft falls behind in my opinion is with regards to real time multitasking. BlackBerry Z10 comes with 2GB of RAM and is a multitasking powerhouse as you might have seen from one of the videos.
What Should Microsoft Do?
The Nokia Lumia smartphones are the devices that are holding the Windows Phone ecosystem intact. We can’t imagine what would have happened to MS had it not tied up with Nokia in 2011. Their close relationship also means that Nokia gets some exclusive apps on its devices while rest of the Windows Phone 8 manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Huawei just have to settle with what the OS offers by default. No doubt, some of Nokia’s apps like Nokia Drive is one of the best navigation apps out there, but what about other manufacturers? Perhaps Microsoft should figure out a way to give equal treatment to all manufacturers. Because as we know, it’s simply not possible for Nokia to single handedly carry the Windows Phone baton all across the globe. In many Asian and European regions, precedence is given to cheaper and affordable handsets, which is why companies like Huawei and Samsung are so popular there. So when we consider all this, it’s awfully hard to be excited for Windows Phone 8.
BlackBerry 10 on the other hand has everything going in its favor. It even has more apps than Windows Phone OS had when it launched back in 2010. Although most of these apps are ported from Android, it doesn’t change the fact that BlackBerry 10 is all set for a decent launch. And while it might not be enough to topple the likes of Android and iOS, the company can easily reach the targets it has set. This we feel is the real threat for Microsoft. With people getting more and more excited towards the BB10 platform and initial impressions giving out good scores to the BlackBerry Z10, we feel it’s time Microsoft made some massive changes to its system to sustain in this highly competitive mobile industry. Because if the companies carry forward in the current pace, there’s no doubt that BlackBerry will easily snatch the number three position in the market. I guess whatever changes that Microsoft intends on making will take at least a year to come into effect considering that it’s almost mid way through the OS and perhaps some changes will be brought forth with an update in the near future.