If you’ve been following IntoMobile in the last few years, you may know that I was the one predicting demise of BlackBerry when it was at the top. I’ve found it pretty obvious that the company has stopped innovating and that the fact they lack patents prevents them from offering their devices at a more reasonable cost. Add what I call the “BIS tax” (BlackBerry service cost) to the mix and you get the idea.
Things are now different at the Canadian company and I see a lot of new people bursting with enthusiasm when talking about the platform’s prospects. And while I agree they’re onto something, I do notice one thing’s missing – some of them have no clue what their competitors are doing.
Some of the things I’ve heard:
- We have the fastest web browser out there – to which I reply: and you’re sure it will work better with Google’s web services than Chrome?
- You can connect your BlackBerry to a TV via HDMI cable and use your phone as remote. I said: Cool, I can do that with my Android phone without a single wire (Miracast or Wi-Di on some Intel-based Android devices).
- We have the best conversation (not just email) client in the Hub. It’s true that Hub is awesome, but it doesn’t give GMail users “proper” support. For instance, you can’t Archive an email. Some BlackBerry folks even wanted to convince me that I shouldn’t manage my email the way I was doing it for the last 5 (or so) years? Yeah, sure…
- You can easily share stuff with BlackBerry. Really? Can I manage multiple Facebook pages from the Z10? Can I add stuff to my Buffer queue?
Please note that all these things are fixable and that I believe BlackBerry did great job with BlackBerry 10. There are some obstacles ahead, though:
- BYOD – with employees being able to use their own devices at work, BlackBerry sales will suffer. While Z10 and Q10 are selling well, their figures don’t come even close to those of iOS and Android devices.
- Enterprise competition is getting stronger – just recently United States has approved Samsung Knox and iOS devices (in addition to BlackBerry 10) as “safe enough” for the military. BlackBerry used to be the sole contender in this market.
So what should BlackBerry be doing?
The way I see it, they must hire new kind of people – Android users (willing to switch). This is the group of people where BlackBerry should look for, as previous BlackBerry users will likely upgrade (but is that enough?). While Android has many flaws, it also attracts more developers.
The point I want to make is that BlackBerry shouldn’t make a feature-for-feature comparison with other platforms; cause it will lose it, big time. For instance, its camera software is only good (and still not on par with that of Samsung, HTC and Nokia) because they’ve licensed many elements from Scalado (now part of Nokia). Overall, I would say that BlackBerry isn’t too appealing to the younger audience since they can’t find their favorite apps for the platform. Think official apps for Pinterest, Fancy, Tumblr, Quora as well as a number of games (Rovio still doesn’t support BlackBerry 10).
But this doesn’t mean the Z10 and Q10 are bad devices; quite the contrary, I find them well balanced, positioned in their own category. As soon as old-school BlackBerry folks start explaining their features and compare them with what’s else on the market, the hell unleashes and I keep waiting to hear something I don’t already have on my Android phone. And instead of me praising the platform (my original intention) I end up “attacking” it. Kinda weird…
Finally, we would love to see that tablet shell I’ve talked about yesterday. Such a product could make a big difference, or so I think. What do you say?
P.S. I’ll continue to rant about BlackBerry in the coming days and weeks. Next time I’ll be looking at the Z10′s design and how it can be improved. Stay tuned…