BlackBerry 10 breathes new life into RIM

Playbook, like so much about Research in Motion these days, is a crisis of faith. Do you believe RIM will finally get it right, or move away from BlackBerry?  Months ago when the Playbook 2.0 update hit and leaks finally outed the keyboard/case thing and Blackberry London hardware, I believed in the tablet, BlackBerry 10 and RIM having a future. Or at least one last chance.

This week's BlackBerry World 2012 has renewed my confidence in RIM, and I would even say that they now have a very good chance to bounce back.

BlackBerry 10 First Impressions

The new operating system actually looks very good, and it does come off as an evolution of the Playbook OS -- while that one was a clear riff off WebOS with a bit of BB7. BB10 also pulls from both Windows Phone 7.5 and iOS 5.

The single most innovative thing is the virtual keyboard. It is intriguing and fresh. Yet still markedly BlackBerry. To do this, RIM opted for a skeuomorphic design to it that is more over the top than iPad's Virtual Keyboard. You are basically seeing a Virtual Blackberry Bold styled keyboard. RIM added visual cue response feedback to the keys that is more pronounced than the ones on either iOS or Windows Phone. And the autocomplete or word undoing has got a little bit of Swype to it. RIM took long enough -- 5 years -- but I think they finally nailed it. With some inspiration help, but hey, everyone copies.

Besides the keyboard, RIM really put a lot of emphasis on the camera software. That happens to have a very Photo Gallery alike PhotoFusion feature they call Time Warp Photo. That let you edit faces in photos by letting you choose a previous take. All this is done by using a dial gesture. Neat, but not something RIM will get to keep exclusive for long.

Finally they want to be clear that the wireless streaming to devices you can do in the Playbook or via PlayTo or AirPlay is something that will come to BB10.

On The Future

BlackBerry 10 comes during really interesting times. RIM only gets one more shot, one last call to battle.  It's do or die, and if there is a guy that can make them come out alive, Thorsten Heins is it. He replaced former co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie just three months ago. Now he takes charge of a hugely important initiative.

The moves RIM made and are doing for BB10 on the development platform, programs, incentives, etc. is everything they could have done and everything that should had been done 2 years ago. When it comes to the strategy. There is really only 5 things i can see Heins doing right now and for the coming 18 months:

  • Retain current Blackberry fans
  • Regain previous Blackberry fans
  • Continue to push on to emerging markets, where they are winning or they still got big openings, thanks to all those Symbian/Blackberry users about to choose their first or second smartphone.
  • Aim and push hard for new smartphone users in North America.
  • Don't let the development platforms be unattended even for a second.

One thing I would like Heins to do is avoid marketing confrontation with Windows Phone, iOS and Android when promoting BlackBerry 10 hardware. They have tried twice already and they have been utter disasters. But I already know that on that front they are hopeless; that "Wake Up" stunt pulled in Australia in front of an Apple Store was their doing.

RIM battle slogans and war marketing is ridiculous and futile against corporations they cannot outmaneuver or outspend or outsmart. This is not 2006. Eh, anyway. That is that.

Avatar X is a blogger from Mexico City. He has done software and tech reviews for the last 10 years. Other than that, not much is known about him. He appears to like it that way.

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