BlackBerry is back, but is it better? Experts weigh in


The long-awaited Blackberry 10 was unveiled yesterday, spurring mixed reactions.

The launch of the two new touch-screen phones is being widely regarded as the last ditch attempt of the once iconic Canadian phone maker to make up its lost market share.

From dominance a decade ago, built up in part due to businesses’ love of the easy-to-use product, Blackberry has seen its market share shrivel. It now accounts for just 2% of the US mobile market, as competition from Apple and Samsung has hit demand.

Blackberry’s chief executive Thosten Heins hailed the launch a company-wide reinventions.

The operating systems have now been given the tagline “redesigned, re-engineered, reinvented.” The phone has taken on a new smoother, rimless design, while keeping its beloved keyboard.

It has also ensured that it is compatible with most major apps, such as games and camera systems, which could previously not be downloaded. It is also 4G compatible, with EE supplying the service from today.

But while impressive, many feel the change may not be enough to rescue Blackberry.

“The new software platform will provide a temporary boost in performance but no salvation for RIM,” says Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum.

“RIM continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers. There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control.

“We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end,” he adds.

What are the papers saying?

  • Wall St Journal’s Walt Mossberg

The new interface is too different that it will confuse traditional BlackBerry users. It is closer to other smartphones now so has lost its niche.

There are not enough file sharing and file storing capabilities too but he loves the typing!

“The Z10 keyboard is the best and fastest out-of-the-box virtual keyboard I’ve used. Master BlackBerry thumb typists might not find it as fast as the traditional physical keyboard, but, for a one-finger typist like me, it was faster and more accurate than either the native keyboards on the iPhone or Android….. It learns what mistakes you typically make in hitting letters, and adjusts. And it learns words and abbreviations you frequently use…

In short, it could have a chance of getting RIM “back in the game” but only if the company attracts yet more apps.

  • The New York Times’ David Pogue

Thumbs up from the NYT it seems.

Pogue thinks it is “lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas.” The swipe unlock is “fast and cool” and likes the features that allow you to split the private and public parts of your phone.

But the BlackBerry still needs more apps!

“It could go either way. But this much is clear: BlackBerry is no longer an incompetent mess — and its doom is no longer assured,” says Pogue.

  • The Telegraph’s Matt Warman

Matt Warman at the Telegraph

Warman is a big fan of the BlackBerry Balance, which lets companies using the new BES software split the phone into “personal” and “work” spaces.

“If you work for a company that isn’t terribly forward-thinking, you may soon find they’re offering you a new BlackBerry,” he says. “But if you work for a firm that cares whether you get to work on time and thinks it might be useful that there’s a National Rail app with train times on your phone, you may not.”

All in all, he prophesises that it will not be enough to save the once iconic work phone.