15 Days with the Z10: Has BlackBerry done enough?

POSTED BY Nitin Bhas
Two weeks back, BlackBerry (previously RIM) revealed their new BlackBerry 10 OS and their new line of smartphones:  the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, two devices which will be running the new BlackBerry 10 OS. I have been using the Z10, touted as a competitor to the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s S3, for the past two weeks. So what is new about the BlackBerry 10? Obviously, one can see the totally new look, design and feel. However, the big question here is: Does it work? Will this revive BlackBerry’s fortunes? Will the Z10 convert Android and iOS users? Well, first things first, the BlackBerry 10 has some very cool features and NO, it is not like any other iPhone or Android device. The BB 10 is indeed a whole new experience and a whole new UI (even Apple and Android fanboys agree with me here...). The device is completely gesture based - swipe to unlock, go back to home, minimise an app, for options and to ‘peek’. This all-gesture based UI (there is some similarity with the PlayBook) is quite neat, modern and consistent. BlackBerry Flow is really elegant letting you switch between several apps and the Hub with just a gesture. So, this means that there is no menu button or back button. The BlackBerry Hub combines your email, text messages, BBM messages, tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, appointments and reminders in a complete, always-on information source, available right from when the device is switched on. Another feature – the intelligent swipe based predictive texting – is very clever and unique. It learns your typing style and suggests a number of words very accurately. Now, without going into any of the software or hardware details let me address the questions I noted earlier. Does it work: has BlackBerry done enough? Once the market leader, BlackBerry is fighting hard and is undoubtedly fighting back to regain its market share. The new device and OS is indeed promising – it is very modern and well designed. Obviously, they have done enough to keep existing customers, especially the enterprise base, happy. However, trying to stop customers from switching away or keeping existing customers satisfied is not enough – they need more Android and iOS users to switch or convert. In terms of range, the apps on offer (70,000) fall well short of competitor offerings (more than 800,000 on each of Google Play and Apple’s App Store, and more than 150,000 on the Windows Phone Store). From my personal experience with the phone over the past 15 days, they have done enough to tempt other users but not enough to completely switch. All the new features mentioned above are really cool, useful and attractive, but there simply isn’t the killer app there which gives the average consumer the “WOW” factor. But, I am sure the device has a lot to offer to the consumer and enterprise base equally. In fact, the new device is particularly attractive from an enterprise perspective especially with the BlackBerry Balance feature, a perfect built for enterprise & BYOD – read here. However, taking into account all this we believe the Canadian company will struggle to enhance its market share in 2013. Having said that, BlackBerry has done exceptionally well to bring out such a good device and OS, despite a number of setbacks and disruption. So it is only fair that we give the new BlackBerry ecosystem some time to grow and drive further competition and innovation within the smartphone and OS marketplace.