• BB10: My thoughts before the launch.


    A few years ago, RIM was the top dog in the Smartphone arena. Since then, competitors like Android and iOS have emerged and surpassed Blackberry.

    Smartphones havenít been a niche market for some time now, so the cost to enter the market is very high now. In fact, Android and iOS have become so entrenched through their platforms and ecosystems that itís hard to imagine anyone muscling in on their racket.

    So, with the imminent release of Blackberry 10 next week I canít help but wonder whether this will be the last big Smartphone OS launch. Going forward, Android and iOS will probably only get stronger. After BB10, the only new entrants weíre going to see are niche players like Tizen, Ubuntu, Firefox OS or possibly something really cheap; not really aimed at the North American market. Though Android already has cheap covered. Actually, in the future we probably wonít have any new OS' but rather weíll see companies fork Android and do their own thing with it like Amazon.

    But enough of Android, back onto RIM and BlackBerry 10.
    Sometimes people ask me what chance Blackberry has. RIM has been doing a great job of controlling leaked information about the upcoming BB10 software and hardware. Itís really helped in creating a viral like buzz, so kudos to that.

    While the hardware and software look like solid a Smartphone OS, itís now about being more than just that. Itís about "ecosystems". Everyone makes solid hardware now. Last year I reviewed around 50 phones and you know what? None of them sucked. Itís just such a competitive market that as long as you spend around $400 before contract (which usually works out to a $0 phone on contract) youíre going to get something good. Heck, even Huawei which was known for making cheap entry level phones has some real gems in their lineup.

    Part of the reason for this is because everyone has access to similar hardware components. Yeah Apple and Samsung have their own custom processors but generally speaking, theyíre not going to be years ahead of the competition. So in that sense I expect RIMís BB10 hardware to be in the same ballpark as what you get from the competition.

    Moving onto software I also expect it to be pretty good. I hate to oversimplify it, but RIM knows that the software must be a homerun because the competition is also pretty good. They took their time with BB10 so I would be a little surprised if it wasn't.

    Now back to the ecosystem; is RIM doing enough to seduce developers to their platform? On iOS and Android you can spend days downloading and trying really good apps. This probably wonít be the case on BB10 though Iíd be happy for them to prove me wrong. They are estimated to currently have 70,000 apps lined up, so it sounds promising, but if Windows Phone has taught me anything, quantity never equals quality. And what about media consumption? Is BBM Music still a thing? Was it ever popular amongst BB users? Movies, TV shows, how will it interact and sync across devices, and share things? Will RIM neglect this market for the sake of consumer simplicity and corporate privacy they constantly pride themselves on? Is their pride justified? I don't know.

    The ecosystem isn't something to be over-looked, in fact if we look at Amazon and how they distorted Android to their own vision of their ecosystem, one can argue that the ecosystem is more powerful than the platform itself. After all the Kindle Fire is amongst the most popular Android tablets.

    The real big question mark is whether consumers will be interested in BB10. I often like to compare the computer industry and the mobile industry - at least the personal computing one. In the personal computing industry we have basically have 3 players; Windows, Mac with Linux as a small player. Remember, Iím talking personal - you donít need to point out to me how awesome Linux servers are.

    Anyways, I see something similar happening in the Smartphone space. Weíll have Android, iOS and probably a small third player. Will it be BB10?

    When I talk to my phone nerd friends, one topic that sometimes comes up is; Windows Phone or BB10? Like I said before itís assumed that there will be 3 players; two strong ones and a third choice. So it will probably be Blackberry vs Windows Phone battling it out for the coveted bronze medal.

    On one hand, Windows Phone is made by Microsoft which has "zillions" of dollars and theyíll probably keep pushing Windows Phone until it succeeds. They did the same thing with XBox. It took Microsoft quite a while before they were making money on XBox. On the other hand, Windows Phone and Windows Mobile have never really connected with consumers. When people buy a computer, they usually buy a Windows machine. When they buy a phone they donít. (Come to think of it, if MS had Google as a rival on the desktop, would customers really want MS anyways?.. Another discussion later I suppose)

    As for Blackberry they donít have "zillions" of dollars lying around, but at the same time many people used a Blackberry at some point or have a definite familiarity with the brand and it's association with smartphones. In fact, if youíre reading this Iím almost certain you once owned a Pearl, Bold or a Curve. Unlike Windows, Blackberry has connected with consumers in the past and so this may make it easier for them to reconnect again.

    Now when I think about a new OS launching and potentially failing, the first thing that comes to mind is Palmís WebOS (may it rest in piece). When it first launched I thought it was so far ahead of everything else on the market. The hardware was solid - well not literally, the phone was actually pretty chintzy but it was still a nice piece. The software was ahead of everything else on the market. So why did WebOS fail?

    First off WebOS launched on Sprint. Nothing against Sprint but putting it just on Sprint really limits its reach. Many carriers have announced that they will be launching BB10 so right away theyíre off to a better start.

    Another reason why WebOS died is that the hardware got stale. The Pre was out for too long and by the time they refreshed it, it was too late. They actually refreshed it a third time but by then it was way past its expiration date. Rumors have it that RIM will be bringing out around 8 different skuís so, hopefully things wonít grow stale.

    Interestingly, the media has been talking about RIM being carved up and sold off. This actually happened to Palm. They got bought by HP which then let things get really out of date, hardware-wise. If this does happen to RIM, for the love of God, stay on top of things and keep releasing hardware.

    Nothing is certain except that itís going to be an uphill battle for RIM. The crackberry in me wants them to succeed, regain some lost ground and get some momentum. It's been a long time since anyone got excited about a BlackBerry release. I want nothing more than for RIM to start producing new innovations again.

    I hope RIM can create the a thriving ecosystem that people so very much desire. And I hope if nothing else works, they don't sell to HP... they ruined a good thing with WebOS.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: BB10: My thoughts before the launch. started by howard View original post
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. Tendenzi's Avatar
      Tendenzi -
      couldn't agree any more Howard!

      RIM's make it or break it hinders on so many factors, and it's hard to imagine they could consider it all. It's hard enough to comprehend the mobile industry as it is, consumers are crazy when they shift from one thing to another, with out any predictable movement other than they get bored. Maybe BB10 will excite over Android and iOS?

      Although, I look back at the Playbook and have very little faith consumers will care. The fanboys will at least have a modern OS finally though for their preferred platform.
    1. FallenAnjel's Avatar
      FallenAnjel -
      Hey!! You found my AOL Mobile Communicator!!!
      Yes, I was one of the 5 people who had one.
      Spent $250 on it, paid $20 a month ON TOP OF my $23 AOL subscription. Less than a year later while moving, one of our cats snuck onto the moving truck and jumped out when we opened the door. I chased her thru the woods for almost an hour. I got her, but I lost the Communicator. That was in February of 2003. Wow, 10 years!
    1. DerekToronto's Avatar
      DerekToronto -
      To me RIM has to work with the software develops a lot more closely. Giving them much more support and the tools to fast track their development. Software companies needs to release titles now.
    1. Supa_Fly's Avatar
      Supa_Fly -
      Good article and good perception.

      However this is my take Howard and I'd like for you and others to comment as well. In my opinion the "smartphone ecosystem" has reached its peak! This 'ecosystem' is basically what the PC had been for about 5-7yrs ... as Apple once called it ... "the hub"; take not what RIM calls 'the hub' is a particular feature located on their smartphone is not simply a coincidence.

      The next frontier, although we will see desktop OS' run in a VM on the smartphone, is something different ... two fold:

      M2M - machine to machine ecosystems
      replacement of desktops - tablets are becoming powerful more than ever before: Psion ancient tablets, then WinCE (traders in NASDAQ/NYSE used these, as well as fraud bank machine theives ~ I've seen this first hand being setup), and iOS/Android ... but Microsoft's Surface 8 Pro is what teh ultrabooks will evolve too ... truly desktop powerful applications becoming easily accessible in a mobile space. This will trickle down to the smartphones soon enough.

      RIM has a NOC ... wether they make sales or not you can BET that Ericsson, Apple, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Nokia-Siemens, and so many others will RACE for patents and purchasing of patents and especially that NOC infrastructure that ties into more than 208 worldwide providers globally - the BIGGEST of them all! More to the likes that Reuters or Bloomberg fancied skyrocketing purchase prices for Nortel.

      Read this article I wrote I promise you'll be astounded.

      RIM – BB10 True End-Game is QNX & NOC!

      I am Donny, aka Prom1 (formerly named so here on howardforums for years.
    1. Supa_Fly's Avatar
      Supa_Fly -
      Quote Originally Posted by DerekToronto View Post
      To me RIM has to work with the software develops a lot more closely. Giving them much more support and the tools to fast track their development. Software companies needs to release titles now.
      RIM is working closure than ANY other manufacturer of a mobile smartphone probably more than anyone else ever has .. both big and the indi developer kid with zits in their parents house! The issue with 'software companies needing to release titles now' for BB10 is their own decision process. They want to see numbers! They want to charge $$ cold and ruthless ... as DJ Slick once said "If it don't make dollars, it don't make sense!"

      That's how it is ... and when they sell over 5 million in the first launch quarter - keep in mind we're already about half way in their new quarter even if they sell on January 30th ... we will not see a proper reflection of sales when they report on March 18/19th ... but in June for a full fiscal qtr reporting.

      I still believe that Thorstein is referencing licensing software he's thinking of the kernel QNX - which is already done in so many markets it'll make your head spin! The hardware business SHOULD have been sold out - or better yet handled by another manufacturer ... I stated LG was looking over 12mths ago on this very site - I was scorned and laughed at! Can you imagine the first BB10 device looking like an Optimus G or Nexus 4?! and THAT costing less than $500CAN retail?! Imagine what a high-end premium device LG could do for RIM's BB10 lineup!!
    1. Mr.Conviviality's Avatar
      Mr.Conviviality -
      I think the only lunch BBX is to eat will be out of android's lunch bag. I don' tknow what the facination or attraction to android is, as my experience with all the cookies and jellybeans and ice creams of the world have been so poor I'm continually perplexed by what the fans are so pleased about. Not to say that I have any respect for iOS either, but I digress...

      Notwithstanding, if it's quality, it will sell. I do believe that if BBX gets the rave reviews, many will use that as an opportunity to get back into their upgraded and fortified BBM experience

      If they can sustain the positive energy around BBX for at least 6-12 months, the tides will turn. They just need to break away from the "too little, too late" problems they had in the past by delivering the required change.
    1. mikeo007's Avatar
      mikeo007 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      Attachment 89074

      The real big question mark is whether consumers will be interested in BB10. I often like to compare the computer industry and the mobile industry - at least the personal computing one. In the personal computing industry we have basically have 3 players; Windows, Mac with Linux as a small player. Remember, Iím talking personal - you donít need to point out to me how awesome Linux servers are.
      Nice post, I enjoyed reading your opinion Howard. One particular piece I wanted to comment on is quoted above.

      Will consumers be interested in BB10? Or more to the point, will the average consumer care? I believe that BB10 will sell "well enough". I think there are enough diehard Blackberry users to sell a few 100k units off the hop. With good advertising, I'm sure they can grab some people who are sitting on the fence as well.

      But for everyone else, what does this new BlackBerry offer over the competition? And I'm talking about tangible benefits here. Reading around, I see all sorts of stuff about QNX this and multitasking that being touted as major "features" of this new phone. Well when it comes to the average consumer, are they going to notice any real difference from what's out there, or what they're already using? My Bold 9700 multitasks just fine. My Samsung Galaxy does all the multitasking I need it to. Even my iPhone, which is arguably the weakest in the multitasking category still does everything I need it to.

      There's the new hub which displays all messages in a single place, accessible by a (slightly cumbersome) L-shaped gesture. What does this hub offer me over what android and iPhone provide with their respective notification centres? It's a different method of viewing my notifications and messages. Not better, not worse, just different.

      So what we're left with is a core experience that's, at best, "as good as" what's already out there. I'll be very interested to see how sales go after the initial "boom" from the excited BlackBerry faithful minority.

      I think BB10 has what it takes to win back the smartphone market--in a vacuum. Unfortunately for RIM, but fortunately for us as consumers, we're living in a smartphone market that's full of excellent options. Whatever you choose, you're probably getting a good device. The big question is, do you want a device that's shaped and moulded the smartphone market into what it is today, or do you want to try something slightly different, that's just trying to be as good as the others?
    1. baayers's Avatar
      baayers -
      All though I agree with a lot of what has already been said I think that whether it has a long or short life will depend on software vendors deciding to jump on board and make apps for the OS. The playbook was a good example as the internals of the operating system and its overall capabilities were amazing. The web browser in my opinion was the best one I had ever seen on a tablet device and did better with tasks such as allowing flash content to be properly displayed and overall page rendering. I think we can all agree that RIM was partially responsible for its downfall by not waiting until the email program was ready however when you ask most people why they didn't get one it was the lack of apps such as Skype and Netflix that for a lot of people including my self are apps that get used on a daily bases. I won a PB from here in September and all though I liked it the lack of apps I needed found my self giving it to a family friend who mainly wanted to do things such as read newspapers and check email and watch videos on youtube from time to time. This is not intended to bash RIM as much as it is to hope that BB10 is the second chance they needed and get the app development that will bring in the users.
    1. Mann Incognito's Avatar
      Mann Incognito -
      Quote Originally Posted by baayers View Post
      All though I agree with a lot of what has already been said I think that whether it has a long or short life will depend on software vendors deciding to jump on board and make apps for the OS. The playbook was a good example as the internals of the operating system and its overall capabilities were amazing. The web browser in my opinion was the best one I had ever seen on a tablet device and did better with tasks such as allowing flash content to be properly displayed and overall page rendering. I think we can all agree that RIM was partially responsible for its downfall by not waiting until the email program was ready however when you ask most people why they didn't get one it was the lack of apps such as Skype and Netflix that for a lot of people including my self are apps that get used on a daily bases. I won a PB from here in September and all though I liked it the lack of apps I needed found my self giving it to a family friend who mainly wanted to do things such as read newspapers and check email and watch videos on youtube from time to time. This is not intended to bash RIM as much as it is to hope that BB10 is the second chance they needed and get the app development that will bring in the users.
      I agree. I can't say I was one of the first to get a PlayBook but I got it fairly early in its life. It was merely "OK" and certainly was a better piece of kit than RIM was allowing it to be. It has matured into an excellent tablet now and some of the Bridge functions have become essentials in my day to day work life.

      Having said that, RIM can't afford to have another PlayBook on their hands when they launch the Z10, people just wouldn't have the patience to wait for it to fulfil its potential. I have a Dev Alpha and have had the Z10 demonstrated to me and what I've seen so far is pretty impressive. As I've said in a previous thread RIM has stated that what we're seeing on the dev and eval units only represents 40% of the final OS and there will be plenty of surprises on the 30th. I'm looking forward to what they pull out of the hat.

      As to apps, RIM's damned if the do; damned if they don't. They will be launching with a minimum of 70,000 apps but we'll probably see a lot more than that. Rumours suggest 122,000 apps on launch Seems reasonable to me, WP8 launched with only 5,000 apps and are playing catch up as we speak. If the Z10 launching with "only" 70,000 it'll still be a record for a new OS launch. The issue is with how others see it. I was involved in a conversation with a "fandroid" a week or so ago and she flat out said "I don't care if the Z10 launches with 150,000 apps, Android has 450,000." A few days later I was reading a report about how Apple and Android users generally only download from the top 50 or 100 apps, depending on system, so really 450,000 apps (Android) or ~1,000,000 apps (Apple) is really rather moot. Despite the lack of apps for the PlayBook I have everything I need and want. The issue is, how does RIM get around this problem? Can they successfully market a device that's devoid of fart apps and filler? Or do they have to load up BlackBerry World with junk apps to make it succeed?

      Which brings me to Skype and Netflix. I've never used Skype and I know nobody who does. A few months ago an article in an ezine I was reading (I'll try and find the link later) was talking about how many people have Skype on their mobile devices and how few actually use it. It seems Skype usage follows the pattern that it does on a PC; as soon as it's downlaoded it's used in a frenzy for a few days or maybe weeks and then it sits mostly unused. It's a desirable app that many people don't need but have to have because it's, well, Skype. Of course the perception of not having Skype on BB10 will do more harm than good and it's pretty safe to say that it'll be there on launch either included in the package or a stand alone option. Skype icons were found on the last update for the dev units.

      As to Netflix, I have mixed feelings about it but I think it's pretty safe to say that it's one of those desirable apps that people have learned to use to judge the worth of a device. Netflix Canada is a mess, the selection is truly awful and the quality so-so. Netflix US on the other hand seems to be much more solidly put together and the range of TV shows alone could make it worth someone's while. But is it really necessary to prove a device's worth? Of course it's not, especially in Canada, but what does RIM do? My guess is it'll show up at some point but not at launch giving the boo-birds something to whine about.

      Do I think that BB10 will be a success? From what I've seen so far, yes. Do I think RIM has created the excitement amongst the dev community for there to be decent app support? Again, yes. I had an email from a dev friend of mine in the UK who was bragging how easy it was for him to port his Android and iOS apps to BB10 and it only took him 10-15 minutes per app. This is not unusual if you follow dev blogs or Twitter feeds. The excitement is out there and RIM has done a brilliant job of marshalling BB10 to its launch. Hopefully they'll be able to keep it up on January 31 and beyond.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      I don't think the software will offer significantly more than the competition. I think the Blackberry brand is still worth something so that as long as it's good enough, it will sell. Will it sell more than Android and iOS? Of course not but I don't think it will bomb.

      That said, look at the Playbook. It's a nice device with a Blackberry logo so maybe I'm over-valuing their Brand. Then again, maybe the Playbook is a good example of why phone success does not necessarily translate to tablets and other markets.

      Quote Originally Posted by mikeo007 View Post
      Nice post, I enjoyed reading your opinion Howard. One particular piece I wanted to comment on is quoted above.

      Will consumers be interested in BB10? Or more to the point, will the average consumer care? I believe that BB10 will sell "well enough". I think there are enough diehard Blackberry users to sell a few 100k units off the hop. With good advertising, I'm sure they can grab some people who are sitting on the fence as well.

      But for everyone else, what does this new BlackBerry offer over the competition? And I'm talking about tangible benefits here. Reading around, I see all sorts of stuff about QNX this and multitasking that being touted as major "features" of this new phone. Well when it comes to the average consumer, are they going to notice any real difference from what's out there, or what they're already using? My Bold 9700 multitasks just fine. My Samsung Galaxy does all the multitasking I need it to. Even my iPhone, which is arguably the weakest in the multitasking category still does everything I need it to.

      There's the new hub which displays all messages in a single place, accessible by a (slightly cumbersome) L-shaped gesture. What does this hub offer me over what android and iPhone provide with their respective notification centres? It's a different method of viewing my notifications and messages. Not better, not worse, just different.

      So what we're left with is a core experience that's, at best, "as good as" what's already out there. I'll be very interested to see how sales go after the initial "boom" from the excited BlackBerry faithful minority.

      I think BB10 has what it takes to win back the smartphone market--in a vacuum. Unfortunately for RIM, but fortunately for us as consumers, we're living in a smartphone market that's full of excellent options. Whatever you choose, you're probably getting a good device. The big question is, do you want a device that's shaped and moulded the smartphone market into what it is today, or do you want to try something slightly different, that's just trying to be as good as the others?
    1. mdancy's Avatar
      mdancy -
      I recently picked up another Playbook 16GB wi-fi for $80. I heard that BB10 will be available to install on it and I've seen some youtube videos with it. For $80 to have a responsive tablet with some (hopefully) cool apps, I don't think that you could go wrong with that deal.

      Once I picked up the Playbook, I realized how much I missed my old BB Torch 9800 and went and picked up another one which actually costs MORE then the Playbook. Blackberry may just win me back as a customer with this OS.

      Our company is due for a hardware upgrade. We had Blackberry's way back when then switched to IOS but the iPhone 5 fell flat of our expectations so it's down to the Android market or back to Blackberry. IF RIM can get small companies like us to come back, they may get even more small clients and that could create a whole tidal wave of recouped business.

      just a wild thought on it.. but hoping for the best.
    1. gweneams's Avatar
      gweneams -
      So many fanboys here. Let's hope BB got it right because more competition is a good thing, but based on their recent performance I am not hopeful. It seems to be the old story of management not looking far enough forward and inertia taking them into the rocks. Some here have said that fans will jump on board, but the corporate decision makers will be slow to jump on board for fear of being stuck on a sinking ship. I hope BB does well and proves me wrong.
    1. CGY Guy's Avatar
      CGY Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by gweneams View Post
      So many fanboys here.
      Look where you are. It's the BB forum.