Blackberry 10 needs to be cooler than the competition, says guest blogger Tim Collins

Three more dragons to slay before RIM
With the impending release of Blackberry 10, RIM is at the cliffhanger of an epic story.
 
Remember when RIM was the hero that brought us push email and instant messaging, and the term “crackberry” was coined? They triumphed for years as the number one mobile device, in spite of patent wars and scandals. 
 
RIM was unstoppable. Until…
 
…Apple dealt them a quick one-two punch with the iPod, quickly followed by the iPhone. Then RIM made a potentially fatal error: They responded with sub-par touchscreen devices that only strengthened the demand for iPhones.
 
Now we wait impatiently for RIM’s long overdue challenge to the iPhone: Blackberry 10. Will it be awesome enough to redeem RIM and save thousands of jobs at the company?
 
Things look promising. RIM is inching closer to releasing the first BB10 device, which gives them the potential to rise back up to a solid top three spot. Sneak peeks of BB10 developer devices look great.
 
Personally, I can’t wait to get a BB10. And I’m not alone. We always see a lot of demand for iOS and Android mobile developers from our clients at Stafflink.ca. We’re very excited to start placing QNX developers for BB10 apps.
 
But even if Blackberry 10 is the mobile operating system we’ve all been waiting for, RIM still has three more dragons to slay before they begin to rise back up as a mobile superpower.
Dragon 1: Public perception that Blackberrys are not cool

The challenge isn’t for BB10 devices to be cooler than Apple phones. The market can support many “cool” smartphones. But BB10 does need to carve out its own niche of cool.

RIM needs to overcome the stigma of selling Blackberryss with disappointing touchscreens and inferior Web browsers to users who are either forced to use them by employers, or locked into three year plans–not cool. Meanwhile, their friends are showing off new iPhones with impeccable touch screens, fast browsing and great apps.

But from what we’ve seen, BB10 might bring the coolness factor back. Check out this video to get a little taste of what RIM has in store for us.
Dragon 2: Confusion about how to use BB10
 
Blackberry 10 is a do-or-die moment for RIM. The new operating system offers a brand-new workflow with innovative ways to interact with the touchscreen. But if people are confused by the new operating system, it could mean death for BB10 and, thus, the demise of RIM.
 
Releasing a revolutionary OS is a gigantic risk, because when people look at the new device for the first time, it will be completely unfamiliar. But what other choice does RIM have? They are fighting for survival, and they can’t compete by creating an iPhone clone.
 
BB10 has to be extremely intuitive, or at least come with a great tutorial. It needs to wow the people selling the devices. If sales staff and users are frustrated and confused by BB10, they will bail. Worse, they will tell their friends that they hate the OS.
 
Then it’s all over.
 
Flow. Hub. Peek. These are some of the labels RIM uses to describe the revolutionary features that may make the BB10 touchscreen superior to Apple’s iOS, or the Samsung Galaxy versions of Android.
 
Here’s a sneak peek:
 
* Blackberry Flow
Allows you to easily navigate your touchscreen with simple swipes to access multiple active applications, live Web pages, and notifications. You can flow between multiple tasks like e-mailing, social media sharing, messaging and phone calls without having to open and close programs.

* Blackberry Hub

 
 
Allows you to access your email, messagse, calendar events and social media notifications, all on one handy screen.

* Blackberry Peek
 
 
Allows you to swipe your current active screen to the side so you can have a quick peek at incoming notifications in your Blackberry Hub. Awesome!
 
Dragon 3: Romancing the Carriers
 
This may be the toughest dragon of all. I think a smart move would be to give BB10 phones to managers and assistant managers at retail stores. Picture this: a launch party where only retail salespeople are invited. Dazzle them and train them on all the cool new features. When people walk into the store they can then be greeted by a sales team that is in love with BB10.
 
Yes, it’s possible that RIM can win this battle. On Nov. 1, RIM shares climbed nearly 10 per cent after CEO Thorsten Heins stated that more than 50 carriers are now “excitedly” testing BlackBerry 10 on their networks.


Is too late for BB10 to save RIM?
 
Even if they do slay all of these dragons, let’s face it: RIM should’ve released this product a year ago. How many people are going to go into a retail store when their contract is up and ask to see the new BB?
 
I will, along with several of my staff at Stafflink.ca, who are currently using the iPhone 4.
 
RIM has already convinced many bloggers and developers that the BB10 is the next great thing in mobile. Now they need to fight to keep their existing customers and win back their former customers.
 
But I’m hopeful that RIM can win. And here are just a couple reasons why:
 
RIM added 2 million subscribers since the fiscal second quarter of 2012
 
According to a report covered by Knowlton Thomas in Techvibes, 18 per cent of mobile users in Canada plan to make their next smartphone a BlackBerry and more Canadians plan to buy a Blackberry than an Android.
 
What do you think? Does RIM have a chance to win this battle?
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