I’ve long said the Research in Motion – wait, sorry, that’s BlackBerry now – had to knock it out of the park with its new operating system. Users have drifted away to sexier smart phone offerings, and the company that was then known as RIM was trying the patience of the faithful with delay upon delay. Well, if it performs as advertised, BlackBerry genuinely has reinvented the mobile computing experience, and the OS makes Apple and Android devices look cheesy. (Yes, I’m ready for the hate-mail from the fanbois.)
I won’t bother documenting the features. I just spent the better part of two hours frantically tweeting them. You can get your fill of that from @cwceditor, on the hashtag #BB10 or BlackBerry10, or, for that matter, on any news-gathering organization’s Web site. There is something significant about the launch aside from the features.
There was something very Apple-esque about the New York launch of BlackBerry 10. It was flashy, multimedia, worldwide, and even had a stab at the Jobsian late reveal with the announcement of Alicia Keys as the company’s new global creative director. CEO Thorsten Heins's tieless suit look is no match for the late Steve Jobs’s jeans and turtleneck, and he and the execs tapped to launch the OS weren’t as slick as Steve and company, but there was an enthusiasm and approachability that’s been lacking lately. Whatever the polar opposite of aloof is, that’s the image that BlackBerry’s trying to project.
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And that’s what’s significant: They’re trying to project an image. Rather than rest on the laurels of its enterprise server and wildly popular messaging platform, BlackBerry has shown it’s willing to put in the marketing spadework. They want you back, they want app developers, and they’re willing to put in the effort.
It’s an ironic role reversal. Apple now looks like the complacent company, with nary a true innovation since the iPad. And the products just aren’t sexy anymore.
So … the ball’s in play, as of Feb. 5 in Canada. Will we see iPhone-like lineups for product releases? Not likely. The BlackBerry faithful aren’t that slavishly devoted. Like the company, they project a different image than Apple does.