Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry, have gone quiet in recent months. Back in June they tried their hand at an awful advertising campaign here in Australia, one in which they went to extraordinary lengths to direct people towards their already-none-month old range of smartphones, all of which are vastly underpowered compared to the competition and with few apps to speak of – and all for only slightly more than a high-end Android phone.
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Somehow this genius move failed to pay dividends, and BlackBerry has since stayed mostly silent about their plans, which mostly seem to draw interest from tech journalists looking for something to make fun of (*cough*).
But as we come up to Christmas, RIM seemed ready to unleash their latest and greatest to the world. Almost. Kinda.
At the BlackBerry Jam conference last week, RIM unveiled some new videos of their Alpha development device running BlackBerry OS10. It looks very good, with smooth scrolling and innovations that can’t be ignored. Flow, their multi-tasking feature, trumps iOS, Windows Phone and Android in the it-just-works acid test, with applications running for real and for true in the background. How this will work without leaking battery acid everywhere is still a mystery.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is arguably the best feature of the BlackBerry OS, and its getting a nice UI update.
One feature that is being focused on, that the other mobile operating systems have largely ignored, is the ability to fully switch profiles from personal to business. This is a truly fantastic idea, if pulled off well. If it does little beyond crippling several features that Rim deem ‘for the bizness’…well then.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has pledged that BBOS 10 will beat Windows Phone, meaning that he’s boasting that his system will beat the current third place finisher in a three horse race- a finisher that has been lapped several times by the frontrunners. How this instills confidence is a mystery – though if he were to suggest that RIM can come back to challenge Apple, Android, Samsung and HTC, he’d be committed.
He also has no dates for when this magic act is going to happen. Windows Phone 8 is about to launch in the next few weeks, with the very exciting Nokia Lumia 920 set to debut in November. Samsung and Apple have just gone through a huge round of upgrades, signing on happy customers for another two years. HTC have regained some market share and even more respectability thanks to their excellent One line, with some new releases set before Christmas. How RIM will be able to ride any excitement over their vaporphone into an actual release date somewhere in the next six months is a complete mystery. Even rumours of a super-handset with 2GB of RAM and quad-core processor look lame in light of the fact that LG are releasing big-spec phones with little to show for it. By the time a BlackBerry release goes on sale, these specs could be de rigueur.
Appy Appy Joy Joy
The delays are likely coming from the push by RIM to be loaded up with apps from Day One. The 100,000+ apps currently available won’t be compatible with OS10, so they all need overhauls.
At the Jam Conference, a RIM executive said that all the major social networks will have full featured apps at launch. Other standout developers include Box.Net, Cisco and dozens of media partners, with magazine, music and video content to all be ready for launch.
Most of all, RIM seems determined to not repeat the mistake of the Playbook, their 7 inch tablet release from Late 2010, which was launched with a half baked operating system and few apps that took advantage of the otherwise impressive hardware.
So yes, BlackBerry is still around, just waiting for a chance to POUNCE! And win back your heart. And frankly, it’s not a bad thing if they do, but it’s still fun to beat up on them. Especially when part of their strategy for keeping developers on board includes embarrassing stunts like this.
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