So yesterday came and went with the launch of the new BlackBerry BB10 devices. The company now (finally) has renamed itself BlackBerry from RIM (Research in motion) and now we wait to see how the public take to the new devices. I was a little disappointed in the webcast from New York. There wasn’t a lot of “hype” or razzmatazz going on at the event and some of it was a bit forced and I’m not entirely sure what or where Alicia Keys fits in to the whole story but that aside what we got yesterday was a new beginning. Is it Lazarus or a Phoenix rising or is it the last charge of the light brigade, we’ll have to wait until at least Q4 2013 to determine that I think.
What we got yesterday were two devices. The Z10 all touch 4.2″ BlackBerry and the Q10 with physical keyboard packing a 3.1″ screen. The Z10 became available last night/today in the UK and Canada and the Q10 is due to launch in April across most major markets and networks. The Z10 wont arrive in the US until sometime in March.
Z10: 4.3″ screen, 1280 x 768 resolution at a density of 356ppi, 4G-LTE, 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, micro USB port for charging and a microHDMI port for hooking up to a HDTV, 8-megapixel 1080p camera on the rear of the and a 2 megapixel, 720p front-facing camera, NFC chip, WiFi, Bluetooth 4, GPS, 1800 mAh battery
Q10: 3.1″ screen, 720 x 720 resolution at a density of 311ppi, 4G-LTE, 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, micro USB port for charging and a microHDMI port for hooking up to a HDTV, 8-megapixel 1080p camera on the rear of the and a 2 megapixel, 720p front-facing camera, NFC chip, WiFi, Bluetooth 4, GPS rumour of 2100 mAh battery
These are the first two devices out of the gate from BlackBerry sporting the new BB10 OS. BlackBerry will also launch cut down versions of BB10 devices for lower tiered budgets and markets.
BB10 is a major major OS move from what BlackBerry were using before. This launch is akin to the first Android or first iOS device and I dont think this can be under played. Basically BlackBerry have built ths OS from the ground up. It’s based on the QNX operating system which powers the PlayBook. The new OS is designed to flow. Everything on the devices will be live and running. True multi tasking with no pausing of apps. I haven’t got to handle the device yet so I cannot talk too much about it other then what I’ve seen online but I do like the implementation. For me as a long term BlackBerry user I’ve always loved the “get things done” aspect of the old OS. I’m much more productive with it then any OS out there now or in the past. People will disagree and I probably can be classified as a power user but that’s where I’m coming from and hope that BB10 will continue that experience. In saying that I’m not too much of a fanboy to not understand the OS’s failings or the needs of the many (which clearly in the market place out weigh the needs of the few).
The new OS should provide multi-media experiences similar or better then existing devices and OS’s. Apps have been a common complaint and a stick with which to beat BlackBerry with so they have listened and worked hard. Remember it’s tough convincing developers to bring their apps to a brand new untested platform so BlackBerry have offered cash incentives. We know that some major apps will be available from launch. Skype, Whatsapp, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Viber, Amazon Kindle, uTorrent, Box as well as Angry Birds and we know that BlackBerry are in talks with instagram and Netflix to0. We’ll have integration of both Dropbox and Evernote into the core OS which is very much welcome. Hopefully one of my favourite apps, sugarsync, will come along to the party too.
A couple of the most exciting things for me from yesterday were the “remember” app which has deep integration in the OS. You can take notes, copy and paste from any app and sync directly to Evernote. I may not be describing it very well but when I get a device I’ll show you what I mean. We’ve also got the Camera which allows for selection of the best image so you dont get closed eye lids.The process works by taking a bust of 5-10 shots over a few milli seconds which you can then scroll through to select the perfect image. I’m also impressed with the inclusion of a micro HDMi port on the device. Something that is missing from most other devices unless you carry and use a special adaptor or cable.
BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) now allows for video calls and a cool new feature is the sharing of device screens while communicating over BBM. I think this will be very useful in the support sector. For business customers with the new devices, if connected to BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Services), it will be possible to select between work and personal screens with no movement of information between the two. This not only allows for customer flexibility in the separation of work and personal life but also for business security, something which I think many BYOD companies are ignoring to their (and possible their customers) detriment.
What has BlackBerry got going for it then? Well there’s a huge loyal fan base that’s clear. There’s also a minority market for physical keyboard devices. Carriers, believe it or not, actually prefer BlackBerry devices on their network as they are more efficient at data usage then other comparable devices. There’s also more profit on plans with BlackBerry devices due to the reduced data usage and bandwidth demands. In my mind there’s a need for real competition in the market place. This is not going to happen overnight. For BlackBerry, these devices are designed to stop the loss of customers, build the company back up to being the clear third choice OS in the world market and build for the future by restoring the company to profitability. This is going to be a long tough road but finally we have the future of BlackBerry. Sound off in the comments what you think of the new devices.
The prices of the devices have not been announced for the Irish market but will be about 500-600 euro sim free. We dont know yet the prices or plans for contracts but expect anything from free to 300euro. O2 Ireland have confirmed a March 1st launch and I suspect Vodafone to have a similar launch date.