There was much anticipation for yesterday’s Blackberry event from tech analysts and Blackberry loyalists. Many have called yesterday’s event as Blackberry’s moment of truth because this somehow seems to be their last stand when it comes to recovering their former glory. So, there have been a quite a few changes with RIM. The company has officially changed its name to Blackberry. This is a welcome change as far as we are concerned as it positions the Blackberry brand in a strong manner. Apparently, they had been considering this change for a quite some time. Besides that, we have the new Blackberry 10 platform and the new phones.
The unveiling of the platform took place simultaneously in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai and Johannesburg. The India launch will take place soon even though we can’t confirm the exact date. The company released 2 new smartphones which represent the two different types of users – ones who like the physical keyboard and the ones who prefer the full touch experience. The phones are called Q10 and Z10 respectively.
This phone is Blackberry’s way of keeping its legacy alive even though they have completely overhauled the OS. The phone has a touch and type input and I have say that it looks sleek as hell! The phone has a 3.1 inch display, 720*720 Super AMOLED screen, pixel density of 328 ppi, 1.5 GHz dual core CPU and 2 GB of RAM. It has all the specs working out for it. Take a look at the introductory video below.
This is the new Blackberry flagship! This phone comes with 4.2 inch screen with a 1280*768 display. It has a front facing 2 MP camera and LED notification. The front facing camera can record videos in 720p while the 8 MP main camera can record video in 1080p. The Z10 comes without any physical buttons on the screen except for volume rockers, play/pause button for music on the side and the sleep/wake button. The phone supports external storage up to 32 GB. It comes with a 16 GB internal storage, which should be more than enough for most people. The phone requires a Micro-SIM card. The phone supports NFC and LTE just like the Q10. Operating the phone is based mostly on gestures like right and left swipe. Pricing for both phones have yet to be announced for India.
You will not be able to get your hands on both the devices until March for Z10 and April for Q10.
The new platform does look sleek at first sight. The design has changed for the better and the product looks cohesive a whole. You now get an integrated inbox called the Blackberry Hub where you can deal with all your personal/work emails, BBM messages, social updates and other notifications. You can access the HUB from anywhere as just one swipe brings it up for you.
Multitasking is present and the whole thing is called Blackberry Flow which makes apps integrate with each other. An example Blackberry has provided is that you can access a meeting attendee list and easily get to see their tweets or LinkedIN profile. We can only comment on this feature once we have got a hands on with the device.
The company says that the keyboard has been improved and that it adapts automatically to your usage. Like we reported before, BBM now allows you to call and video chat on Wifi in addition to screensharing abilities. A new feature called Blackberry Balance will separate your work and personal content on the device. This is an enterprise feature and can only be activated by your company’s IT guy. This apparently secures work and personal content and makes them run separately.
Other features include Time Shift – a camera feature which lets you click perfect group shots and a Story Maker which converts your images and videos into a story with your help. The Blackberry 10 browser supports HTML5, has multiple tabs, private viewing mode and a reader mode.
Blackberry Remember is a new feature which helps you keep track of your tasks and memos. Basically it is like an integrated to-do list which spans all content types. It also has Outlook Tasks and Evernote support. There is also support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.
All of these seem like a good bunch of features overall but yet there is nothing like a breakout feature compared to other platforms. Blackberry will have to keep constantly working on making the platform better.
BB 10 Apps:
Now the apps are the core for any mobile platform ecosystem and Blackberry seems have worked really hard over the last year to get as much as 70,000 apps on its platform during the launch. This is an extremely good job done by the company because wooing app developers to contribute to a new platform where the results are uncertain, is a tough job.
Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Disney Games like Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Perry? in addition to Angry Birds are some of the popular apps that have been ported to the platform. Cisco has also committed to bring its Webex technology to the platform, thus giving an advantage to the enterprise users. Many other popular apps are said to be in the pipeline.
Blackberry has appointed popular music performer and vocalist Alicia Keys to be its Global Creative Director. This is somewhat of a trend now where musicians have been asked to take care of the creative duties of a company, the previous one being Will.I.AM being appointed as VP at Intel. I don’t know what to say here except for ‘hey, if it works then why not!’
Final thoughts and analysis:
The company has shown promise. Although it didn’t exactly blow my mind with its products, I do see that the company has evolved and is now ready to be contemporary and even think about the future in terms of technology and design. The previous platform was sadly outdated and I couldn’t understand why the company and platform couldn’t have evolved sooner! I guess this is the time! However, a lot of work and innovation will be required from Blackberry if they want to regain their position as innovators.