Berry’s new avatar

A robust operating system and two great new smartphones, BlackBerry’s comeback is good news for its fans
Roopinder Singh

Research in Motion (RIM) dominated the communication world for over a decade. After that it vanished from the cool charts as Apple and Samsung became the top smartphone makers in the world.

The BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones are far better than anything seen from the BB stables.

The BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones are far better than anything seen from the BB stables.

The Waterloo, Canada-based smartphone maker, seemed to have abandoned its army of eight crore users and left them ill-equipped to face an increasingly competitive world.

On the other hand, the forces of Apple and Samsung were deploying increasingly sophisticated weapons to conquer the hearts and purses of crores of new converts. There were even desertions from the ranks of the elite Crackberry units, comprising BlackBerry addicts.

Now, the Crackberrys have a chance. A new fix will give them a fighting chance in the smartphone wars. Henceforth, they will battle with the Force of 10. The new operating system, BlackBerry 10 is a robust and reliable platform that has won praise for being smooth and responsive. It has some bugs, but overall, it is being hailed as a something that takes the best from the BlackBerry ecosystem and adds to the experience.

New hardware adds to the experience. The BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones are far better than anything seen from the BlackBerry stables. With 1.5 Ghz dual core processors, they compete with the best (see table).

As for the apps, they have a line-up of 70,000 to start with. We must remember, however, that BlackBerry is aimed primarily at the corporate market. Hence, security is paramount; something that BlackBerry still excels at. It has a great run for a decade during which it introduced many new devices and many innovations (see the top of the page), even as it held on to its core strength providing security.

A BlackBerry is largely used for the same kind of things it was originally introduced in for in 1996 — a personal digital assistant with an address book, calendar and to-do list capabilities. The camera and video functions add to its value, as do various other features and apps. But primarily, it is its ability to reliably send and receive e-mails wherever mobile network service coverage is present, or through Wi-Fi connectivity is what most people expect of it.

Little wonder, even as BlackBerry took a beating in the US market, it continued to do quite well in the developing nations. With the new devices, BlackBerry is trying to claw its way back into the all-important US market. However, it has to compete with both Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy line-up, which have captured the top end of the market.

Both these phone makers are also aggressively courting the corporate sector, thus encroaching on what used to be BlackBerry’s bulwark.

The new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 phones have to come to terms with the fact that customers today are far more demanding.

Apple found out how much maps matter to customers after its maps failed to make the mark. Nokia has invested much in maps. The new BlackBerry models have also been found wanting by some critics. However, the 8 megapixel camera has come in for praise, and it has some great software features.

All in all, the company from Waterloo is back in the fray, under a new general, with new, more powerful weapons. It has now blown the trumpet to marshal its forces as it faces a battle that it simply can’t afford to loose.

This article was published in The Tribune on February 9, 2013

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