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BlackBerry 10: Pretty looks, but is that enough?

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Leaked images of Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry 10 software show much similarity to the user interface of Apple iOS(s aapl) and Google Android(s goog). Crackberry shares some of the screenshots and, if legitimate, indicate that BlackBerry(s rimm) is finally moving towards a more touch-friendly platform that supports home-screen widgets.

In light of fading market share for BlackBerry devices, the updated platform is a rare positive sign for RIM. The company simply hasn’t been able to mount a challenge to the growing number of consumers — and enterprises, for that matter — adopting iOS and Android smartphones.

A challenge will still remain, however, depending on what RIM brings to handsets with its new software, expected in the second half of 2010 2012. Gaining user interface parity with competitors is just one part of the solution. The other is the ecosystem, where RIM is still far behind. Even Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, which is still trying to build momentum and sales, now has more applications than BlackBerry’s App World, according to Distimo.

The number of applications shouldn’t be the sole measuring stick, of course; the quality of apps and the number of top-tier titles are very much part of the equation. So too are the number of media offerings, such as video content, e-books and music. RIM is still struggling this year based on my experiences browsing App World as well as from discussions with developers. With a larger target audience, programmers are focusing on iOS and Android. A pretty new user interface that’s been around on other devices for the past four to five years isn’t likely to change that.

At this point, unless RIM can offer some key differentiating features that people want, the new BlackBerry 10 is more likely to keep current BlackBerry owners on the platform and not attract many new customers. The time for a modern user interface, and the sales it would have brought, has come and gone.

Image credit: CrackBerry

15 Responses to “BlackBerry 10: Pretty looks, but is that enough?”

  1. Brian Jozwick

    @ Roger Smith….I couldn’t have said it better myself Roger! The Media is so completely biased towards any kind of a RIM comeback it just makes you wonder just WHO (not IF) is paying them to write this drivel.

  2. Roger Smith

    “The time for a modern user interface, and the sales it would have brought, has come and gone.”

    Of course it did. When did that happen just now, when you realized RIM might have actually caught up with competing platform UIs and you won’t be able to use that for criticism? Now you’ll focus on how they’re behind on apps, going as far as making a graph showing WP7 is ahead of App World the central image in your article instead of the BB10 UI that’s purportedly its subject.

    If you want to make it about apps now, why don’t you tell us what RIM’s planning and doing to attract developers? After that, what negative thing will all these American tech blogs focus on next anytime they right an article about RIM? Criticism’s good, barely concealed contempt and bias isn’t.

  3. At last, RIM is moving in right direction. On BB10 it does look like Android & Windows Phone but its not a bad thing. New interface and overall design brings some fresh blood in BlackBerry device. If like PlayBook OS 2.0, BB10 comes with Android player then it will be great for app ecosystem. I just hope RIM is working on a blackberry 10 device other than BlackBerry London ( and most important a device with BlackBerry’s popular qwerty keypad.

    • As a long term BB user, I am happy that RIM is making some changes– although I continue to love the current OS, I would love more apps on my BB. I cannot let go of the better push email and security features of my BlackBerry. Connectivity is also more reliable and consistent with a BlackBerry than an iPhone.

  4. Kathy Smith

    I think Blackberry is doing just fine keeping up with the other phone makers. I’d rather own a Blackberry than any of them. Their security is great as is their problem solving

    • While I welcome this refreshed OS and the new features it brings, I am quite happy with my current BlackBerry handset. It has the apps I need, and it just works. It allows me to carry the smallest data bucket. It has exceptionally good battery life. Snappy UI. And, it just works. Never had to do a “factory data reset”. If you’ve had an Android device, you know what I mean…

  5. Personally think RIM should be congratulated on developing a brand new OS based on QNX that looks to have many of the features missing from previous other platform OS. As a software developer open source is a headache, look at how long it has taken HTC to refresh Sense for ICS due to the ever splitting codebase that Samsung, HTC, Sony are using. Let’s also not forget the major part of the criticism is app numbers. Playbook OS2 brings the Android player making much of Android Marketplace available. Best of Proprietary and Open Source….possibly?

  6. Travis Henning

    Couple questions around apps. Will the developers need to re-write the apps to work in BB10 or will a simple recompile be sufficient? Or will legacy apps work fine in the new OS? If it requires a re-write, will the developers go through the effort if they don’t see market share improve?

    I think your last paragraph summarizes the difficulty RIM faces. Getting to the same feature set where Android, iOS and Windows Phone are right now won’t do much to gain new users by the end of 2012 and first part of 2013. The competition will have also improved. But it may stem the tide of current BB users leaving. And that could be a significant win, giving the company some more time.