BlackBerry 10: Too Little, Too Late?

Research in Motion (RIM) is essentially betting its entire company on the success of Blackberry 10. But, as it continues to make a number of small announcements in hopes of generating excitement before the New York City launch later today, are there enough BlackBerry fans remaining to embrace a new kind of smartphone with innovative new software and apps from a company that has fallen behind the competition, or even the status quo? Is it too little, too late?

Many BlackBerry users are stuck with the device because it is issued by their employer (many of which relied on BlackBerry due to mobile security issues with other platforms), which has led to a trend of people carrying two devices: a work phone and a personal phone.

Millions of users were long-time BlackBerry users and diehard fans of the platform and its QWERTY keyboard, but after months and then years went by without upgrades to its operating system or new devices, some felt they had no choice but to make the switch to other, non-RIM devices.

BlackBerry 10 is expected to continue to cater to its core business customer – the corporate professional. BlackBerry has always been synonymous with work productivity and the recent release of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 preserves much of the management control offered in RIM’s now-retired Mobile Fusion platform.

In addition to providing productivity, BlackBerry has added another benefit of an easy-to-use console and ability to support company-issued devices as well as employees’ personal smartphones. But, retaining existing customers is not enough and RIM will have to entice back previous BlackBerry users who have moved on to other platforms.

Next week, RIM is expected to introduce two devices – one joining the mainstream with a touch screen display and another keeping the original QWERTY keyboard. Both devices are rumoured to include some flashier features with a new corporate app storefront, hub for centralized messages, a voice assistant and BlackBerry balance (a way to manage corporate data on a device without interfering with the user’s personal content).

However, in a world where agility and speed to market are essential, has BlackBerry demonstrated it is a player who can’t keep up, let alone think ahead? Will the masses that jumped ship be willing to give BlackBerry another chance? Plus now we are hearing rumours about the possibility of Lenovo buying RIM, what is next? We think it will be a close call and only time will tell. All we know is that BlackBerry 10 will have to be pretty impressive to move the needle.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.