Written Exclusively for Berryfication.com by Greg Wesson [@lombaki]
I’m ready for BB10, but I just bought myself a Bold 9900. I said I was going to hold out for BB10 and skip BB7. Having been off contract since the beginning of 2010, I bought my 9780 outright and wanted to get 2 full years out of it. That would have happened in November and would have made a nice transition. I think I got Jonesed. Maybe Berried.
I’m sure a lot of Berry faithful are looking forward to BB10. We kind of feel like we’ve paid our dues using the decade old Java-based BBOS and deserve the upcoming Berry revolution that is founded on the upcoming QNX OS. We have seen mock up devices, the leaked marketing pics that don’t necessarily represent the actual OS, and we will get a look at the BB10 Dev Alpha prototype soon enough. All of those things build hype and hope for the resurrection of RIM and the restoration of BlackBerry to the status of “cool.” Quite frankly, I don’t care if my device is “cool”; I care if it works for me. Others, however, want Berrys to return to their glory days and they have bet the farm, perhaps literally if they are investing in the stock, on BlackBerry10, the POSIX-based OS that QNX is developing for BlackBerry smartphones to be released late in the year. What do we have to base our hopes on though? The PlayBook OS? Some tweets from RIM employees about how awesome the OS is? The moded OS we will see in a few weeks at BlackBerry World? Even that isn’t going to be BB10; they told us that. So what are we setting our hopes on? And are we setting them too high?
Think about the TAT video showing off the Media app they had developed. There is a lot of hope there that RIM and BlackBerry CAN pull of an amazing UI, killer features, and make huge strides in the USA and other first world markets where iOS and Android have taken over. I may be alone here, but I find iOS boring and Android overly complicated. I feel like there is a lot of room for RIM to gain a second wind with BlackBerry, QNX, and TAT coupled with the other purchases made in the last few years (going back to Torch Mobile).
The question I keep asking myself is this: Can RIM live up to the hype, no matter what they drop on us? I mean, we’re holding our breath at this point and are probably willing to pass out waiting. We NEED BB10 to blow us away and that’s a two-fold statement.
Half of the experience will be the hardware. Quad-core has hit the phone market. It’s not really necessary, but it makes a great marketing tool. I mean, I see what my dual-core PlayBook does speed-wise and I feel it’s just fine. What people don’t seem to realize is that how well the OS works isn’t only based on the speed of the hardware; it’s also how the hardware uses the OS. If the processor(s) can fly through the processes, then there’s no need for extra cores except for bragging. I’d rather do more with less and save money and battery life in the meantime. That said, I still think the new hardware will sport quad-core tech, but that’s fully speculation. If it doesn’t, that’s going to be an easy mark against RIM in the media.
The second part of the experience is UI. TAT with Cascades and the power of QNX needs to bring a fresh OS with features we haven’t even speculated on. It needs to be easy to use and I feel it has a solid start in PlayBook OS. I’ve had no problem being a beta tester with the PlayBook, honestly. One thing I would like to see is the ability to move around open apps. Say I have 5 apps open from right to left: Browser, Game, DocsToGo, Weather, and ScoreMobile, but now it’s the end of the game and I want to jump from Browser to ScoreMobile quickly and I’d like to keep the others open. Currently, I’d have to close the middle apps and then reopen them to move ScoreMobile. I’d rather be able to grab it and slide it over next to the Browser while leaving the others open in the meantime. Just a thought. The OS needs greater integration as well. Those types of thoughts can go on and on about what we’d like out of the new system and that’s where I get concerned that we’re simply hoping for too much.
What BlackBerry does have going for it and something they can really capitalize on is Bridge. It seems that RIM doesn’t want to discuss Bridge, specifically browsing, perhaps due to the fact that carriers can’t charge for the data which upsets them. The ability for a tablet and its partner phone to work together is genius and I’d love to know who created that idea. It’s my favorite feature of the current OSes and I can’t wait to see how it improves with BB10…oh wait. That’s more hope I‘m placing in BB10, which could lead to more disappointment and that’s why I’m afraid.
Beyond native OS and hardware, we know there’s an app gap. We know it’s there and the belief is that it has to be filled. That’s not an overly hyped concept. If RIM wants to play with today’s big boys, they have to launch with what today are considered basic apps and a consolidated media portal. Tack on one more important aspect. RIM needs to have a way to make sure that users won’t lose everything they have invested in whichever eco-system they’ve been using. For example, if someone has been on an iPhone for two years or more, they probably have an extensive collection of music, movies, books, etc, in iTunes. If moving to a BB10 device means buying all of that again, forget it. The consumer is going to need proof that all of their honestly purchased goods are going to continue to be viable on the new BB with little work.
My big issue, though, is if the media gets super hyped on BB10 with BlackBerry World Conference 2012 and the BB10 Dev Alpha prototypes or with rumors. Over-hyping BB10 will lead to a chance of auto-fail and not because of anything RIM will have done or not done, but only because of the unreasonable demands and expectations created from nothing more than hope. I’m excited for BB10, I am. I am ready for BlackBerry to take a chunk out of the mobile computing space. I’m concerned that all of BlackBerry’s eggs are in one basket and if that basket doesn’t get delivered just as it was imagined by the consumer, then BB10 will be bashed in the media and there will be no Back in BlackBerry. Now is the time for RIM to under-promise and heavily over-deliver followed with a marketing campaign the likes of which RIM has never produced.
RIM is in a tough place. They need to be able to convince the buyer that BB10 is worth the money. In a free market society, there’s a basic way to do it. Make your product or service better than the competition and offer it for less. A hot dog at Costco has cost me $1.50 with a soda for more than a decade. Yes, I’ve gone to Costco just for the hot dog. It’s as good as or better than the other guys’ and it’s less expensive.
I’d love to say, RIM, don’t let me down, but a majority of that statement isn’t based on RIM and what they do, it’s based on my hopes and expectations of RIM. It’s based on what I think needs to happen and that’s going to be true of the media. They’re going to compare BB10 to everything else out there. They may well compare it to technology that hasn’t even been released yet. It often seems BlackBerry has no way to win.
The truth of the matter is, BB10 will have to give something no one has yet offered in a super easy-to-use manner, ala Siri. For many consumers, Siri was a new concept and was super easy to use. Granted, it hasn’t been all roses for Apple with Siri, but you get the idea. I think Bridge is RIM’s key. The interaction of tablet and phone is untapped. iPads and iPhones are currently separate devices. The Asus PadFone is the next closest thing, but that’s more physically connected rather than working together. Bridge could be BlackBerry’s saving grace and key to the success of BB10 devices, including future PlayBook sales.
Do I love my current BlackBerry set up of a 9780 and PlayBook? Without a doubt. Do I have hope for BlackBerry and BB10? Absolutely. Is it possible that I and millions of consumers via media outlets will have over built our expectations only to be disappointed when BB10 hits the market? Sure. But if that happens, don’t blame RIM. You’ll be the one who built up the expectations.