If you’ve even so much as typed into a search engine or viewed your social media feeds once today, you’ll have probably already seen the huge news revealed from Research In Motion (RIM) this morning. The company has vowed with its newest BlackBerry 10 to have completely revolutionized mobile communications and computing, as well as the brand itself – now named BlackBerry – to emanate and reflect a one brand, one promise attitude they described during the unveiling.
The new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 were officially revealed to the public this morning by CEO Thorsten Heins, along with a number of other important details on the company’s latest direction, their new device, new company brand and the direction they’d like to move into the future with all of these announcements.
The new phones feature some very interesting capabilities, such as a peek feature, which allows users to “peek” at their hub or other apps that make it possible to watch a video in real time, and while watching, just pull it over to one side of the screen, where your other content will then peek through for view, such as e-mail.
Also in the hub, users can engage and interact with social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn without having to actually leave the hub or log in to these channels.
With an easy-to-use, built-in photo editor, there’s also no need to go to any outside applications, which is pretty impressive. And there is even a feature called Story Maker that allows users to pull everything together to tell a beautiful story. You go in, choose your media (i.e. pictures, videos, music), as well as add titles and credits for true personalization, and upon clicking “done,” it immediately brings it all together.
The phones will also launch with a complete collection of major and independent music, TV shows and movies, offering users an abundance of media to choose from.
BlackBerry 10 comes fully packed with over 70,000 applications, including Skype, Amazon Kindle, What’s App, SAP and Angry Birds. BlackBerry promised greatness, and now it’s delivering on that promise.
Speaking of music, a pleasant surprise was when Alisha Keys was revealed as BlackBerry’s new Creative Director. “I’m fascinated by technology, and I’ve always wanted to work directly with a technology company,” she explained, saying she wanted an opportunity to grow professionally, personally and creatively, for which she thinks BlackBerry will be perfect.
She will be working directly with the app developers, creators, and others in the entertainment industry to inspire projects as well as other “super women” who love BlackBerry.
But what are other key industry players saying about this new release and its promise? This morning, former Apple CEO John Sculley said during a breaking news piece on CNBC that he thinks this could be “a really exciting turnaround story,” but it all depends what the “road map is ahead.”
He added that he thinks it looks very well thought out and that the show did an excellent job highlighting and emphasizing the new BlackBerry 10’s features.
Bottom line: it’s a new hardware, a new operating system, and a completely new BlackBerry. “We established a new way of working with our partners,” Heins said during the revealing. “We’ve also been working more strategically and more openly than ever before.”
Sculley agreed that this latest move looks like it can be a very promising and great product for the enterprise market. “The real opportunity, though, is – Can they change the company enough to be able to turn it into a sustainable business? That’s what I’ve been really thinking about,” Sculley said.
The BlackBerry 10 and execs from the company are also attending this week’s ITEXPO Miami at the Miami Convention Center where they will be offering a chance for attendees to get a firsthand look at their newest devices.
Not only is BlackBerry 10 making a debut at ITEXPO Miami, but John Sculley, former president of Pepsi and former CEO at Apple, is also in attendance at the event, and will be delivering a special keynote address at 4PM during StartupCamp7.
Sculley will be addressing the audience on Next-Generation ideas and business models.
StartupCamp is collocated with ITEXPO and offers insight and buzz generation for early stage startups, new business opportunities for investors, and allows the audience to participate in seeing what new products and services they can take advantage of.
So what does Sculley think needs to happen to get BlackBerry to the finish line?
- Migrate away from the U.S. – “They’ve lost so much market share in the U.S., I wouldn’t put a lot of priority in the U.S.” Sculley cautions.
- Offer Free Software – I think they need to think about giving away…for free the new BlackBerry 10 software to…large smartphone manufacturers in Asia.” Sculley believes this could dramatically increase its install base.
- Focus on the Enterprise – Sculley adds that BlackBerry should specifically try and reinvent themselves as an enterprise software business. This would give them “a real differentiation verses everybody else, including Microsoft.”
Ovum analyst Adam Leach also added to this insight with his initial reaction:
“The Blackberry 10 platform offers a differentiated user experience in today’s crowded and homogenous smartphone market. The Blackberry Z10 and Q10 will stand out from the Android masses and look distinct from Apple’s iPhone. The user experience of Blackberry 10 introduces some nice new features but importantly builds on Blackberry’s UI heritage and therefore will certainly appeal to existing Blackberry users. However, the challenge for the company will be to attract new users and those that have already moved to alternative smartphones.”
Leach also noted that although “achieving 70,000 applications at the launch of a new platform is a good start,” that “despite a well-designed BlackBerry 10 platform…the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market.”
Lastly, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, Malik Saadi, commented:
“With the superior messaging experience that the BlackBerry Z10 offers, and its highly integrated enterprise features, BlackBerry could well win back the hearts of business users, particularly in Europe and North America. In emerging markets, the situation is different as the majority of BlackBerry users tend to opt for affordable devices with an average selling price around US$200. Given the high-end specifications of BlackBerry Z10, it is highly unlikely that the typical Blackberry users in these regions will be able to afford it. Instead, RIM will attempt to win new premium subscribers in these regions, a market segment currently dominated by Apple and Samsung…Without a doubt, the Blackberry Z10 needs to seduce business users and advanced consumers, as this audience is often more concerned about whether the device enables high productivity and gives scope for creativity and less concerned about price.”
BlackBerry Z10 is available February 10, and tomorrow in the U.K., and may turn out to be a shining example of the perfect balance between a work phone and play phone.
Edited by Braden Becker