RIM/BlackBerry: Too little, too late?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: October 4, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the name ‘BlackBerry’ and actually considered purchasing a phone from them. BlackBerrys had their heyday some years back - a time where if you didn’t have a BlackBerry, you weren’t cool. But we must remember, there was also a time where if your phone was bigger than your hand, you also weren’t cool. Now we’ve got phones the size of our heads. RIM  has been using the same basic uniform factor for pretty much every BlackBerry they’ve ever made, with slight variations strewn in to the mix. Ultimately, they’ve fallen behind in the smart phone race and they realize that it’s time to move it or lose it, so the question remains: Will BlackBerry 10 be the saving grace that RIM needs to survive?

From what I’m seeing so far, BlackBerry 10 doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the competition of the big dogs like iOS and Android. The interface seems more user friendly, but the design leaves much to be desired in most areas. It doesn’t look like there has been a huge change to the BlackBerry App World, which has always had a small selection to choose from in my opinion. I was hoping to see some improvement there as I think an app store is one of the most important aspects of any smart phone. The software upgrade does have some interesting features to redeem itself, such as “BlackBerry Hub”, which is a way to view all your time-sensitive material (Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, text messages, etc.) in one convenient place. It will also feature “BlackBerry Peek”, which lets you view your hubs with just the swipe of a finger to see what missed messages you have without having to exit whatever application you’re already in.

When it comes down to look and feel, I do like that I can say that BlackBerry 10 looks unique. I don’t particularly like the way it’s designed, but I don’t think we’ll see any patents coming from other big wig companies (not naming any names). The unlock screen is different than your run-of-the-mill ‘slide to unlock’ prompts. It’s kind of like a sunburst that you move upwards, which looks pretty sleek. While watching the demo videos, the test device seemed to run smoothly. Most applications and screens would load instantly, but occasionally you’d see a hiccup here and there. The software is still in development, though, so I’m sure those bugs will be fixed in time.

BlackBerry 10 doesn’t really have any features that give me that eye-popping ‘wow’ feeling that I get when I hear about some crazy features that phones have today. I was hoping to get a bite of something zestier. A revolutionary camera, a bigger market (I can’t stress that enough); maybe some eye candy for the design. Something, anything, to make me say “Wow, that looks really cool. I want to go out and buy that BlackBerry right now.” But that’s not happening here. For some reason, some tweaks to BBM (people still use that?) and a glorified notification center isn’t what I had in mind. I will definitely be giving BlackBerry 10 another go once it’s completely finished, but until then, I remain vaguely dismayed.

RIM hasn’t specified exactly when we will see new BlackBerry OS hitting the market, but we do know it will arrive sometime “in the first part of the first quarter of 2013”. Hopefully when it is released, they have some surprises in store for us. I definitely see improvement within the software, and it is a step in the right direction. However, I don’t feel that a step is what BlackBerry needs to stay in the game – they need something bigger, like a leap. I’m kind of feeling that it’s too late for RIM to make any real comeback, but I suppose you just never know.

Let me know how you feel about BlackBerry 10 (or BlackBerry in general) in the comments!