Why is BlackBerry still holding on to BlackBerry 7?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
I try my best not to hate on BlackBerry too much, but I know I do. I can't help it lately. BlackBerry is that person you became great friends with in middle school, and they were really awesome at the time. They had all the right clothes, they had a great sense of humor and they smelled fantastic! But as you get older and start to change and grow, BlackBerry doesn't. The clothes were still okay; it might have been last year's style, but it's not that big of a deal. But their personality never matured and let's face it, you can only take smelling so much Axe before you start to lose consciousness. BlackBerry was that friend that you desperately wanted to give a reality check to, but deep down you didn't really want them to change all that much. But BlackBerry needed to make some drastic changes in order to be accepted again, because by the time BlackBerry 7 rolled out they were pretty much living in the shadows of Android and iOS.
I was actually really excited for BlackBerry 7 when I first heard about it. BlackBerry 7 would be what brought the feature I had longed to see come from BlackBerry for a couple of years, and that was a BlackBerry with a signature QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen. Even though I had already switched to Android for about a year and a half at the point that BlackBerry 7 was released, I was still excited for the day that I would be able to check out what this BlackBerry dream device would be like. I mean, even now I can admit that the form factor of a QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen on a candy bar style phone is still one of my favorites. I am admittedly a pretty big fan of the Q10's design, but I wouldn't have been as excited about it if it didn't feature BlackBerry's new BlackBerry 10. But when it came to BlackBerry 7, the UI was almost identical to previous BlackBerry versions and all of the "new" features had already been done before. BlackBerry 7 was unamusing and nothing new. I'm convinced that, even if it isn't doing so well, BlackBerry 10 has at least given BlackBerry some new hope for real change.
Now we get news of BlackBerry releasing another BlackBerry device later this year, the BlackBerry 9720. By name and by specs, there is nothing abnormal about the device. It's a low-end BlackBerry device, which I have stated before is something I think BlackBerry needs to embrace at this point in time as they try to get back on their feet; BlackBerry needs all it can get, which means getting a phone at the low, mid and high-end spec levels seems like something they would want to do. The 9720 is on the very low end of things with 2.8-inch 480x360 touchscreen, 806MHz Tavor MG1 processor, and most notably 512MB of RAM. Although the device can't get LTE speeds, it can receive HSPA+. The kicker on this device is that it will launch running BlackBerry 7.
It seems that the speculation around BlackBerry's decision for this device is to make sure that entry-level customers don't get shafted when it comes to having BlackBerry as an option when it comes to purchasing a smartphone. That part makes sense, but what doesn't make sense to me is that BlackBerry 10 doesn't seem so advanced that they can't possibly find a way to make a cheap, entry-level device with it. I get that the BlackBerry Q5 was supposed to be the "cheap" BlackBerry 10 device, but really it's just the BlackBerry Q10 in a cheaper housing design - surely they could have gone with something a little less in order to really cater to the entry-level market?
Or maybe not. I'll admit, I'm baffled as to why BlackBerry would want to keep holding on to BlackBerry 7; clearly BB7 wasn't able to keep people from migrating to more popular platforms. I would think that BlackBerry would want to put all of their focus on BlackBerry 10, being that it's a real refreshed version of BlackBerry with more features, but it still desperately needs attention. However, I suppose that the slow reception of the new platform could be keeping the company from gaining back some of those 3 million subscribers they recently lost as fast as they would like. Maybe BlackBerry 7 is the only answer for a truly low-end device, but really, I have to wonder why BlackBerry didn't just focus on getting a truly low-end BlackBerry 10 device out instead. It seems like they're backpeddling a little bit, and I'm not sure it's going to help them a whole lot in the end.
Readers, what are your thoughts on BlackBerry coming out with a new BlackBerry 7 device? Do you think it's a good move, or would you have rather seen them put that focus on BlackBerry 10? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!