Is change turning out to be a bad thing for BlackBerry?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Talking about BlackBerry at this point in time seems a bit bittersweet for me. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was all gung-ho on the BlackBerry bandwagon, mostly because I found the physical keypad to be a lot easier to use than the laggy Android keyboard, and I didn’t have the opportunity to use the almighty iPhone at the time. It’s hard to think that this was only a few short years ago; I would have never guessed then that BlackBerry would be where it is - or more appropriately, where it isn’t - right now. I can’t lie, I feel a little sorry for how things have turned out for them.
I knew things were starting to get sour for BlackBerry when Android started to rapidly pick up. Android didn’t go without its kinks in the beginning. When I first started using Android, I distinctly remember being extremely frustrated with its performance. The ever-growing app selection was what kept me around, but eventually I had one too many force closes and decided to return to BlackBerry. While the return to BlackBerry might have made things a little less frustrating on the force closing forefront, I soon realized that the severe lack of appropriate apps (for me, anyway) really was kind of a downer in the end. Eventually, I re-ditched BlackBerry to rejoin the ranks of Android, and I never turned back. It would be a long time before I took a serious interest in BlackBerry again, but eventually the announcement for BlackBerry 10 did it for me.
I was pretty excited for BlackBerry 10, and the BlackBerry team did a pretty decent job of hyping it up. They made it seem like apps and design were the two number one priorities, and their hardware didn’t look too shabby either. It seemed like BlackBerry was really starting to shape up, and I was looking forward to this resurfacing of one of my favorite manufacturers again. Alas, all that hype didn’t really account for much. BlackBerry 10 was still lacking a lot of bells and whistles and specs to help it compete against Android and iOS at that point, and it didn’t help that some 40,000 applications were all made by the same person. On the plus side, at least they still had one model that kept that ever important QWERTY keyboard, so there was that.
BlackBerry 10 doesn’t get much attention these days. Most recently we’ve seen leaks of images and videos for BlackBerry’s Passport phone, which looks like a typical traditional BlackBerry device that’s been run over by a rolling pin followed by a steamroller. The phone is absolutely massive in the most bizarre way possible, yet is still able to maintain that “BlackBerry” look... sort of. Personally, at first glance I feel like the Passport looks nothing short of uncomfortable to use. The screen is huge, and while a physical keyboard is still present it is very much squished to oblivion down towards the bottom of the screen. It also feels like the Passport is possibly BlackBerry’s final nail in the coffin.
For a long time I’ve had this thought that BlackBerry has needed to change in order to succeed. This thought might still be valid, but BlackBerry has either done these changes too late, or they’re doing the changes all wrong; maybe a combination of both. I think the Q10 was a perfect example of how BlackBerry 10 can still work with the traditional BlackBerry design. The Passport, on the other hand, just doesn’t seem like an appealing device to use. I think the changes BlackBerry made to this device seems like it will end up hurting the company more than helping it.
Still, I think I’ll always have a little bit of hope reserved for BlackBerry, because it’s not over ‘til it’s over... right guys?