It’s been a bumpy ride for BlackBerry for the past few years now. A steady decline in demand for the classic BlackBerry OS sparked the need for a revamp, which is what eventually created modern day BlackBerry 10. With BlackBerry 10 came BlackBerry’s first real attempt at playing catch up with the rest of the smartphone world as the company tried to combine business and personal into one appealing line, but found that such a task was much easier said than done. BlackBerry has yet to give up all hope at redemption in the mobile industry, and while 2013 and 2014 haven’t exactly been kind to BlackBerry, all hope is not lost.
BlackBerry has recently started gaining some popularity ground with the BlackBerry Passport, a somewhat classic-looking BlackBerry device with a modern twist: you have the traditional physical QWERTY keyboard, but the keyboard also responds to touch. The keyboard is the best of both worlds. The Passport is also quite a powerful device spec-wise, and since BlackBerry 10.3 also brought along the Amazon Appstore, there’s a lot more to choose from app-wise these days then when BlackBerry 10 was first introduced.
However, while the Passport might be a great potential device for people who still have an interest in physical QWERTY keyboards (a rarity with today’s smartphones), BlackBerry has yet to come out with any 2014 successors to the slab-style, all touchscreen device. In 2013 we were introduced to the Z10 and the larger, phablet-sized Z30. This year, we haven’t seen anything of the sort, and we likely won’t see anything like it until next year according to recent rumors.
A vague report over at N4BB suggests that BlackBerry is working on a high end all-touch device set to release sometime in 2015; however, the report really is that vague. There’s no real indication that BlackBerry is, in fact, working on any such device. We were granted a code name though: ‘Rio’.
I’ve bounced back and forth on whether I thought BlackBerry would or wouldn’t succeed. At first I had high hopes for BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10, but after several months (which eventually turned into over a year) of waiting for a broader app ecosystem I couldn’t be sure whether BlackBerry would ever be able to reclaim its former glory. With the recent release of the Passport gaining traction with more than just the immediate BlackBerry community, I’m starting to see a glimmer of hope again.
But I do think that BlackBerry needs to offer some sort of modern all-touch phone in order to keep progressing forward. I feel that adding an all-touch device to their line-up is just as important as keeping the traditional physical QWERTY phones. BlackBerry needs to do more than just keep their current user base; they need to grow, and in order to appeal to the younger generation of smartphone users they’re going to need to think more modernly.
You need two things to appeal to the modern generation of smartphone users: mainstream apps and a nice slab design. Most don’t want the physical keyboard - that’s before their time. They want something that looks like what everybody else is using. Hopefully the ‘Rio’ is, in fact, a real thing, because the idea of an all-touch device combined with the changes that were brought with the 10.3 update could potentially work out very well for BlackBerry.
I understand that BlackBerry’s main purpose is to appeal to business users for the time being, but in order to thrive I think it’s important for BlackBerry to realize that they’re going to have to extend their reach to the younger generation in order to show that BlackBerry devices can serve well as business and personal phones. This younger generation wants to play now, but as they get older and start growing up they’ll be able to take advantage of BlackBerry’s secure business services.
With the Amazon Appstore in place, BlackBerry is sort of getting the hang of things. Here’s hoping that the ‘Rio’ is a real phone in the works - I think BlackBerry 10 could really use it.