Opinion » Cybernaut

BB's demise overstated



It's one thing to lose market share to another legitimately better product, another to give it away by refusing to compete. You could argue that BlackBerry — formerly Research In Motion — did both of these things, first losing ground to surging iPhone and Android smart phones, and then refusing to compete by taking forever to catch up to the status quo in smart phones.

That said, I think a lot of reporters and pundits have been a little too hard on BlackBerry and are sticking to their narrative of a company swirling down the drain, despite the fact that their new headsets and operating system, released last week, are actually pretty great. Most reviewers gave BlackBerry credit for keeping up with the times, then slammed the company for not somehow going an extra step to leapfrog the competition — something I'd probably argue that they did in quite a few ways.

Here's why those critics shouldn't matter: BlackBerry already has a sizeable built-in audience. Their handling of multiple email accounts, notifications and chat (with video and voice options) is the best available, and the fact you can create and edit Microsoft Office documents doesn't hurt either. For that reason, and the fact that it's the most secure phone platform out there, corporations and government continued to use BlackBerry even if the phones themselves lagged the competition — as did all the power users that needed or preferred typing on a physical keyboard to typing on-screen.

Lately BlackBerry users haven't been happy because they could see what other phone companies were doing and felt left behind. Fair enough. But the two new phones announced by BlackBerry last week — the full-screen Z10 and the full keyboard Q10, will do a lot to alleviate those concerns, along with the new BB10 operating system and BlackBerry World store that launched with 70,000 apps — including some great games and all the major productivity apps that people need. You can also purchase music and video, which puts it on par with other smart phones for multimedia as well.

The front and back cameras have also been upgraded, battery life is supposed to be pretty good and the form factor for both these devices is incredible, from the grippy coating on the back to the buttonless full-screen design of the Z10 that uses gestures to do almost everything including turn it on and off. The screens boast more pixels per inch than the iPhone if the idea of retina displays excites you, and even the square Q10 screen has an incredible resolution of 720 by 720.

Here are some of the things reviewers were whining about:

• Apple and Android have 10 times more apps. Wah! Considering that an average person will probably have 40 to 60 apps on their phone, and a lot of those are standard (Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds) what's the big deal? It's like buying a Lamborghini when you live in downtown Vancouver and never go anywhere; theoretically you could go 300km/h, but most of the time you're creeping along at 40. BlackBerry has also done a lot to lure app developers into the fold, including guaranteeing sales for approved apps, while supporting open standards that developers like to work in.