Research In Motion's BlackBerry 6 operating system software will be available soon. The software is arguably the best update RIM has made to its smartphone OS in a long time. It includes a better home screen, more efficient menus and a healthy selection of features that do a fine job of matching just about any other solution on the market.
That said, the new software with its eventual release with new BlackBerry models has been ignored by the majority of consumers as Apple's iPhone continues to capture headlines and the allure of customers.
But that doesn't mean that BlackBerry 6 should be ignored by Apple, or that it isn't capable of achieving success in the mobile marketplace. Based on the success RIM's BlackBerry has enjoyed to this point, and how well the software seems positioned in the marketplace, Apple might want to start worrying about BlackBerry 6 and the immense potential it brings to the market. Here's why:
1. RIM is finally ready to play
For a while, RIM didn't seem all that prepared to take on Apple and Google in the mobile market. The company's BlackBerry devices looked obsolete, and its software worked poorly when compared to iOS. But with BlackBerry 6, all that has changed. The software includes several new features, including social and multimedia integration, that make it a far more viable alternative to anything Apple offers. And given the size of its installed base, that could be a major issue for Apple as it attempts to steal BlackBerry owners away from RIM.
2. It's what the enterprise has waited for
The enterprise has been the main benefactor of RIM's BlackBerry for years. Companies that have wanted more functionality and productivity have opted for BlackBerry devices over anything else. But in recent years, those companies realized that BlackBerry OS is becoming obsolete. And they have started looking elsewhere for their mobile needs. With BlackBerry 6, RIM can finally bring those customers back. The software includes the same level of functionality for enterprise users, but adds some streamlined menus and other features to make it more usable. That alone should make enterprise users happy.
3. Familiar-to a point
The best aspect of BlackBerry OS throughout the years is that it has remained familiar. Similar to Windows, which has kept its basic functionality throughout the years, RIM's BlackBerry OS resembles the same look and feel that customers have been working with all these years. BlackBerry 6 will follow that pattern with the same gridlike arrangement and a familiar menu design. But it will also move forward with fresh ideas, thanks to some new graphics built into the software that most users won't be familiar with at first. There won't be drastic differences, but they will be noticeable. And for the most part, they will only help users get more out of the software.
4. Ease of use is now where it should be
A major issue with BlackBerry OS prior to the announcement of the new version of the software was the general lack of usability when compared with the competition. On iOS, for example, users need only tap around the screen to open the applications and services they want. In BlackBerry OS, it requires moving around the screen with the help of a trackpad, clicking on items and sifting through menus to find the right functions. Luckily, RIM has streamlined that to make the operating system more usable than ever. That should make BlackBerry 6 a far more capable competitor to anything Apple offers for the foreseeable future.