Research in Motion's rather low-key announcement of its OS7 devices belied the importance of the new BlackBerry devices to RIM's recovery. The new devices include an all-touch-screen version of the Torch, a touch-screen version of the Torch with a slide-out keyboard and a new, super-thin version of the Bold. At least three major carriers in the United States will sell these new devices in the coming weeks.
The question that most people will have is whether these BlackBerry devices are good enough to knock the iPhone and the Android universe out of their respective leadership positions. The answer is, probably not.
But they may be good enough to stem the current slide in BlackBerry sales, and perhaps gain back some market share. The secret to their potential success is that these devices offer something for everyone who wants a better BlackBerry experience, but who doesn't want an Android or iOS device.
Despite the rabid fans of Android and iOS-based devices, there are a number of reasons BlackBerry devices still hold a solid percentage of the market share. Perhaps most important, a BlackBerry is inherently more secure than either an iOS or Android device. This is why you've seen governments, ranging from those of India to Indonesia, trying to keep BlackBerry devices out of their countries with little success. Their intelligence agencies can't crack the military-grade encryption that RIM uses for BlackBerry Messenger. You don't see efforts to ban iPhones or Android devices.
The second is that BlackBerry devices, along with BlackBerry Enterprise Services integrates more seamlessly into the enterprise-computing environment than do other devices. This explains why you see federal employees carrying BlackBerry devices here in Washington, but you rarely, if ever, see them use anything else for official business. While Apple especially has made significant inroads into the enterprise, there are still some tasks it's not up to.
But in reality, the biggest hurdle for RIM isn't in the enterprise. RIM needs to be accepted by consumers as well as by business and government users. Can it accomplish that task? The answer is, maybe. A great deal will depend on how good the user experience is when the first BlackBerry 7 devices hit the street. If they work well, they'll likely find consumer acceptance, if they're clunky or slow, then they won't.
RIM is betting that new devices will be enough of a leap ahead of the BlackBerry 5 and 6 models that they will turn users' heads.