With the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system this week and the company name change that went along with it, the future of the business and the devices that were once so popular and addictive they were nicknamed “Crackberrys” are finally on display for everyone to see.
The initial reaction to the launch of the OS and two handsets, the Q10, which retains the physical QWERTY keyboard so beloved by BlackBerry fans, and the Z10, an all-touch smartphone that more closely resembles Apple’s iPhone or a host of Android-based devices, was generally favorable.
Whether an overhauled operating system, new name (Research In Motion, or RIM, is out, in favor of BlackBerry), and sleek hardware are enough to revive the company’s fortunes is another matter. Analysts wasted no time offering their predictions, particularly regarding the company’s chances in the business world, where it aims to offer several advantages over competing devices.
“With the superior messaging experience that the BlackBerry Z10 offers, and its highly integrated enterprise features, BlackBerry could well win back the hearts of business users, particularly in Europe and North America,” Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa, wrote in a research note.
“Without a doubt, the BlackBerry Z10 needs to seduce business users and advanced consumers,” Saadi said, adding that they are often more concerned about whether the device enables high productivity and creativity than they are about price.
Research firm Ovum had a less positive outlook for the devices on the consumer side and predicted that despite a well-designed BlackBerry 10 platform that will attract short-term interest from existing users, the company would struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long term would become a niche smartphone player.
“The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 will stand out from the Android masses and look distinct from Apple’s iPhone. The user experience of BlackBerry 10 introduces some nice new features but importantly builds on BlackBerry’s UI heritage and therefore will certainly appeal to existing Blackberry users,” Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, wrote. “However, the challenge for the company will be to attract new users and those that have already moved to alternative smartphones.”
The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) programs and the general consumerization of IT has likely played a role in the decline of BlackBerry devices, but Sam Lakkundi, chief mobile officer at mobile and multi-channel application platform provider Kony, said BlackBerry has given the mobile workforce a lot more to think about when it comes to the features and functionality they demand.
“In today’s BYOD-driven world, where BlackBerry was the first enterprise mobility company, the launch of Balance, which gives users the ability to have a built-in distinction on their device between personal and business applications, might put the company in a better position to hold on to its corporate customers,” he said in a statement. “Whatever side of the debate you’re on—whether you think this launch will serve as the company’s comeback or not—many will agree that the new security features and seamless user experience have positioned BlackBerry to compete with Apple and Android for enterprise users.”