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BlackBerry's square smartphone and other desperate moves

Galen Gruman | July 21, 2014
The company is attacking competitors and talking up a square smartphone, when what it needs to do is shut up and deliver.

For a while, BlackBerry highlighted its security in a constructive way, showing off how much more secure its BlackBerry platform is for military and other sensitive uses while also promoting its BlackBerry Enterprise Service's recent support for the good-enough-for-most security in iOS and Android. Then it partially opened up the management of its BlackBerry devices, so enterprises that used other providers' management tools would be able to keep BlackBerrys in their device mix -- a sensible coexistence strategy.

But now BlackBerry is reinforcing its reputation as an old-school product for a tiny niche, using very off-putting tactics to boot. Yeah, that'll help.

Credit: BlackBerry

A square BlackBerry gets notice -- as another example of not getting it
At the same time, BlackBerry has been semi-officially leaking its Passport device concept, a square-screen BlackBerry that puzzles pretty much anyone who's seen it. It doesn't fit in a shirt pocket, a flaw that guarantees it won't get used. Its keyboard uses a nonstandard aspect ratio, a flaw that will besmirch BlackBerry's reputation for excellent physical keyboards.

Worse, it doesn't have a point.

A rectangular screen has the advantage of providing two viewports, one landcsape and one horizontal, so you can adjust the screen view for the content at hand. A square screen eliminates that versatility. It doesn't offer any additional benefit either. Nothing is really designed to work on a square screen -- neither websites nor apps. BlackBerry would need to come up with amazing square apps to change that game, but BlackBerry doesn't do compelling apps.

The Passport will allegedly ship this September. I don't want to believe it's a real product because it's such a stupid idea. But BlackBerry not only says it's a real product but that customers who've used prototypes are "clamoring" for it. Uh huh.

BlackBerry has said the same thing about every new (failed) product in recent years. Early customers "loved" the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, but no one bought them. Early customers "loved" the BlackBerry Z10 (which I did like), but no one bought them. Customers "loved" theBlackBerry Q10, a throwback to the once popular, keyboard-oriented BlackBerry Bold, but no one bought the Q10 either.

If that's love, BlackBerry needs to date someone new.

Perhaps BlackBerry should stop developing smartphones, if it thinks the Passport is a good idea. Such a device only reinforces the cluelessness that BlackBerry has stubbornly clung to since the iPhone first shipped and is not a good message to your potential customers.

I really wish that the folks at BlackBerry would shut up and deliver. The more they talk, the worse they look.

Source: InfoWorld


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