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New BlackBerry 10 devices impress - But can they save RIM?

Al Sacco | Aug. 29, 2012
You may not have noticed, but BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has been on a media blitz during the past few weeks, showing off its upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones to select reporters and bloggers in"off-the-record" demonstrations.

"Just tell (us) if it is gonna fly or die. Black or White. No mid option."

I know just how he feels. And I know millions of BlackBerry users feel the same way. Unfortunately, it's just not possible to at this point to say if BlackBerry 10 will save RIM.

Most of my opinions stated above are positive. That's because I'm honestly impressed with BlackBerry 10. I left the demo feeling optimistic for RIM's future. But it's my job to be realistic.

As impressive as the BlackBerry 10 software is, and regardless of how much I like the QWERTY device, RIM is facing an up-hill battle in reviving the BlackBerry brand.

The number one challenge for RIM: Apps. Regardless of whether or not the average smartphone user really needs even a fraction of the mobile apps available on RIM-rival platforms, including iOS and Android, the users think they need them. And in this case, perception has become the reality.

It's a fact that RIM has fallen behind its rivals when it comes to app quality and selection, and this is a huge reason why RIM decided to release a brand new OS instead of improving on its old foundation. The current BlackBerry OS is difficult for developers to work with, and BlackBerry 10 should be a lot simpler for developers.

RIM's future isn't just about the BlackBerry 10 hardware or software; it's about developer support--and not just independent developers but the big-name developers that have shunned BlackBerry in the past. The Netflixs. The Amazons. Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. Instagram.

RIM tells me it is well aware of this problem, and it's courting both smaller developers and the large, corporate developers through a variety of initiatives meant to raise the profile of BlackBerry 10 and inform developers of the benefits of creating software for the new platform. For example, RIM will hold a number of developer events, called BlackBerry Jam sessions, in a variety of countries in the coming months.

To sum all of this up: RIM is putting forth an admirable effort to remain in the mobile game with BlackBerry 10. And it's not taking the low road by simple copying features and functionality found in other mobile platforms. Unfortunately, RIM's position in the market has reached a point where unique hardware and software will not matter if the company cannot convince the developers and partners required to sustain a healthy mobile ecosystem that BlackBerry 10 is worth their time and money.



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