As RIM’s executives check-out of Florida’s Orlando World Centre many people will be wondering if enough has been done to change the Canadian manufacturer’s fortunes. The BlackBerry brand once revolutionised the mobile world but now RIM is fighting to keep up with the runaway success of Apple and Android, struggling to find a new direction that will entice consumers back.
RIM has had to suffer the difficulties of seeing customers losing interest in the very thing that it did best – physical QWERTY keypads. Much of the smartphone-buying public has turned its attention to the large touchscreens made by Apple, Samsung and others, and the standard BlackBerry design now looks a little fiddly in comparison to the large, black slabs.
However, the BB10 features that were shown off at BlackBerry World 2012 point towards a brighter future with some very impressive things going on. The new OS is designed from the ground up and will offer something completely new to users with developments that can rival those of the biggest manufacturers.
The highlight is the BB10 camera feature that allows you to time-shift a photo to correct mistakes, a brilliant idea which shows that RIM is very much capable of being an inventive and creative force in the mobile world. Other aspects of BB10, such as the flowing menu system allowing multitasking and the incredibly intuitive onscreen keypad show that RIM has armed itself well before they take on companies that have been making large touchscreen devices for years.
That change in the Canadian firm’s direction, from physical to onscreen keypads, is something that was made clear during BBW 2012, with developer’s devices being given out that were based around a 4.2-inch touchscreen. However, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins put the fears of some BlackBerry traditionalist to rest when he announced that the manufacturer would not be eliminating physical keypads from its range completely and would be looking at producing such devices following the BB10 launch. RIM clearly doesn’t want to move too far from its hardcore consumer base but it looks as if what little we have seen of the BlackBerry London is set to become a more standard BlackBerry design of the near-future.
Another point that is very much in RIM’s favour is the feedback from guests at the BlackBerry Jam developers-only event which ran concurrently with BlackBerry World 2012. In the past it has been said that the BlackBerry App World is very difficult for developers to work with and this is in part the reason why the number of apps available for the platform has fallen far behind Apple and Android. Developers have said that the new OS is very easy to work with and, with them also having the incentive of a $10,000 bonus, this could see a ruck of great, new apps being designed specifically for the platform.
Whatever RIM comes up with will have some stiff competition this year, with Samsung having just announced the Galaxy S III and a new iPhone coming at some point further on. Both will be big sellers and tempting consumers back to the once-loved BlackBerry brand will not be an easy task, even with the fantastic new software that has been demonstrated. RIM’s fate remains to be seen but for now the manufacturer has at least demonstrated that it can still be at the very forefront of mobile phone technology.