It wasn't all positives for BlackBerry this week. There were a few misses from the BB10 launch this week that could hamper its comeback plan.
1. Terrible Timing
Despite a lot of new and improved features, BlackBerry's new OS is still late to the party. BB10 was delayed from 2012 to this year, which saddled BlackBerry with even more subscriber losses and caused the company to miss the big holiday shopping season. What's more, BB10 could have had a greater impact for BlackBerry a year or two ago when its financial losses and customers defections weren't quite as steep. Bottom line: BB10 solves a lot of issues for BlackBerry that should have been addressed sooner.
2. Awful Availability
If there was one common complaint from BB10's launch this week, it was the wacky release schedule for BB10 devices. The BlackBerry Z10 launches first in the U.K. of all places this Thursday, while customers in BlackBerry's native land of Canada have to wait until Feb. 5th. And if you think that's bad, the U.S. won't see the Z10 officially until March -- after the United Arab Emirates, by the way -- and even then it will launch for "most carriers" rather than all of them. Meanwhile, the Q10 won't arrive until April, so classic BlackBerry fans will have to hold out even longer. BlackBerry will have to try to sustain the excitement for BB10 several more weeks if it wants to successfully cash in on the buzz, which is hardly an easy task.
3. Spec Shortcomings
The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 earned a lot of positive accolades, but there are a few curious shortcomings for the new smartphones. For one, the two phones feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, which is a fine system-on-a-chip (SoC) and is used by other popular smartphones today like Samsung's Galaxy S III. The problem is, new smartphones are already moving up the performance ladder to quad-core chips, like the forthcoming Galaxy S4 that's rumored to have a new quad-core SoC, so a dual-core chip isn't exactly cutting edge. Furthermore, the Z10 is only launching with one version -- a 16 GB model -- with a microSD slot for expandable storage. But, the BB10 device only supports an additional 32 GB of storage, which still falls below the 64 GB available in competing smartphones like the iPhone 5. While the technical specs for the Z10 and Q10 are solid, BlackBerry could have made them spectacular.
After Wednesday's launch, it's clear that Heins and the rest of the company have taken the criticism and complaints of the last few years to heart and made some major changes to make BlackBerry competitive again. Critics will no longer be able to say the company sat idle while the market changed around it. The big question going forward will be, in a mobile computing market where users are now calling the shots, can BlackBerry appeal to consumers along with IT departments? Time will tell.
PUBLISHED JAN. 31, 2013