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The long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system was launched last week to much fanfare as the smartphone maker attempts an epic comeback.
But, while BlackBerry's new platform has earned a number of positive reviews, the company faces an uphill battle to reverse the market shares losses to Apple and Android phone makers in recent years. According to IDC, BlackBerry's market share fell from 10.4 percent worldwide in 2011 to just 4.6 percent last year.
Does the BlackBerry 10 OS have enough juice to get the company back into the smartphone game? CRN spoke with several solution providers who were cautiously optimistic about BlackBerry's future, citing BB10's strong enterprise functionality and new consumer-oriented features as major improvements for the smartphone platform.
"It's the spark that BlackBerry needs. They were dead in the water without [BB10]," said Steven Kantorowitz, managing director of BTG Mobility in Jericho, N.Y.
BTG Mobility, the mobile division of Breakthrough Technology Group, focuses on smartphone integration and configurations services as well as custom app development for a variety of platforms, including BlackBerry, Apple's iOS and Android. Kantorowitz said he's impressed with BB10 and believes many of the new features and improved functionality will help the company win back some customers who defected to the iPhone or Android devices.
"My financial services customers, for example, love the BlackBerry Balance feature, and the predictive virtual keyboard on the Z10 is great," Kantorowitz said. "The BlackBerry browser has been pretty terrible in the past, but the BB10 browser is a remarkable improvement."
Some partners say they're already seeing a strong uptick in BlackBerry business. Tenet Computer Group, a solution provider based in Toronto, is a longtime BlackBerry partner and was a showcased app developer at the BlackBerry 10 launch event in Toronto. Rick Jordan, Tenet's director of mobility sales, said a large number of customers have already upgraded to the new OS since last week's launch, thanks to the business-focused features like BlackBerry Balance and BlackBerry Hub.
"We obviously have a vested interest in BlackBerry's resurrection," he said. "But we're very excited for BlackBerry 10. I think they've got a real winner."
BlackBerry announced this week that the BlackBerry 10-based Z10 smartphone saw record sales since its launch in Canada. In addition, the company said the Z10 sold nearly three times as well as any other smartphone over its first week. In the U.S., the BlackBerry Z10 is expected to launch sometime next month.
NEXT: BlackBerry's Challenges And Channel Opportunities