Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blackberry’s new OS, is it what you’re going to get next?

Its funny to me when companies try and do a rehearsed presentation.  Its a bunch of stiff executives looking like they are reading from a card and trying to get anyone to care about their crap.  Watching Thorstein Heinz to a presentation makes me shake my head.  Get someone up there who can present because it looks like he is just phoning it in.  Haven’t these guys ever done a good presentation?  Anyways, I have already digressed.  We are here to see if BB10 is worth any of your attention.  Lets get to it.
I think it was smart for Blackberry to release a phone with a physical keyboard.  Even though there aren’t as many people wanting one as there used to be, it could be a differentiator for enticing people to move to Blackberry.  Then again, companies stopped making physical keyboard phones for a reason, the demand probably wasn’t there.  I’m not too impressed with the hardware.
I was clear to me from the outset that they are targeting the business or corporate market with some consumer hooks thrown in.  I think this is smart because Blackberry doesn’t have a chance in hell at keeping up with iOS and Android in the consumer market.  Blackberry has seen a lot of decline with the bring your own device movement and they are trying to get that market back.  I think they are too late to the game to make it matter.
For the OS, lets start with “Blackberry Flow”, which I think is their real-time multi-tasking feature of the phone.  I think this is great and it is something I wish Android had but I have to wonder how much of a hit this is going to give to battery life.  If it does in fact hurt battery life to a significant extent then it isn’t worth it to me to have real-time multitasking.  I am guessing that depends on how lean the OS is at performing its functions.  I do like the Blackberry Hub but I don’t really see how its any better than having a notification tray like Android and iOS.
They also showed how you move between apps which is accomplished by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.  I don’t really see how this is any better than having a button to accomplish this but it is really about user preference.  I personally do not think I would like a gesture only based OS.  I also think that there is a learning curve that needs to be overcome to learn all of the gestures.  Having buttons allows someone to have a focus point of accomplishing a specific task in the OS, like bringing up a menu or multitasking.  For the average user, I don’t think they are going to take the time needed to really explore the OS and would be lost right of out the gate trying to figure out all of the gestures.  I like having that home button to go when I need it.  I also do not like that the main screen of the OS is the multitasking interface and not the app selection.  Then again, its really trivial.
I think that the Blackberry Hub is an interesting way of doing something that already exists, but I don’t really see how its any better than having a notification tray like Android and iOS.  I get this trend that Blackberry is trying to solve problems that do not really exist.  Its almost like they are trying to trick me into thinking they are doing something different.  What I think the trays do better are having OS wide notifications and not just notifications from my social networks.  I do however think its a better way than what Windows Phone has to offer which only displays notifications from one social network at a time when entering the app.  Windows phone doesn’t have a notification center although live tiles were supposed to be their solution.  Its not a good solution.
The keyboard concept that they showed off is a great idea.  What you would do is start typing and predictions would be laid out across different keys on the keyboard.  You pick which one you want and flick it up, making it easy to type on a virtual keyboard.  I like how you flip up on the keyboard to get to symbols as well.  Well thought out and I feel that solves a problem many people have.  I personally think this is the best idea they have come up with in the whole OS.  I also find it somewhat difficult to type on a virtual keyboard, although it helps to have word completions at the top on android and Windows Phone and iOS autocorrects for you.  The autocorrect feature is terrible for iOS.  To see how terrible it is, go to damnyouautocorrect.com.
Blackberry balance is also another neat feature where the phone can be brought to work and have a work mode and a personal mode so that your personal stuff is not mixed with work stuff.  It makes it inviting to bring the phone to work and not have to worry about having your personal stuff stored on the phone.  This is the feature that makes me feel they are targeting business people and not consumers.  This is also solving a problem that people have and may lead to some sales from corporations that find this feature beneficial to their employees.  The bad thing is that it can be implemented in iOS and Android if they choose to do so.
Lastly, Blackberry tries to make me think they have apps competitive with other platforms, which we know that isn’t really true.  The small developer isn’t going to spend the time and money on this platform unless its business focused.
The whole presentation was focused on the corporate client, which I think is exactly what they should do.  They aren’t going to be able to compete with iOS and Android by trying to get the consumer market.  What I think they are hoping is that the OS is enough to convince companies to adopt the platform and hopefully slow down the bring your own device movement.  Unfortunately for Blackberry, I do not think they will be successful just like Windows Phone hasn’t been successful either.

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