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Jan 30 2013   12:41PM GMT

BlackBerry scored with BB10 line, but game was over

Ron Miller Ron Miller Profile: Ron Miller

BlackBerry might have scored, but the game was over long ago. (c) Can Stock Photo

When BlackBerry released the BlackBerry 10 line of phones today, it reminded me very much of a basketball player who made a basket after buzzer had sounded, the competition was in the locker room and the stands were empty. Nice try, but it didn’t count.

First the good news. These appear to be really nice phones and VentureBeat reports they have lined up all the big names for apps including Skype, Facebook, Box, Evernote and Twitter. They even had the good sense to change the company from Research in Motion, a name that never made sense to me, and officially call the compnay BlackBerry. A name change was overdue, although they might have broken completely with the past and tried something new.

Today’s announcement involved two phones, the Q10 and Z10. The former is a more traditional flat-front glass smartphone without a hardware keyboard, The latter has the external hardware keyboard we are used to seeing on BlackBerry devices. These aren’t your father’s BlackBerry phones though. They are slick and beveled and actually pretty.

And the Z10′s Time Shift Mode feature is a huge differentiator. It’s like a DVR for your camera, letting you shift back in time to get the shot you might have missed by waiting too long. It sounds futuristic and cool, something you don’t normally associate with BlackBerry, although I imagine you need a lot of hard drive space to accommodate that kind of ability. You can see how it works in the short YouTube video below:

The bad news is in spite of getting all the major players to build apps, and coming up with some phones that dazzle, BlackBerry has been in free fall for over three years. It went from a company that controlled more than 40 percent of US smartphone market share in 2010 to an also-ran by the time they made this announcement. By November of 2012, the most recent data available,  comScore was reporting RIM, now BlackBerry, controlled a mere 8.3 percent. That is a precipitous loss of market, and when your brand takes a hit like that, it’s hard to recover.

The company may attract the few advocates it has left, but it’s going to be very difficult to break the iOS-Android stronghold on the market.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum said in a statement that he was also impressed with the platform and the phones, but  essentially, it didn’t matter. “Ovum believes that despite a well-designed Blackberry 10 platform, that will certainly attract short-term interest from existing users the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market.”

And BlackBerry isn’t helping itself as FierceWireless reports by delaying the US release until March. When you wait too long to get your updated product to market, the last thing you want to do is get your potential market hyped up and then make them wait 6 weeks. It’s the kind of dumb move that has hurt this company in the past.

I give BlackBerry a lot of credit though for doing what it needed to do. The problem is, they’re about 18 months to two years too late to the game. They made the shot they needed to. But while they stood by the basket with hands thrust in the air, it simply didn’t matter. The game was over long ago.

4  Comments on this Post

 
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  • GregInAZ
    My company with 60,000 employees warned us they are discontinuing support for BB entirely and we need to get iOS or Android phones ASAP to replace our BB Bolds we have now.  I was looking forward to upgrading but it's not in the cards. 
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  • jp5472
    I was in the predicament last year of having just upgraded our BB systems servers to 5.0.3 w High Availabilty, by June 2012 was getting evaluations of Mobile Fusion Studio and thought there was a glimmer of hope as to our company sticking with BB, but then the Aug/Sep delays were announced.  Without the product in hand, who can really fight the good fight for long?  Your company is already on life support and yous suffer repeated delays even remain relevant.  What a shame
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  • Ron Miller
    Greginaz: Interesting. So even if you want BB they won't let you choose it? In other words, you can choose any device so long as it's iOS or Android? Did they give you a rationale for that? I have to say in an Bring Your Own Device era, I find that a bit surprising.
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  • Ron Miller
    jp5472: You're right. BB has had more than its share of self-inflicted blows and when it loses a loyal customer like you because of them, it doesn't bode well for them.
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