As a BlackBerry fan, it has been a roller coaster of emotions surrounding the companies future. Like most, I thought a change in leadership was required moving forward. At one point, like many analysts, I thought that they should drop QNX and use the newly open sourced WebOS. I wanted to write about my thoughts as soon as new CEO Thorsten Heins took the reigns, but I deferred. I’ve gotten to see how Thorsten’s RIM would be different from the last decade of RIM. Would simply moving the former Co-CEOs up to the boardbe enough to invoke the needed change? So far I’m impressed.
Let me preface this by saying that nothing has outwardly changed in RIM’s product execution plan. They don’t magically have smart phones right now that can “leap frog the competition.” RIM is still pushing towards a ground up platform rebuild. Now that we’ve got that out there, this CEO is running things a little bit different. High on his priority list is getting a Chief Marketing Officer to help their brand, particularly in the US. Within minutes of being appointed, he called up self proclaimed “#1 BlackBerry FanBoy!” @CrackBerryKevin. (founder of CrackBerry.com) He seems to be willing to talk openly with his highest fans, and critics. Things also seem to be “unofficially” leaking to bloggers. Recently we’ve seen what appears to be early marketing shots of BlackBerry 10 leak out, renders of the BlackBerry London (BlackBerry 10 device), as well as a rumored update date for the PlayBook. I’ve quickly warmed up to Thorsten, and he seems to really want the input of all people who use the BlackBerry solution extensively.
–IMAGE CREDIT: CrackBerry.com–
These positives don’t make the path forward any easier for the former king of mobile. They’ve introduced all the BB7 phones they are likely to bring out in the US market last fall, and a BlackBerry 10 device likely won’t hit the market until late this year. They will get a little excitement via a PlayBook 2.0 software update, though the headline for most tech blogs will be that this should have been 1.0. A slightly upgraded PlayBook is expected in the Summer spec wise, including HSPA+ connectivity. Once we get to the debut of BlackBerry 10, the road ahead is still a difficult one. BlackBerry 10 will have a tough time luring people away from the already hugely popular Android, and iOS. WebOS already failed, even with an OS that many felt was more intuitive than the competition. Window Phone has had a tough time gaining ground with a strikingly different user interface with Metro.
We definitely want all competing operating systems to have a future in the market. Different people improving on existing ideas, as well as throwing in ideas of their own is what pushes us into the future.
~Signed a slightly more optimistic BlackBerry fan.
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