On Wednesday, in what could only be described as a media spectacle, the once mighty technology king Research in Motion (RIM) announced its return to the smartphone arena at the BlackBerry Experience event in New York. Ranking, literally, just below the Super Bowl in social media hype, anticipation has been high for what many call RIM's Hail Mary Pass. Many experts in the smartphone industry have called RIM's latest move as one of the "most comprehensive in mobile history", with Forbe's boldly asking "will this be a Steve Job's moment for RIM?"
Here's a breakdown of what will be released on Wednesday:
BlackBerry 10 OS (BB10): RIM had revealed the new OS late last year in its BlackBerry Jam conference. Some innovative features included in the OS is a new predictive text implementation, a camera with multiple picture capabilities which allow you to choose different versions, and a whole new, more powerful and stable backend for prolonged usage.
The BB10 has also had a complete programing makeover, giving it a new and somewhat refreshing experience. Some may attribute it to a mix between Android and iOS, hopefully best of both worlds.
[See the BB10 operating system here]
BlackBerry World: RIM is promising nearly 70,000 apps ready to be deployed in its redesigned BlackBerry World app store. Thorstein Heins, RIM's new CEO, has gathered a number of big name music and video partners ranging from Disney Studios, Sony Pictures to Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Expectations are high, since BlackBerry World will be the key indication on whether RIM has a chance to succeed or fail. With other competitor app stores stocking nearly 1 million apps combined, RIM is headed for a year of harsh competition.
To combat Apple's and Google's apparent numerical superiority, the BlackBerry World content store will include an extensive catalog of songs, movies, and television shows. In a move similar to iTunes Store, RIM seems confident that it will be able to compete with next-day availability for many TV series and same-day availability for movies.
BlackBerry Devices: RIM will launch two devices, a touch-screen media focused BlackBerry Z10 and a business oriented keyboard-equipped BlackBerry X10.
Both devices have a dual-core 1.5ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and come with 16 GB internal storage with the ability to extend up to 64 GB with a microSD card. The Z10 has a 16:9 4.2inch screen at 720p resolution whereas the X10 will come with an unique square sized screen of 720px x 720px resolution. Both phones will have two cameras, a 8 MP backfacing and a 2 MP front facing camera with a 1800mAh battery.
The Z10 and X10 are rumored to be priced at $199 under contract.
[See pictures of the Z10 and X10 here]
With RIM back in action, here are a couple of reasons why it might be wise to switch back to BlackBerry:
1. BlackBerry users are not trapped in the Apple-Android world which, combined, control 90% of the smartphone market. BB10 finally unloads a breath of fresh air to the stale mist that Android and Apple have created. BlackBerry users will benefit from a fresh perspective as they have the ability to innovate faster and create more unique ideas over a market that has stagnated due to a large userbase.
2. Many smartphone users started with a BlackBerry, since RIM ruled the first decade of smartphones. For all its woes, RIM still has a huge following globally with over 80 million users. Most are actually eager to buy a new BlackBerry rather than switch to Apple or Android.
3. A smartphone user is still a new type of user. There are hundreds of millions of users world wide who have yet to step up from a cell phone to smartphone. The revival of BlackBerry gives RIM a huge chance to snatch up developing markets.
4. RIM's respect for app developers is very telling and many top-notch app developers have returned to RIM. In under an hour, RIM recieved over 15,000 applications for new apps to their BlackBerry World App Store. RIM has been providing developers with prototype BB10 phones since last spring and have run countless programs to encourage good developers to build great apps. Neither Apple nor Google have any of these personal relationships with their developers, with Apple sometimes hindering and harassing developers.
5. As the smartphone era moves from hardware capabilities to software capabilities, RIM's new BB10 is at an unique position to offer some serious innovative approaches to commonly known problems. RIM could take Apple's strategy in the smartphone arena, since it's a new player in an already saturated market. Just as Apple did with the PC, music, and phone industry, RIM has the unique opportunity to "Steve Jobs" the smartphone industry.
6. RIM's world-class security is unparalleled, and has a long relationship with corporation and government IT professionals. As Apple and Android start facing real issues such as malware and hacking, the "made for cruise missiles" operating system powering BB10 is designed from the ground up to be naturally resistant such attacks.
It remains to be seen whether all these ideas catch on with the mainstream public, but one thing is for sure, BlackBerry is back and here to stay.