After a long wait, BlackBerry finally delivered its new product earlier this year. The BlackBerry 10 operating system, unveiled in late January, signaled a new era for BlackBerry. The old isn’t exactly gone, though. In fact, the beauty of the new BlackBerry is how it combines its best legacy features with new features that consumers love.
Already we’re seeing results. Over a million customers have chosen to get the BlackBerry Z10, and many more million will follow them as it becomes more widely available (it has been released for less than a month in the US). Combine that with the release of another model, the full-QWERTY BlackBerry Q10, later this spring, and it could be a big comeback for the smartphone originator.
There are plenty of reasons to believe in BlackBerry right now. Here are five reasons that they will grow with time.
1. Superior navigation
For the past six years iPhone users have lived with the same navigation system. The smartphone has evolved significantly in that time, yet Apple has done little to improve the base navigation in iOS. Android, with its dynamic widgets, added some flavor to smartphone UIs, but at its core Android is about the same navigation as iOS.
In the past people have blasted BlackBerry for having the same UI and navigation for too long, and that it went stale. Can the iPhone really avoid such criticism, especially since we’ve seen no indication that they plan to upgrade the iOS navigation?
BlackBerry 10 features a navigation system that users will love, if they don’t love it already. The smartphone, at its core, is still a messaging device, and so the BlackBerry Hub, with the ability to view it from any screen, will prove a huge feature for consumers. There is also the live tile feature on the homepage which allows users to browse recently opened apps. The overall gesture navigation lets you work through what you’re doing, without distracting yourself with grids of apps.
2. Unparalleled messaging
Even as it faced intense competition from iOS and Android, BlackBerry retained its superiority in messaging. With a stripped down, yet intricate, email system, BlackBerry held onto many customers who might have otherwise switched. In fact, in the early days many BlackBerry users did switch to iPhone, only to switch back because BlackBerry messaging is superior.
BlackBerry Hub, a consolidated messaging feature in BlackBerry 10, takes messaging to a new level. It not only shows you all of your messages in one place, but it allows you to view them no matter what screen you currently have open. Just swipe from the left side and you’ll see all of your messages in one place.
In its transition to BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry also upgraded its popular BBM app, allowing for video and voice chats as well as screen sharing. BlackBerry balance provides users with a way of keeping their work lives and personal lives separate, without having to carry around two smartphones. All of this puts BlackBerry’s messaging services at the top of the field.
3. Variety of models
One reason Android won over such a huge segment of the market is that its’ not a single device. The iPhone is a single device created by a single company. Android spreads the field. Yet there are downsides to that. Since it’s open, any manufacturer can create an Android smartphone. This leads to many low-quality Androids on the market — even from well-reputed companies
BlackBerry keeps its production in-house, so you get a single operating system on multiple high-quality devices. The BlackBerry Z10 is the first on the market, and like most other smartphones it is a full-touchscreen device. But it won’t be the last. The Q10 will hit carriers later this spring, and it brings back BlackBerry’s signature QWERTY keyboard. It is conceivable that many users are waiting for the Q10, because they’ve come to know and enjoy a physical keyboard.
What about the future? There are plenty of options for BlackBerry to expand the reach of BlackBerry 10. Phablets — smartphones that are extra large and border on tablet size — have been quite the craze in the past year. BlackBerry could easily move in on that territory with BlackBerry 10. Even a 4.5-inch device will open it up to many more consumers. We will see variety, and that will expand BlackBerry 10′s reach.
4. The enterprise advantage
In the past few years many companies have switched to or adopted iPhone and Android models for their corporate cellular needs. Since those devices stood out at the top of the market, many enterprise customers wanted them. Yet the question persists: do they possess the proper security for enterprise? In some cases they do, but they simply do not match BlackBerry’s security capabilities
That’s what CEO Thorsten Heins meant when he talked about combining the best of the old BlackBerry system with the new QNX-based operating system. It’s also a reason that BlackBerry had to take its time with releasing its new operating system. Combining operating systems is an enormous task, but BlackBerry executed, providing a new interface and navigation along with its time-tested messaging and security systems. The combination makes BlackBerry perfect for enterprise.
5. Carriers’ choice
Believe it or not, cellular carriers love BlackBerry. That was the case in the mid-00s, when they were among the few phones that required a data plan. While carriers loved the iPhone for a while, thanks to its massive sales, their feelings were mixed. The typical iPhone user consumes a high level of data, which depletes a carrier’s resources. BlackBerry handles data efficiently, meaning its users consume less. Carriers have to love that.
In addition, carriers are always looking for more competition. Consumers might not be as apt to upgrade their phones, and therefore extend their contracts, if the only options are the same old iPhone and Android smartphones. With an additional competitor, carriers can convince more customers to upgrade and try something new. That is to say, BlackBerry 10 can certainly drive new smartphone sales.
For a while BlackBerry seems to be on its way down, releasing merely incremental upgrades on its old system. BlackBerry 10 is a revelation, bringing all new features to the table. Already they have sold millions of units, and with the Q10 coming soon, and with more consumers stating their love for BlackBerry 10, it should sell more units still. We could soon see a three-horse race in the smartphone field, rather than the same old two.