BlackBerry Delivers, but the Z10 and Q10 Face Stiff Competition
The newly rechristened BlackBerry delivered on its promise to breathe new life into an aging, iconic product line, but it still faces an uphill battle in a market dominated by Apple's iPhone and devices based on Google's Android operating system.
Mon, February 11, 2013
Slideshow: The New BlackBerry 10 Smartphones
At a New York launch event attended by hundreds of reporters and analysts late last month, CEO Thorsten Heins underscored the plan to reignite his company by first announcing that the vendor had changed its name from Research In Motion to BlackBerry.
The two long-awaited devices introduced at the event -- the first smartphones that the struggling Canadian company has unveiled in 18 months -- appear to be designed to appeal to two major audiences: consumers and corporate users.
The photo and video capabilities in the new BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 smartphones are likely to appeal to consumers. Enterprise IT managers, meanwhile, will likely welcome the embedded BlackBerry Balance technology, which can create two separate, secure spaces on the phones -- one to hold corporate data and the other for personal files, said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC.
Heins said the touchscreen Z10 and the Q10 handset with a physical keyboard were designed essentially from scratch around a new platform based on QNX, a real-time operating system RIM acquired in 2010.
While the BlackBerry was the undisputed leader of the smartphone market for years, the advent of the iPhone and then the rise of Android-based devices led many of its once-loyal users to defect.
The company now has about 80 million users, amounting to less than 5% of the worldwide smartphone market, and it faces an uphill battle when it comes to marketing and selling the Z10 and Q10, even though many analysts say the new devices are a good step forward from previous generations of BlackBerries.
"I think this is definitely a good start, and it will help slow those defections, but many [consumers] in the U.S., for example, have already left," noted Jan Dawson, an analyst at Ovum. "Most of the remaining BlackBerry users in the U.S. are on corporate-issued devices, so it's about convincing the IT department to continue with BlackBerry."
Outside of North American corporate IT operations, BlackBerry will run into trouble finding users, Dawson said. "The only big differentiators are productivity-centric, so [the Z10 and Q10 will] help with business users, but not so much with pure consumer users," he said.