BlackBerry 10 Debut Bombs, Lacks Key Features to Beat Apple's iPhone
Over the past few months, media attention has shifted from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM). The assumption was that RIM could make a comeback and turn BlackBerry 10 into the next great mobile OS. With RIM shares now trading down well over 5 percent on Wednesday, it seems obvious that many traders were not impressed with BB10’s debut.
Two weeks ago Benzinga outlined the five key features that BlackBerry 10 needed to accomplish that goal and conquer the iPhone. They included:
- Exclusive and Revolutionary Apps
- The World’s Best Camera
- Seamless Controls
- An Operating System that Changes Everything
- Genuine Consumer Appeal
Exclusive and Revolutionary Apps: Missing In Action
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Skype, Twitter and Angry Birds are among the apps BlackBerry promoted this morning. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of consumers already have access to them via iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Mac OS, Windows 8 and a zillion other platforms. Most of BB10’s shiny new apps also appear on the eight-year-old Xbox 360!
Thus, no one — absolutely no one — will buy BB10 for new software.
The World’s Best Camera: Consumers Will Decide
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) arguably stole the title for world’s best smartphone camera when it unveiled the PureView, a 41-megapixel camera that allows users to zoom digitally without reducing the quality of their images.
If today’s presentation is any indication, BlackBerry has not done anything to top Nokia’s efforts. It may have developed some interesting software to go along with the camera (which allows users to edit photos and videos on the fly), but the camera itself seems to be pretty standard.
That said, if the software features — which include image overlays to change the appearance of photos and videos — are popular with consumers, they may not care if BB10 devices lack the best camera available.
Seamless Controls: To Be Determined
If anything stood out this morning, it is the way users can interact with BB10. Mashable’s Pete Pachal, who spent the last week using BB10, said that the phone can be a “real joy to use.” However, he said that the new features “amount to learning curve that anyone picking up the Z10 for the first time may not have the patience for.”
“In a world where most smartphone sales happen in a store, RIM’s going to need some serious on-the-ground support for this phone for customers to really see the potential,” he wrote. “I can see a lot of people throwing it down in frustration after the first 30 seconds.”
This is just one man’s opinion, however. The BlackBerry Hub — which the company describes as a “single place to manage all your conversations whether personal or work email, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications” — is fairly intriguing. This feature could help persuade consumers who want something different and/or more intuitive than Android or iOS.
An Operating System that Changes Everything: Epic Fail
There is no doubt that BlackBerry has put a lot of effort into the development of BB10. Unfortunately, that effort did not lead to the evolution of mobile operating systems.
To be fair, mobile phones have not experienced a major shift since the iPhone debuted in 2007. Android has done some great things, but iOS got there first. BB10 merely builds on what Apple created and what Android has refined. It does not, however, significantly change the world of mobile computing.
Genuine Consumer Appeal: Not Yet
In his pre-launch assessment of BB10, Ovum Chief Telecoms Analyst Jan Dawson said that RIM “continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers.”
“There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control,” he added. “We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end.”
Dawson’s comments came before today’s event. However, Mashable’s Pachal (who reviewed the BlackBerry Z10) agrees that BlackBerry has a tough road ahead.
“For iOS and Android owners, BlackBerry 10 is a tough sell,” he concluded. “That’s why RIM’s battle to reclaim relevance will likely be fought overseas, where smartphone penetration is low.”
Critical assessments aside, BlackBerry has done absolutely nothing to genuinely inspire consumers to drop their existing phones for BB10. Not even a guy with a ponytail can change that.
Investors are no more impressed than the critics. Shares of RIM have plummeted roughly eight percent today, signaling an end to the tech stock that had become Wall Street’s new shining star.
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