Research In Motion or RIM has officially announced its first new BlackBerry 10 devices: the Z10 and the Q10.
The Z10 is arguably the company’s first contemporary smartphone. It runs on the company’s new operating system BlackBerry 10 and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the device will launch mid-March in the US.
The reviews of the new device have started coming in and it’s a little bit of a mixed bag.
The Z10 looks modern and the software has been refreshed to look a lot more contemporary – more akin to an Apple iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S3.
RIMM also gave reporters a sneak peek at its new Q10 phone which looks like the hybrid we would expect (it has a keyboard on the phone) from the company that makes BlackBerry phones.
So this makes sense right? A totally redesigned OS, and different phone designs?
I am not really sure any of this makes any difference.
The fact of the matter is the company may have waited too long to develop this technology and this valiant effort may have come too late.
I believe this for a few reasons.
First, the brand is not cool and trendy anymore. The BlackBerry brand is associated with business people and the enterprise. I believe it will be hard to make the transition back to a more widely accepted brand.
Second of all, apart from the keyboard, it’s unclear what value the new phones bring that cannot be achieved with an iPhone or any Android device.
As Microsoft may be finding out, consumers need to quickly and clearly understand what value your offering provides. Ambiguity is never really a good sign.
Third, timing is everything. Microsoft has recently launched Windows 8 and its corresponding phone OS – Windows Phone 8. With the tremendous amount of resources Microsoft is able to bring to this fight, it’s hard to see RIM besting Microsoft in this arena.
Also, RIM only make phones. There is no compelling ecosystem you buy into when you buy a RIM smartphone. This is a significant disadvantage when waging war against Google, Apple and Microsoft.
And finally, the company is still doing odd things like hiring (and announcing) celebrity singer and pianist Alicia Keys to be its “creative director” on the day of its big launch.
The Verge put it best:
…because the iPhone was briefly cool, BlackBerry feels like it needs to be cool too, so it throws a bunch of money at a celebrity and hopes that having Alicia Keys come on stage will help them seem like rock stars instead of the awkward cover band they really are….The problem is, products don’t really need to be cool. They just need to work. And the harder you try to convince us they’re cool, the more we start to worry about whether they work.
Frankly, even though the technology in the phones seems to be very competitive (Storage, Memory, Processor, Screen and more), I still believe the company’s best days may be behind it.
I believe that RIM makes more sense as an acquisition target for Microsoft than as an independent company.
If the company is not acquired, I would hold and not invest any money in RIM for at least six months to one calendar year. It will probably take that long for us to see how this new OS and product launch turns out.
Something tells me however that we won’t have to wait that long.