By Paul Ndiho
Research in Motion (RIM) dropped its name in favor of the BlackBerry as it unveiled its first two phones with the new BlackBerry 10 system. The long awaited BlackBerry Q10 will have a physical keyboard, while the Z10 has only a touch-screen keyboard. In full disclosure, I’m an avid fan of Blackberry customer takes a closer look.
Amid sagging sales in Europe, Asia, North America, and in the developing markets, Blackberry is back – And its generating a buzz in the smart phone market. Research in Motion (RIM) re -designed the system to embrace the multimedia, apps and touch-screen experience prevalent today.
Unveiling its long-delayed new devices, Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry CEO, said the new phones will give the existing – brands a run for their money.
“Today is actually not the finish line. It’s the starting line.”
The new Blackberry phones will not hit the U.S market until mid-March. Investors did not like that, and sent the stock down more than 8 percent at one point. But CEO Heins was quick to defend the setback.
“It’s not a delay. We always said we would be launching in the first quarter of 2013. So I think we are keeping our word. The reason is that the European process, their testing process is, let me say, quite shorter than with U.S. carriers.”
Analysts say the delay could hurt the already struggling smart phone maker and question whether there’s time for the once-pioneering BlackBerry to catch up to Apple’s trend-setting iPhone and devices running Google’s Android system.
“The market they are competing against is not static. So a phone today that has a beautiful high-res display, well, right now there are one or two phones that have even higher resolution displays but in 3 months’ time who knows.”
RIM is promising a speedier device, a superb typing experience and the ability to keep work and personal identities separate on the same phone.
Some fans of the phones could not hide their love for the blackberry.
“From a technology perspective, I think what’s very cool about this- this is a restart. This is a re-launch of BlackBerry.”
Financial analysts are starting to see some slight room for a comeback. With smartphone sales growing, the BlackBerry 10 can succeed without iPhone and Android users switching.
However, some critics say regardless of BlackBerry 10’s advances, the new system will face a key shortcoming: It won’t have as many apps written by outside companies and individuals as the iPhone and Android.
“They are at the mercy for the time being of how these two devices do in a hyper competitive market. The idea is to draw out the unique attributes of the platform, the use case, etc. We’ve seen another platform, Microsoft’s; come out with what I think is a truly innovative and unique user experience that hasn’t really moved the needle for that particular platform in the competitive marketplace.”
Overseas, the brand power of BlackBerry has also been plummeting. Once it was seen as a status symbol for the elite. In recent times, iPhone and Galaxy have taken over that privileged spot. But its comeback means they are ready to compete and increase it 3.4 percent share of the global market.
Last year Blackberry expanded its presence in Nigeria, and announced the first official BlackBerry branded retail store in Lagos. The move made the expansion of RIM’s footprint in Africa from its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and underlines the company’s commitment to its partners and customers in one of the world’s fastest growing mobile markets. Where half of Nigeria’s 4 million smartphone owners use BlackBerrys, and use among the wealthiest segment of society is forecast to increase six fold by 2016.