Since I wrote that BlackBerry 10 [#BB10] won’t see the company through the next ten weeks, let alone the next 10 years, as CEO Thorsten Heins claims I’ve been accused of not knowing what I’m talking about, misrepresenting what Heins said, and of being naive.
So, here’s a summary of why I think BlackBerry 10 will – for all intents and purposes – be dead on arrival.
- The iPhone 5 will, and apologies to Apple, ‘Change everything. Again’. The new iPhone will raise the bar on what customers expect from their handsets.
- RIM is marketing its phones to the wrong audience. BlackBerry calls its users ‘hyper-connected’ and “people of purpose” – “not the average smartphone user”. But, by chasing iPhone customers, RIM is targeting its marketing to the average smartphone user.
- The fact remains that BlackBerry handsets are seen by most consumers [both B2B and B2C] as a business tool – not a consumer device. RIM believes that BB10 will help make it compete with the iPhone for consumers affections. It won’t.
- RIM’s proposition is confusing. Its adverts say ‘tools, not toys’, but it’s focus – using Heins’ BlackBerry Jam presentation as evidence – is that BB10 is primarily about toys.
- BlackBerry still has around 77m subscribers – most of them, I’d argue, use BlackBerry handsets primarily for business. But, as Bryan Glick – Editor of UK IT trade magazine Computer Weekly – points out in a recent article ‘RIM / Blackberry is just one upgrade cycle from oblivion‘ this could change quickly.
- Consumers, ultimately, don’t care how good the OS is technically – that’s just the geeks and nerds like me. Consumers [B2B and B2C] do care about whether their phones allow them to do what they want to do, quickly and easily. It won’t matter whether BlackBerry 10 is technically better than iOS and Android if the user interface is perceived to be inferior, and a shortage of apps mean handsets will likely fail to deliver.
- Apple’s new iPhone will be available within days of their launch. By the time devices running BB10 are released [sometime in Q1 2013] many consumers will already have chosen an iPhone or Android device rather than a BlackBerry.
- Apple gives its customers [and prospects] what they want. The iPhone 5 will likely deliver what consumers want – even if they don’t yet know what that is. RIM, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out who it’s target audience is these days.
If you need more evidence to support my position, I offer Nokia’s recent experience. On the day the company launched its new Windows Mobile 8 handsets – the 920 and 820 Lumia devices – which were supposed to help the company out of the smartphone wilderness, its share price fell 13%. Couple that with admissions that the main functional advances had been simulated for demonstration purposes and… well, the talk is now that a new feature phone for developing markets may save the company.
In my industry, there’s a saying – “Perception is Reality”. Unfortunately, regardless of what the reality of BB10 is, the perception that it’s ‘too little, too late’ will likely mean that it will be dead on arrival.