A week ago today BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion, launched its much-anticipated BlackBerry 10, coming in two versions: BlackBerry Z 10 with the touch keyboard and BlackBerry Q10 with the legacy hardware keyboard. The former has launched in the U.K. and Canada with Abu Dubai coming next week. U.S. launch is anticipated for March once carrier testing is completed. The Q10 is expected to appear in April.
While I still await the arrival of my Z10, it was interesting to follow the coverage over the past week as I completed my vacation in Costa Rica last week and then attended the Toronto BlackBerry Experience Forum on Monday.
Reviews have largely been positive, especially by those who “get” the value of its unique BlackBerry Hub/Flow/Peek features. Some samples:
CrackBerry.com’s Simon Sage gives a very through and complete walk-through in BlackBerry 10 Review:
Though BlackBerry 10 has one foot in the past, it reaches out in new directions to finally meet competing platforms head-on. Navigation has been optimized for touch input, doing away with the optical trackpad. Developers have been given Cascades from T.A.T. so they can make apps beautiful. Powerful camera software opens new possibilities for photos and video. Active Frames provide helpful at-a-glance status of running applications. Users can now share live views of their device displays through BlackBerry Messenger.
The bottom line is that BlackBerry 10 really is the best of the old and the best of the new assembled seamlessly into an elegant, practical, and integrated package.
My favorite review is David Pogue’s in the New York Times, BlackBerry, Rebuilt, Lives to Fight Another Day, where he starts off with:
I’m sorry. I was wrong.
This apology is for the bespectacled student at my talk in Cleveland, and the lady in the red dress in Florida, and anyone else who’s recently asked me about the future of the BlackBerry. I told all of them the same thing: that it’s doomed.
He goes on later to say:
Well, BlackBerry’s Hail Mary pass, its bet-the-farm phone, is finally here. It’s the BlackBerry Z10, and guess what? It’s lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas.
and, after a fairly thorough detailed review, concludes with:
So then, is the delightful BlackBerry Z10 enough to save its company?
Honestly? It could go either way. But this much is clear: BlackBerry is no longer an incompetent mess — and its doom is no longer assured.
Ewan McLeod, author of Mobile Industry Review, in 10 Things I Love About The BlackBerry Z10, gets to his 10th “Thing” and then says: “Ok I was only going to write 10 but here are some more that I can’t help but tell you about.” Check out the review for his 23 “Things”.
Stephen Fry, in The Fire Question, starts out with
It’s very simple. I have a Samsung Galaxy III, a BlackBerry Z10 , an iPhone 5, an HTC Windows 8x and an LG Nexus 4. More or less the smartest soldiers in the smartphone army.
There’s a fire in my flat/hotel-room/bordello/ski-chalet. I have only enough time to take ONE. Which do I choose? This is the question I have to ask myself.
But if “taking a little getting used to” is the worst I can say of it, then let me say the best of it. I think the BB Z 10 (the virtual keyboard version) is one of the very very best gadgets I’ve ever played with. From the moment you slide your finger up and the gorgeous display fades subtly into view to the moment you pull down the little sleep curtain to reveal a pretty orange alarm clock, you are won over.
Read the post to find out his choice in the fire scenario.
QNX’s hometown newspaper1, the Ottawa Citizen, concludes BlackBerry 10 a whole new cellphone experience, with:
The BB10 is a glowing technical achievement, but its success is far from certain.
It changes things. It forces people to adjust to a new style of mobile computing. BlackBerry has introduced this kind of earth-shaking change once already with its Playbook tablet computer. Those tablets were left to languish on store shelves while consumers opted for more familiar user experiences and app stores stocked full of choices.
BlackBerry wanted to make this device a powerhouse, and it has succeeded. Whether consumers respond in kind is yet to be determined.
As for the customer response on Canada’s launch day, BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion, issued a brief statement:
“In Canada, yesterday was the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone. In fact, it was more than 50% better than any other launch day in our history in Canada,” said Thorsten Heins, President & CEO of BlackBerry. “In the UK, we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone.”
and the Globe and Mail reports, in RIM hails ‘best day ever’ for a Canadian BlackBerry launch:
Mark Langton, a spokesman for BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility, said that Tueday saw the “biggest day one sales” of any previous BlackBerry device, and that a large number were people upgrading from older BlackBerrys. Rogers Communications Inc., meanwhile, said it sold more BlackBerrys on the Z10’s Feb. 5 launch date than on any other day since helping launch BlackBerry service in 1999 – and noted that some stores had temporarily sold out of the device.
Off to a great start in two markets where BlackBerry maintained some degree of success during the “long wait”. We still await the response in the U.S. market next month to get a better feel for its impact there.
In a separate post I’ll talk about Monday’s BlackBerry Experience Forum attended by many of BlackBerry’s enterprise customers in the southern Ontario area.
1While BlackBerry’s headquarters remain in Waterloo, Ontario, the QNX developer team has always operated out of a suburb of Ottawa.