As Research in Motion prepares to launch BlackBerry 10 at press events around the world tomorrow, we take a look at five reasons why RIM's last role of the dice could save it from failure.
Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins shows off BlackBerry
10. (credit: Reuters)
Must Read: Five Reasons BlackBerry 10 will Fail
It's been a rocky couple of years for RIM, which has seen days of service blackouts, millions slashed from its stock value, and the departure of its co-CEOs - but with an entirely new user interface running on two new smartphones, BlackBerry 10 might not be the forgone conclusion many expect.
1. Flow, Peek and Hub
BlackBerry 10 features an all-new user interface called Flow, which focuses on being able to access everything with little more than a swipe from the homescreen.
Instead of finding an app and launching it, users of BB10 can 'push' the interface to one side from wherever they are in the operating system, revealing the apps underneath, unread notifications, or your email inbox.
The idea of bringing up information from beyond the screen's edges is something adopted by a number of upcoming 'alternative' mobile operating systems, such as Sailfish by Jolla, Firefox, and Ubuntu, all of which could soon make iOS and Android look dated.
RIM boss Thorsten Heins said at a BB10 demonstration in September: "Nobody should have to worry about opening apps...They should just be there."
2. A keyboard that learns
Say what you like about the network outages and free-falling share price, BlackBerrys have always had excellent keyboards, and for those who routinely type out lengthy emails on the morning commute, most touchscreen alternatives can't compete.
With BlackBerry 10, RIM will be announcing two new smartphones - the X10 retaining that physical keyboard, and the Z10 offering something new, a smart keyboard that learns how you type and offers up words to save you writing them out.
Word suggestions appear scattered across the keyboard and can be quickly swiped up into the message you're writing; word prediction improves the more you use it, and the keyboard is optimised for one-handed use, so a swipe from right to left with your thumb deletes text.
It may not be groundbreaking, but excelling in specific areas like the keyboard is what BlackBerry needs to do to win consumers over.
3. Apps. Lots of them.
We expect BlackBerry to offer up impressive hardware and software tomorrow, but no matter how good the Z10 and X10 smartphones might be, they will fall flat without a well-stocked and high quality application store.
Windows Phone 8 hardware is mostly excellent, and the user interface is good too, but the whole package is let down by a chronic lack of quality applications, with Facebook and Twitter being particularly bad.
Early indications suggest BlackBerry 10 will offer 70,000 apps at launch, considerably more than the 2,000 Windows Phone launched with in late 2010, and don't forget that Apple launched the iPhone with no app store at all.
This should give BB10 a good start, offering early adopters enough quality apps to keep them away from iOS and Android, but we won't know if this strong starting position will translate into increased market share until six or 12 months down the road.
4. Smart camera
Called Time Shift, a feature of the BlackBerry 10 camera application lets you go back or forth in time slightly to find the perfect shot - after you've taken it.
Say you're taking a group photo but one person has their eyes shut. You can rewind or fast forward briefly to a moment when everyone is looking, as the camera records several frames before and after you press the shutter button.
Celebrity endorsements on Twitter; major, simultaneous, global press announcements in London, Dubai, Paris, New York and elsewhere; two previous public demonstrations and a Super Bowl ad - RIM has been busy with the marketing of BlackBerry 10.
Although the new OS has been delayed twice, the company has kept BB10 in the public eye by showing off updates in May and September 2012, and even the recent, detailed leaks of upcoming BB10 hardware will have done RIM's publicity no harm.
We're excited to finally see BB10 in its finished state, and so should you, the consumers, because while iOS and Android account for 92 percent of the smartphone market, Windows Phone 8 is struggling to gain momentum, leaving third place up for grabs.
BB10 may have been delayed for the best part of a year, but CEO Heins remains confident that the delays have produced a better, more complete product.
Tomorrow is going to be a huge day for RIM and BlackBerry, and IBTimes UK will be attending the London launch event, which kicks off at 3pm.
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