Do you ever get that feeling that its not the world that is wrong, its you? I wished I was at BlackBerry World so that I could have asked RIM CEO Heins that very question. Every single highlight caused a immediate “Uh oh” follow-up moment. So lets get down to it shall we?
RIM decided to pull back the curtains and give the audience and world a sneak peek at the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform. Here are my initial thoughts and reactions to what took place. I repeat, these are MY thoughts and reactions and I claim full responsibility for them.
RIM’s engineers have done a startling, even breathtaking job in innovating with the camera. They have essentially devised a “time machine” for the camera allowing the user to snap a picture and go back or forward in time a few frames to select the best shot available. This is the type of stuff their previous co-CEOs would have touted as the power of their engineers. Its one of those WOW features that you can imagine being marketed to death and the market connecting with.
That is it. Okay maybe the fact that RIM has moved so totally far into the touch experience is an Ooh. They are fully prepared to go both feet into the touch experience.
They touted their system as the only true “real-time OS.” This is certainly hyperbole as I’m pretty sure Android will let your apps run all day long if you so choose.
RIM CEO Thurnston Heins
The guy had to be giddy as a school girl seeing her “first love” passing by. That’s not exactly a good thing. I kept asking myself if he actually thought the snippets they showed this morning were actually superior to everything not only currently out, but what we are sure to see in Android, iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8 this fall/winter.
Somebody really needs to teach CEOs to get out of the way of demos and let the presenters showoff the company’s hard work without being interrupted in spasm like fashion. Like someone else wrote, there is a reason why Jobs always got off the stage when others took over.
The platform is highly gesture based
I’d say that the BB10 platform is more gesture based than any other competing platform and its not even close. By this I mean that RIM is banking on the fact that gestures will be so intuitive that users will come to meet anything else with disdain. Where iOS has added gestures as an added layer to workaround the limitations of a static grid of icons RIM has built their platform’s usage around gestures and almost nothing can be done without a gestured required.
I think RIM has gone too far to the gesture extreme. It feels like RIM’s engineers got caught up in the whimsical nature a good gesture provides and overloaded on the feeling. It’s a case of too much of a good thing. Without a demo and user manual the chances a user picking up a BB10 device and getting lost, confused and ultimately frustrated is quite high. There is no reason why you have to “move” things that are in focus slightly to reveal another thing.
For Example, when a call comes in instead of pushing a button to answer it like you do on any other OS you have to slide the on-screen image either up to dismiss the call or down to accept the call. This doesn’t save time for the user it adds time to something that should be a single tap.
When even the promotional video you release gives off a “ho hum” reaction and doesn’t incite ANY desire to want to investigate the platform further you know you’ve missed the mark badly.
It feels like RIM is still engineers building systems to be used by other engineers. In a competitive environment where they will lack legacy support and OS loyalty such an unintuitive gesture based system will be extremely hard to gain market share. When combined with the fact they have released BB Mobile Fusion to help secure and manage iOS and Android devices corporations have little reason to push their employees to carry a BlackBerry device.
Herein lies the rub with RIM and BlackBerry 10. Their marketplace will be miniscule compared to the likes of Android, iOS and yes even Windows Phone come this fall. Trying to shortcut your way to building an effective ecosystem isn’t going to cut the mustard. Its like buying a knockoff when the real thing is right next to it for the same price. Who does that? Nobody!
In the end there is still six months left until RIM starts shipping the first BlackBerry 10 devices. If their OS was released today with what appears to be a 4.2in screen with no notable display advantages it would be a middling offering. The gesture based system is cute until you realize most of the features are engineering feats not user experience feats. The company is betting heavily on retaining their loyal customers by offering them a touch screen experience but the change is so shocking it might serve to confuse and frustrate the audience they are targeting. This fall there will be a new iPhone compete with iOS6 and a more flushed out Siri, a new iteration of Android and higher end devices, and Windows Phone 8. All of these offerings look to at the very least match what RIM is bringing to the table with the advantage of fuller fleshed out ecosystems and carrier support lined up. To compete with Android, Apple and Windows Phone RIM will have to produce higher end hardware which will price itself out of the lower end market where it owes its recent success to. My initial thought I leave to you with this.
RIM is worth its weight in gold too bad the general public prefers platinum and diamonds as everyday accessories.