BlackBerry 10: Why It Could Save the Company From Extinction

The BlackBerry 10 made its debut Wednesday amid much fanfare and mixed reviews. To lead BlackBerry, formerly known as RIM (Research In Motion) back to the top of the mobile computing heap, this new device is going to have to be everything it ever was and then some.

BlackBerry was the first smart phone.  It owned the mobile market in the middle of the last decade but has seen a steady erosion of its market share as mobile computing shifted from a business differentiator to a consumer necessity.

With the introduction of the BlackBerry10, they’ve set themselves up to either succeed brilliantly or fail miserably in a head to head competition with Apple and Samsung and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft.

The strength of BlackBerry has always been in its user interface, easy to use keyboard, encrypted communications, and enterprise management tools. The Blackberry 10 builds on these strengths even as it attempts to reach into the consumer market place with a completely new user interface and an improved camera.

According to analysts who have previewed the new device, which will not be available in the U.S. until March, the Blackberry 10 Active Frame function allows four applications to be open on the screen simultaneously while the user can move seamlessly between them.  How cool it will be to take a photo and then share it simultaneously via Skype? 

Additionally, BlackBerry has replicated the feel and ease of use of its trademark key board as BlackBerry 10 touch screen key board. This should make the user experience more satisfying than either iPhone or Galaxy.

And then there is BlackBerry Balance, which will allow an employer to bifurcate the device.  IT Administration can lock down and encrypt all access to corporate applications on the device while not locking down the employee’s personal applications. This is another direct challenge to both Apple and Samsung as more and more employers encourage employees to improve productivity through BYOD (bring your own device) programs.

Despite all of these advanced features; it is still far from certain that BlackBerry 10 will be enough to put BlackBerry back on top.   

First, they’ve got to overcome the perception that iPhone and Samsung are cool and BlackBerry isn’t.    

To be cool, it is essential that all the major social media platforms are convinced that it is good business for them to invest in making their applications work well on the BlackBerry10. The vendors won’t make the continued investment unless they see a rapid return, i.e. early adoption of the device.

As Gartner Group’s Michael Gartenberg told ABC News, "It appears the table stakes apps and services are there for most users. The key will be for BlackBerry to keep up the momentum in terms of execution and perception."

As both a loyal Blackberry user (I do love my keyboard) and a Gartner alumni, I’m rooting for Blackberry to over-perform.