Earlier today, Research in Motion announced the next-generation Z10, a new touch-based smartphone. The device itself will come in white or black, and is equipped with a 1280×768 display measuring 4.2″. Doing the math, one finds that the Z10 has a higher pixel density than the iPhone 5. Not a bad start.
Storage will only be offered in 16GB capacities, but it is also equipped with a card slot so users can upgrade storage. The Z10 also comes with standard features such as a removable battery, LTE support, and an 8MP rear camera. RIM also boasts that there will be 70,000 apps at launch from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and MLB. The Z10 features a software keyboard, while the forthcoming Q10 has a physical keyboard, so diehard Blackberry fans will be pacified.
Without having ever laid a hand on either the software or the hardware, I have concerns as to whether RIM can regain a foothold in the market that they formerly dominated. I think these concerns mostly stem from the fact that this is a management problem as much as a product problem.
Say a competing product comes out of nowhere, that does everything your product does, but better. Do you simply ignore it, or do you work to improve upon their ideas? If you are RIM you ignore the problem until your profits drop off and the company begins to flounder. A few years later this dawns on you, you fire your co-CEOs and then make an announcement that you finally have a modern mobile OS, a new device that can run the new OS, and a new name for the company.
Yeah, Research In Motion has renamed itself “Blackberry” after their major product line. Sure it’s a more identifiable brand, but it’s the same line of thinking that has snuck its way into American Airlines at the moment. A “we can rebrand our way out of bankruptcy” mentality. A fresh coat of paint doesn’t cover the stench of a dying company.
I could be wrong. Blackberry 10 and the new Z10 and Q10 could pull the company out of the bind that it currently finds itself in. I just don’t see that happening though. Currently we have a duopoly in the mobile space- Apple and Google. Blackberry had marketshare, but now that they’ve shrunk to such a small portion of the market, they are going to have to fight their way back up the food chain, which is a hard slog for any business. Microsoft is facing the same problem at the moment trying to grab marketshare with Windows Phone 8.
The nut of the argument I’m trying to make is this- This looks like too little too late from RIM, or whatever they are calling themselves these days. Then again, much the same was said about Apple in the mid-1990s. They too had back themselves into a corner, but managed to reemerge as a major innovator in consumer technology with products such as OS X, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. To me, Blackberry’s announcements look like the company is trying to play catch up, and not a reinvention of what already exists, which is what they need at the moment. Besides, the Z10 won’t ship until March at the earliest in the US, allowing the company to fall further behind other manufacturers.