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back to article Can BlackBerry survive? Well, the woods are still full of bear poo

BlackBerry brought its top bosses to Europe this week for its annual Jam developer event on the continent. With the launch of the new BlackBerry OS 10, and its Z10 and Q10 smartphones, now behind it, this is a good time to look at company's realistic prospects. I think the Canadian tech giant still holds a few aces, but before …

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Bronze badge

BBM vs iMessage

Just out of interest (never had a BlackBerry); what's the difference between BBM and iMessage, or even between BBM and WhatsApp? Does BBM still count as a differentiator in the non-SMS chat market?

Not a poke, just wondering...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBM vs iMessage

BBM - equals cheap chat, only BB - BB no other hardware, either cheap (as you get it for £x per month) or expensive as you have to get on top of any data.

Imessage works iphone/ipad/ipod.mac - iphone/ipad/ipod/mac

both replace mms pretty well.

whatsapp is the same, with the plus or more platforms supported.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBM vs iMessage

BBM is allegedly better encrypted, but I'd have to look up how it works to know for sure (it's been a while). WhatsApp as well as iMessage are far too open and suffer from US centric routing so cannot be trusted with anything sensitive (so is Viber, btw, but they are at least open about it - that is, when you ask, they won't volunteer that either).

Some people I know refer to WhatsApp as the most successful global SMS intercept exercise ever.

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Silver badge

Re: BBM vs iMessage

The main difference is the installed userbase. If you are a teenage girl, iMessage is no use to you because none of your friends have iPhones, they have Blackberries and use BBM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBM vs iMessage

Of course Google Talk (which does text chat, voice chat and video chat), is on every Android phone, and is a free download for iOS and Blackberry.

You never have a problem with your stupid friends not buying Android.

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Paris Hilton

Re: BBM vs iMessage

> "If you are a teenage girl, iMessage is no use to you because none of your friends have iPhones"

In America, the opposite is true. An American teenage girl without an iPhone would need to turn her mother into the child abuse authorities immediately, before being hopelessly left behind in the social scene.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBM vs iMessage

Strange then that in the UK you can't pass a group of pre-teen or teenage girls without knocking an iPhone out of one of their hands. Clearly you also missed the memo that pointed out iPhones are the phone of choice for the aspiring chav.

I suspect you're just a bit behind the times. Do please try to catch up.

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Anonymous Coward

BBM Cheap for now...

As a volunteer, I work with the "yoof" of today. 2 years ago, would come equipped with a slew of well worn, but working blackberries and BBM.

However over the past 12 months, those have been replaced with older android devices, which now sport what's app, kik and the like.

The only plus as far as I can see, is BBM/Email is bundled for £x per month by operators, wheras email/what's app is an unknown amount of "data" (1)

so BB is surviving on the will of networks propping up those 2 services

(1) Giffgaff for example bundle email/bbm for £3 a month on top of other payg bundles.

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Anonymous Coward

I see 4 problems for BlackBerry..

BES: I see that more as a problem, because ActiveSync has won the day. Encryption is not the answer as SSL tunneling is basically supported by any device, certainly when it comes to transporting the usual groupware data. There's also another issue: the backhauling from ALL Internet traffic to blackberry.net will start to create issues in a world that is increasingly checking how privacy and corporate secrets are protected. If you do a bit of digging you find that Blackberries only enter into government use when Blackberry hands over the crypto keys to that closed pool - per country.

BBM: if BlackBerry is smart they open up that protocol. At the moment, only jabber based services are open enough to allow integration, but there encryption has to be added. If BlackBerries' BBM can be used across many platforms it would be much more interesting because you could drop a message on someone's phone from a desktop. Apple's iMessage has sort of gotten there, but it's totally opaque how well it is protected.

New OS/Apps: they start from scratch with a new OS. The OS itself isn't new and has been well stretched in all sorts of other places, but it's basically a beta for this environment. I think it's safe to assume older Apps won't work on it, and there is a chicken and egg issue with developers and client base.

Keyboards are not unique: plenty of people went Blackberry exactly because it had a physical keyboard, but there is no reason why other suppliers cannot jump into that gap when it seems there is a market. As Apple has shown, lawsuits based on form factors are harmful to brand standing..

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Anonymous Coward

"ActiveSync has won the day"?

While I agree with a good part of your analysis, I'm not sure how you draw the conclusion that ActiveSync has made BES obsolete. Unless I'm missing something, ActiveSync only works with Microsoft Exchange, which is far from ubiquitous at enterprise sites -- and is actually losing market share to Gmail and other cloud services. BES provides an encrypted email push protocol which is far better than what you can do with IMAP IDLE, and it seems like it would be in Blackberry's best interest to capitalise on its benefits.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "ActiveSync has won the day"?

OK, I can see where I may not have been clear: ActiveSync as a protocol has won the day, mainly because it's an all-in-one connection for email, calendar and contact updates and because it's now effectively supported by most open source groupware packages. Zimbra, Open Exchange (aka OX) et al, the code to interface with Open Source infrastructures is effectively out there, working and stable, whereas the awful rubbish that is MAPI is only now being looked at by Open Source developers because it is such a mess (AFAIK there's only one code set that does it, and it still lacks a decent coding structure)..

I look at the application width - BES only ever interfaces with Blackberry, ActiveSync has been part of the software stack of most smartphones since years. As a 3rd party developer, it would thus make more sense to support ActiveSync..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I see 4 problems for BlackBerry..

1. You might be right with ActiveSync, however you're a little naive if you think that any platform is free from government snooping.

2. Maybe, but then it's a unique selling point ... unless you have to start paying per use.

3. Not sure it matters ... apps for the majority of users is really a case of marketing. 99.999% of apps are completely unnecessary and the other .0001% are available in some form on all platforms. So what it comes down to is advertising, word of mouth and 'image' ... not functionality.

4. Wow, other smartphone makers have already tried the physical keyboard approach, clearly you've not been paying attention. BB btw have released one without a physical keyboard ... so not sure what point you're trying to make. Some people like physical keyboards, some don't.

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Silver badge

The competition

Apple have lost their panache, IOS doesn't cut it anymore, no more Shiny Shiny. Tim Cook botched things up seriously here (cough cough Siri, cough cough Maps).

MS are flailing about wildly and making very little progress. Market penetration - what penetration - 4 sales != penetration?

Android - Now this is Rim's most serious competitor and it's not even a company, it's a platform. RIM will have to pull a magical rabbit out of the mythical hat in order to entice Joe Public away from Android. They also have to add a magical "function" that will entice the corporate users - not an easy task...

They have a new OS ( Qnx) which might be able to encourage a few "bleeding edge users". They have an excellent messaging platform ( Email , BBM) etc which existing followers of the platform will probably continue to adhere to.

Their handsets tend to be like Thinkpads, ( or at least the expensive handsets are), which means solid and reliable but not very "beautiful or Shiny Shiny"...... This for me is a good thing, give the bling to the Chavs, I don't need it.

BUT, they need to provide us with something revolutionary..... They need to present a new "dish", we've been fed the same dish for the last last 3 years..... We need some "Haute Cuisine" in the mobile world..

We already know what Apps are, Maps are, Voice recognition is or does ( or does not), predictive text, etc etc etc etc .

Please Mr Blackberry, give us something that will make us say "wow", now that is a nice feature why did no one think of that before....

Otherwise it''s going to be a difficult road to walk

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Battery life

This is the only area in which us Android owners still look enviously at our mates' iPhones. Despite the laudable benefits of Android (staying out of Tim Cook's walled garden, easier to develop apps, a standalone mobile computer instead of the IOS computer peripheral model), power management still lags behind IOS. Experience shows that WP8 isn't any better. If Blackberry have been able to tweak BB10 to achieve something close to Blackberry's legendary battery life, I'll be happy to switch to a non-Android, non-IOS phone that I don't have to charge after 12 hours of normal (i.e. heavy email) use.

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Silver badge

Re: Battery life

Lets repeat after Quxy:

Battery life, Battery life, Battery life, Battery life

--- it's the one differentiator that somehow got lost in the smartphone wars. I want my charge-once use-a-week phone, and I want it now. (It should do proper email, web, etc., so I will not go back to my Nokia 6300.)

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: Battery life

The only way to get that is either to have higher energy density batteries (Li-ion already a small potential bomb in your pocket) or to make the screen/backlight/processor take less current.

The real problem is if you use a phone with a large screen to do what it's intended for, viewing videos, looking at photos, reading Twitter/Facebook etc then the screen becomes a major user of power.

I can't see much chance of things improving rapidly, so carrying a spare battery or an external juice pod for recharging will become essential. It's not ideal, but with increasing core-count/clock-rate processors and bigger screens it is inevitable.

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Boffin

The problem...

...is that the iPhone (despite this FOSS developer's dislike for its other features) really does manage power consumption much better than Android.

I'm currently in New England, and just went through 72 hours without power. My wife's iPhone 4GS lasted the entire time, with frequent email and SMS, and occasional browsing; while my Razr (on the same carrier) was dead 18 hours in. Given that the iPhone battery is only 1.43mAh, compared to the Razr's 1.75mAh, the blame has to be laid squarely on the OS, not the smartphone hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The competition

I think you sum up the problem with consumers ... rather than looking for something that is solid and works they want something that glitters and makes them go 'wow'. Which is kind of unrealistic for a smartphone, and as it happens I've not been wowed by any smartphone ever as they are just expected evolutions (yeah I read a lot of Sci-fi when younger, so actually all today's smartphones are a bit of a disappointment).

All are woefully underpowered for serious computing and the best they have to offer are poor imitations of standalone devices. i.e. Wow it's got a great camera. Wow it's got an MP3 player. Wow it's got maps. Wow it can play videos. Wow I can use it to read books. Wow I can play 'limited' games .

... but none of these wow's make the smartphone better than the devices I already have ... and that is always going to be the problem with smartphones ... some manufacturers have moved towards over-sizing them and once they get to the ~10" size they'll become more useful and as good if not better than standalones. Until that point they'll just be jack of all trades and master only of making phone calls.

Ironically perhaps the biggest wow is that they can be used as remote controllers for TV's and other connected media devices ... but I'm not sure if being a glorified TV remote is really something to be proud of.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem...

Some droid apps just suck power, perhaps there's something to be said for Apples quality control of their app market.

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Re: The competition

"BUT, they need to provide us with something revolutionary..... They need to present a new "dish", we've been fed the same dish for the last last 3 years..... We need some "Haute Cuisine" in the mobile world.."

i keep hearing this comment being made by numerous reviewers, pundits and critics from all over the globe, but never are there proposals of what these additions, changes "new dishes" should be. Sure, the maps, pull down notification bar, led color changes and so called lagging bits and bobs can be rectified by an OTA software upgrade but what is it that consumers want as a determining feature to differentiate the BB OS from IOS WP and Android.

We are the consumers, let's give the guys at BB something to ponder over and we just may get it....

Personally i think the device is fine as it is....

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Trollface

Wow!

" I'm surprised how rapidly the BB10 gestures become so natural, you curse their absence on other devices. (I particularly like the task-switching, which is best on the market)."

Stone the crows, Andy Orlowsky likes something Nokia did first. And yet Andy had pilloried the N9 (or anything Nokia did after mishandling Hildon - prejudice much?).

It's a good thing that BlackBerry recognizes good ideas when it sees them dropped by the side of the road.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

You can of course download gesture apps for Android that work in the same way as blackberry...

Personally I perfer that approach, rather than the bloat approach of trying to include everything including the kitchen sink incase users might want to take advantage of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

The Android approach leads to non-standard gestures so it's not like you can easily move from one device to another without having to install the same gesture package.

On BB10 it doesn't matter whether the user wants to use the gestures or not as they have no choice. Once you spend an hour with BB10 all other mobile UIs seem archaic and clunky.

Buttons? We don't need no stinkin' buttons

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Bronze badge

the same way as blackberry?

I don't think so, blackberry gestures always start on touch sensitive bezel area (not on screen, to avoid interfering with active app). Last time I heard, no Android device had appropriate hardware, touch buttons do not count.

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Silver badge

Re: Wow!

When I tried out a Blackberry Z10 I couldnt get to the home screen without it forcing me through "Create new message". I cursed the lack of a home button.

So much for natural.

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Re: the same way as blackberry?

I don't think the bezel is touch sensitive. I expect all they are doing is requiring that the gesture start from the very edge of the screen. There would be little benefit to actually using a touch sensitive bezel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the same way as blackberry?

Hmm, the N9 distinguishes between gestures that start at the edge of the screen and those that start somewhere else. Personally, I think iOS would be a BETTER interface if they just had one home screen and used the swipe model. Just an opinion of course. Killing the N9 was one of the stupidest decisions Elop has made.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

"Andy Orlowsky "

Who's he?

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Gold badge
Happy

BIS bashed, boshed?

My congratulations to Andrew and/or the subbies, for coming up with that heading.

I agree with Andrew that many users are promiscuous with devices. I say this as someone with an iPad and a Nokia Lumia 710. Although it looks like work has decided on the iPhone for me now...

Some people like the convenience of the same OS and apps across the board. They want to pick up whatever size device is most convenient depending on where they are, to do the same things with the same apps. Others see the different devices as doing different jobs, and are less reluctant to have a foot in more than one camp. Multi-platform apps (e.g. Kindle) help here.

Even though I'm moving to an iPhone, I can easily imagine my next tablet being an Android, given the huge difference in price at the moment. Plus Samsung will let me have a decent stylus. But then, for me, the tablet is for games and the internet, the mobile is for calls, messages and email. Both do get used for maps/navigation though.

Having said all that, I had a play with the latest Blackberry a couple of days ago. I didn't exactly find it easy to use. There seemed to be some sort of weird display setup, so instead of taking you into email and contacts (filled with fake info), when you clicked on those you got sent off to some marketing video. Was a bit strange, and I gave up playing with it. Although they have got better store placement than Nokia ever seemed to manage with either the launch of the Win Phone 7 Lunias or the WP8 ones.

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Horses for courses

I have a Win7 notebook, an Android smartphone and an iPad. One for work, one for communication and one for entertainment. Yes, there is cross-over and when I am not at my desk the smartphone sort of fills in for the other two, but my biggest issue was getting the smartphone and the PC to synch now that everyone tells me to "keep it all in the cloud". I don't do that. I am responsible for my own data, thank you very much. I missed the ease with which Palm did that, but it has just meant that I need to have a different PIM on the smartphone so that I can still synch with my PC. Not a problem, just an expense (and not too big an expense at that).

Some people want everything in one place (and/or in one OS) and it is good that they can do that, but for those of who don't, we still have an option. I've never had a Blackberry, but I know that I could (since I am sure that there are ways to make it work the way I want it to) and I am glad that they are still a going concern as competition is generally a good thing in itself.

And, as a final note, funny how they have become TCOKARIM and LIM* these days - how the world changes!

*For anyone of tender years, previous incarnations of TCOKARIM were so fond of patent litigation that that were referred to as Lawsuits In Motion by El Reg. This was something Apple and Samsung saw as a market they wanted to capture - which they have done quite successfully.

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I just want a tasty looking smart phone with a REAL qwerty keypad AND a touchscreen, BlackBerry Q10 come on down! Not bothered to upgrade my old BlackBerry Curve for 2 years, so I'll wait for the Q10 in April.

"You can't trust, man, woman or beast boy, 'points to the BlackBerry Q10' THIS YOU CAN TRUST!"

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Go

Doing the same!

The iPhone magic for me is starting to lose it's appeal as updates from the fruity based company are becoming smelly and dirty. Nothing fresh, nothing that engages the user and is simply ignoring what customers want (or aren't coming up with new ways that customers thought they'd never need).

I love the Z10 by playing with it, but the next Blackberry 10 software update (which I assume will appear at the time of Q10 release) might be mature enough for me to engage and drop iOS as a mobile platform. Apple's problem is keeping iPad/iPhone/iPod all together and the introduction of the iPad has taken an impact on the iPhone's presence. I still love the iPad and my MacBook as productive devices, but reliability and something that's communication centric has become more important. I think the iPhone and any Android device had lost that by putting application first (taking the ball off kernel/radio firmware development).

I think Google will get a nasty surprise with BB10 gets it's next software update out and the possibility of licensing BBM to co's as a communication tool (with MSN going, Skype becoming a fat video-calling tool and not many other secure options). The money could soon be rolling in and Blackberry back in business.

Nice to see a balanced article on BB10 and fandroids staying away.

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Re: Doing the same!

I'm tied in to an android, (via an iphone) but do miss the BB I used to have, so will be interested to see how it pans out with a view to upgrade when I've shaken the shackles of my s3 contract.

That said, the Playbook is currently excellent value (£99? 64gb? Yes please!) and due to see the new OS, so might be a cheap way to have a play without committing to phone contract.

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Re: Doing the same!

"The iPhone .... Nothing fresh, nothing that engages the user and is simply ignoring what customers want (or aren't coming up with new ways that customers thought they'd never need)."

That's what happens when a company becomes an established corporate, rather than a disruptor. Back in 2007 the iPhone was novel and disruptive. The iPad was novel and disruptive. You can only guess whether the rumoured iWatch will be novel and disruptive, although personally I won't be in the queue.

Go back a few further years, and Nokia was clever and disruptive in its own more modest way (eg the 5800 "comes with music" which was almost a cloud based music service before the evil "C" word was even thought up, or the mass of good, functional dumb phones that nobody else seemed to be able to touch). Dell were (in the PC space) once innovative and disruptive - but looks like they'll retreat to being a me too outfit offering enterprise services against HP (themselves once an innovative and disruptive company).

At the moment, I think the "innovative & disruptive" crown belongs to Google, who launch loads of ideas, some great, some rubbish, and drop the ones that don't catch on. History shows that no company holds the crown on an eduring basis, and that very few companies consistently regain that title once they lose it, and that has implications for many of the companies in this space - Blackberry, Apple, Google. Interestingly it probably doesn't much apply to Samsung (HTC, LG or other OEMs) because they don't have much distinctive retail-valuable IP. I love my SGS2, but I don't think there's much that is innovative or disruptive that Samsung added. Whilst that means Samsung will never be as valuable as Apple, it also probably means that their share price can't fall as much as Apple's eventually will.

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Happy

Re: Doing the same!

@Ledswinger - At the moment, I think the "innovative & disruptive" crown belongs to Google, who launch loads of ideas, some great, some rubbish, and drop the ones that don't catch on. History shows that no company holds the crown on an eduring basis, and that very few companies consistently regain that title once they lose it, and that has implications for many of the companies in this space - Blackberry, Apple, Google. Interestingly it probably doesn't much apply to Samsung (HTC, LG or other OEMs) because they don't have much distinctive retail-valuable IP. I love my SGS2, but I don't think there's much that is innovative or disruptive that Samsung added. Whilst that means Samsung will never be as valuable as Apple, it also probably means that their share price can't fall as much as Apple's eventually will.

Woah there! Google's Android hasn't been innovative and disruptive since the first release. It played catchup until there was enough polish on the turd (the first official release of Android was a big fat turd) to pull in customers. Innovative and disruptive goes to the OEMs who took it, and added a layer of wax with their own skin and made the hardware look more attractive in terms of size.

I do see Blackberry being the next disruptive and innovative company if they can pull off the BB10 release with some impressive sales/handsets. They've taken some huge influences from WebOS (which should of been second to iOS) and made it even better.

Keeping my eye on the Q10 release date!

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Too late for my employer. There are only a handful of us still on Blackberry, due to carrier. Even when most everyone still used Blackberry, no one used BBM.

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Unhappy

Interesting

Most of the plus points in the article related to BBM. Take that out of the equation and....

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Boffin

"Company Once Known as RIM"

COK as RIM

brilliant!

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WTF?

Don't know how you write a BB vs rest article without using "keyboard"

As a corp admin (140 BBs) if it wasn't for the rest of the "smart"phone world's refusal to recognise USER choice by refusing to look at movable or fixed physical keyboards and given RIM's decision to reinvent the BES wheel with BDS/ActiveSync forcing new expenditure on mobile device management either way, we might have gone to WinMo or iOS already. (Sorry Android, but you let a licencee create world-write permissions to get a camera working for gods sake). While we have kicked the tyres on Z10 the question here is: does Q10 bring it or do we look at some sort of iPhone + other-thing-with-a-keyboard device mix.

The productivity our firm gets from mobile devices is almost completely about email, with calendar and phone after that and the rest trivial. BBM is purely for personal (as demonstrated by it being on the "Personal" side of Balance because RIM didn't want to challenge Enterprise IM partnerships). Keyboards let the email maniacs bang out huge quantities of client contact - i.e. billable stuff. Of the tens of thousands of apps that are in apps stores only tens have any real benefit to a corporation rather than providing warm fuzzies to those who have mingled their personal data into their work environment (thus Blackberry Balance).

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Re: Don't know how you write a BB vs rest article without using "keyboard"

"Of the tens of thousands of apps that are in apps stores only tens have any real benefit to a corporation rather than providing warm fuzzies to those who have mingled their personal data into their work environment (thus Blackberry Balance)."

Excellent point. If I see one more person scream about the millions of apps in the iTunes Store or Google Play, I think I might just throw up. The same ten apps copied by 500 different suppliers/developers is still just 10 apps! I had programs on my Palm (before they were called apps) that I still can't find for my Android smartphone - although I am sure they might be out there if I can only wade through the thousands of (cr)apps that clutter the place up first.......

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Re: Don't know how you write a BB vs rest article without using "keyboard"

Hear hear. I don't know where the assumption that most punters want a touchscreen (I use the term to mean 'keyboardless') phone first sprung from; maybe the success of the iPhone led everyone else to believe that the touchscreen was the only form factor that people wanted. It's certainly not a market-tested assumption, because there's never been a relatively even spread of competing touchscreen and QWERTY phones available. Off the top of my head, the only QWERTY Android I can remember being widely(ish) available was the HTC Cha Cha, and even then it wasn't offered by all service providers, or on PAYG. Samsung had something called the Galaxy Pro, but you would never have known it existed given that the marketing budget for it was probably around the zero mark. For almost a year now I've been waiting for a very nice-looking device called the Galaxy Chat, but there's still no UK release date, and I've been forced to buy a touchscreen phone as an interim solution. Trouble is, I suspect my purchase of that interim touchscreen simply adds to the misconception that everyone wants to buy a touchscreen. If QWERTY phones were widely available and received even half the advertising push their touchscreen cousins are given, I'm certain that manufacturers would uncover a significant hidden market.

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Black berry has allready lost

If my work is anything to to go by iPhone and Android have taken over with demand for android integration going through the roof

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Facepalm

Re: Black berry has allready lost

Your spelling has lost me already.

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