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No BB10 FOR YOU!!
I’ve been a proud supporter of Blackberry for years, I’ve had a 7100 from way back, a pearl, a curve, a torch and most recently a Playbook. All my Blackberry phones have done what they were designed to do; communicate efficiently and effectively. They didn’t really do a whole lot more beyond that with the old java based OS, there were a few apps and games, but nothing spectacular and the damn hourglass would piss you off before you even had a chance to use the app. Then came the Playbook. Oh glorious Playbook. An OS to put Blackberry on par with Apple and Google. Blackberry’s saving grace….or so we thought. The Playbook OS is based on the QNX operating system, a system that is used for numerous functions from nuclear power plants to certain parts of the international space station. The BB10 OS is also based on the QNX operating system and essentially an evolution of the Playbook OS. The playbook was a greeted with a media frenzy of negativity when it first launched, partially because it launched without the three things Blackberry’s are known for: calendar, contacts and EMAIL in the form of native applications, the only way you could use these is by “bridging” a blackberry phone to the tablet. What made it worse was its price point, which has recently been reduced severely (Almost $500). The native application issue was cleared with OS 2.0, so all good then no? Nope. OS 2.xxx series of the Playbook brought more features, but it still was not enough. A tablet is mainly a media consumption device, people use them for reading books, watching movies and communicating with loved ones via email, chat or video. The Playbook can do all these things, but it can’t do it the way that other tablets can. Don’t get me wrong, it does things other tablets can’t do either, like multitask properly and play flash video but there are a huge lack of apps from major publishers (There are plenty of games though). For one, a huge gaping hole is the lack of a Netflix app, from the beginning Netflix has said they will not make an application for Blackberry and its obvious why as the sales are not there, yes Blackberry sold millions of their old Java based OS phones which couldn’t support a Netflix application if life on earth depended on it. But BB10 is the new kid on the block, with under 3 million shipped last quarter and a couple million Playbooks out there, a content provider has to consider the money they have to put up vs the subscriptions they can generate from an application on that platform.
Another missing app that boggles my mind is Skype. I know that I’m stepping into cliches here because both Netflix and Skype have been mentioned numerous times but they are necessary and essential apps for some people. I for one watch Netflix daily, Skype…never, but I can see how this would be a must have application for a so called “communications device.” But with BB10 one can breathe easy, Skype is available in the app store, Netflix and Instagram are sideloadable and useable, most apps can either be downloaded from appworld or “sideloaded” by converting an Android application, as BB10 supports Android applications running in a virtual machine inside the OS. So I’ll ask again…whats the problem? The problem is, people like me, who bought a Playbook expecting BB10 to come over as an upgrade were severely disappointed when it was announced last week that it wasn’t going to happen ever. This is something that was promised from the launch of the Playbook, needless to say every Playbook user was up in arms because they had been lied to, bought a product based on future promises from a company that eventually could not deliver. While the Playbook OS and BB10 are based on the same thing and are basically one in the same, they do not work alike. You can still side load Android applications on Playbook, but a lot of apps do not work (NETFLIX/SKYPE/INSTAGRAM). But since I am still a fan of Blackberry and a shareholder (full disclosure) I think it would be good to look at this from both sides of the argument.
From one side it’s a 2 year old device, with specifications that aren’t up to speed with the new OS completely. You would have people complaining about the reduced performance constantly and that brings the cost of more support staff and pretty much rebuilding the OS specifically for a tablet that can’t run it properly. Now do you really expect a company that’s trying to get its position back in the Smartphone market is going to waste their time in the relatively young tablet market which they have no experience and no advantage in. The iPad dominates the high end of the market, and low cost android tablets have taken over the low end it makes no sense for Blackberry to waste time and resources on a two year old product that they lost millions on in the first place. From the point of the consumer I agree that management failed miserably when communicating this, and sadly they’ve failed miserably with every step of the Playbook project, maybe its best to just let the thing die.
They promised for months that BB10 would be coming to Playbook and at the last minute, pulled that back saying the performance wasn’t up to snuff. Now I don’t disagree with the decision but why get peoples hopes up unnecessarily when you’re already in a horrible position in the market? Blackberry 10 will see another tablet, but not right away and maybe that’s best, I think by them refining the OS for phones and tablets eventually it will no doubt lead to tablets. It’s a well made and very intuitive OS and will only get better. But its definitely time for management to wake up and start being honest with consumers, instead of promising something that could potentially not be delivered, just say you’re evaluating the options. Jeez just tell us you don’t know, but don’t make promises that will end up being broken, it only sullies the brand. I can bet that the people that bought a Playbook expecting an upgrade because it came from the CEO’s mouth will think twice before purchasing their next Blackberry device, and that’s just a sad truth. I can only hope that Thorsten Heins and the rest of the upper management team can get in touch with their creative sides and figure out how to do this properly, for the sake of the shareholders and more importantly the consumer.