Is RIM on the right track with what they showed?
The message was clear to all attendees of BlackBerry World 2012- RIM’s annual gathering of employees, partners, developers and media. BlackBerry 10 will deliver all that it’s promised to deliver and on time, this time around, which is set for the later part of this year. RIM’s recent CEO Thorsten Heins took stage and showed us a tiny glimpse of what is expected out of the new OS and I must say that I walked away impressed by what little he showed.
Just a few days back, I had written an article on what RIM needs to show us with the BlackBerry 10 platform so lets find out how well RIM did. Let’s start with the official video clip posted by RIM on their YouTube channel that shows some of the features of the BlackBerry 10.
Impressive right? Now let’s tackle the questions I had put forth and find out what was answered.
Gorgeous UI that is different
I’ll give RIM a thumbs up on this one. The UI is extremely stylish and from what little I saw, different that iOS and Android. The task switching pane reminds me of Meego found on Nokia’s N9 whereas swipes and rounded-corners for applications take a page out of Palm’s WebOS. We still don’t know what the main/home screen will look like but I certainly like the flow of applications.
Smooth and Snappy
One of the things that Thorsten mentioned in an interview session with the press is the thing he was most excited about was how smooth and snappy BlackBerry 10 is shaping up to be- no more hourglasses or lags. The video and the live demonstration of the unit showed it to be fairly capable and with the rest of the year left to optimize, I am going to give RIM a thumbs up on this as well.
The start of the video shows the Universal Inbox that BlackBerry is famous for and the Accounts tab selected at the bottom so expect the same Social integration that is part of PlayBook and hopefully some more. With Gist as a part of RIM now, I think this will be a no-brainer so another thumbs up for RIM
While the quality/specs of the camera were not revealed, what was revealed was the application that looked very much like what we saw from Scalado at Qualcomm’s iQ event. Here is a video of Scalado demonstrating exactly what we saw at the keynote
RIM confirmed that they have indeed licensed the technology from Scalado in a statement posted at TechCruch.
RIM has been working with Scalado on camera technology and has licensed some of the Scalado technology for the BlackBerry 10 platform. As shown during the BlackBerry World Keynote, RIM is planning a unique implementation of the technology on BlackBerry 10 to provide an incredible user experience, allowing for more customization by the user and enabling them to easily capture and share their perfect moments.
This means good things, and I’m pretty sure that RIM will pair the incredible software with the hardware it deserves. So another thumbs up.
Apps, Apps and More Apps
There were close to five thousand people that attended BlackBerry World 2012 and a good number of them were developers- each of whom is going home with a BlackBerry 10 Alpha Dev device. This will certainly give RIM a lot of traction by the time their OS is released and allow for a fairly featured App World at launch.
However, we did not hear about any partnerships with big companies like Skype/Microsoft or Amazon/Kindle. For RIM to succeed with BlackBerry 10, they need to get the heavy-weights behind them as no matter how good of a platform they build, Apps are what matters to end-users and the lack of popular apps will make the general user turn away.
In closing, I mentioned that RIM will not abandon a hardware keyboard as that is one of their primary strengths and Thorsten confirmed that they will launch a BlackBerry 10 device with a hardware keyboard. That being said, the innovation that RIM is bringing to soft-keyboards was one of the highlights of the videos you saw above and probably the feature that impressed me the most about BlackBerry 10. Swiping up to complete works and back to delete them makes using a soft keyboard with one-hand extremely impressive.
In closing, Thorsten mentioned that there are plenty of surprises that RIM has yet to show with BlackBerry 10 and considering that the devices are still a good quarter or two away, I can understand that he did not want to give the competition any more ideas by showcasing what else they have.
Of course the biggest challenge for RIM is making sure they survive the next few months by the time BlackBerry 10 is released. While things are looking good for them in the Middle East, other parts of Asia and South America, they are losing share in the US market which tends to produces the most vocal critics.