Pearl, Curve, Bold, Z10, Q10, Passport.
If you’re a BlackBerry fan, then your phone collection might look something like this. Starting with the old Pearl with a trackball, you slowly matured and modernized your tastes until finally BlackBerry wasn’t doing it for you anymore.
It’s 2016, and the numbers speak for themselves, BlackBerry isn’t doing very well. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. Coming off the dominance of the early 2000s, the legacy BlackBerry operating system found itself outdone by the fancy new iPhone, with one of the first ever on-screen keyboards to maximize screen real estate. Fast forward a few years, and BlackBerry’s innovation fell short. BlackBerry 10 with its gesture controls, true multitasking, and plethora of other productivity-based features just didn’t make the cut and app developers flocked to iPhone and Android for their earnings. Fast forward a few years again, and it looks like BlackBerry might have a good idea. Looks like they’re finally acknowledging the need for apps, and going for gold with the all new BlackBerry Priv. That is until the pricing is released. With the BlackBerry Priv being close to $1000, many people are skeptical at best, especially with the mentions of the removal of BlackBerry’s hardware division, which would ultimately bring the device’s support down to null. With such a steep price tag, and expectantly low sales, is BlackBerry in a never ending downward spiral, doomed to follow the ways of other once dominant figures, such as Palm?
Until recently I’ve been a BlackBerry Passport user, but last month I switched over to Android, specifically to the LG G4. If I’m such a big BlackBerry fan, why didn’t I switch over to the BlackBerry Priv? To be honest, the pricing of the LG G4 (which I got on sale) was just too enticing to pass up. That compiled with the whole ‘Facebook debacle’ on BlackBerry 10 really left me wanting a change. However, all is not lost, there are still a few things that a new BlackBerry handset can do to win me over.
This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve got to mention it. I know that a lot of you out there are BlackBerry die-hards, and to be honest, if it weren’t for that whole ‘Facebook debacle’ then I’d still be using my Passport. However, switching to Android made me realize something. Almost everything I wanted to do on BlackBerry 10 was a compromise. Twitter and Facebook were not up-to-date, there were no Google Play Services, my Pebble needed a third-party solution, and the list goes on. Beyond that, I’ve realized that after getting my LG G4, how much I was missing out on. Seeing those iconic app badges on new companies and services with the “available on Google Play” text used to make me shrug and not even try. Now I can try out new things with a few taps, without worrying about Google Play Services, or performance issues.
BlackBerry 10 was a great operating system and I definitely miss the gestures, and the Hub. However, the sheer amount of content that I was missing is rather staggering. Experiencing native Android is almost like getting a smartphone for the first time.
Classic Physical Keyboard
Here’s a classic BlackBerry user request, a physical keyboard. Yes, I’m aware that the Priv has as physical keyboard, but having heard reviews and tried out demo units myself, I’ve discovered that it’s not very good in comparison to others that BlackBerry has produced in the past. Something similar to the Passport, with the same haptic feedback and proper key spacing would make a world of difference.
I know that I’m probably going to be attacked for this one, but I don’t like sliders. Don’t get me wrong, they’re cool and I see why people like them, but they aren’t for me. The mechanical sliding mechanism always broke in the old BlackBerry Torches and that’s enough for me to not want them. The less mechanical parts, the better.
This is probably one of the most important points from an economist point-of-view, new BlackBerry devices need stability. I don’t mean the traditional software kind, I mean in terms of a business model. With BlackBerry on the fence regarding its hardware division, it leaves me wondering whether it’s a good idea to get any BlackBerry device until that whole situation has worked out. I understand that Android will have better support than BlackBerry 10 once a device has reached end-of-life, but the fact that the entire division might be closing doesn’t make the plunge very enticing. I’d like to be able to become a fan of a device, and then upgrade to its various iterations as time goes on, rather than change manufacturers.
I’ve left this one for last because it’s a big concern for BlackBerry Priv enthusiasts. The BlackBerry Priv is expensive, very expensive. Yes it has high-end hardware, but I feel like they overshot this one. Many businesses are looking for something to fit into their budget, and having a device that you may need to deploy to several thousand employees, be a few hundred dollars more than normal is troubling. Not to mention the average consumer isn’t willing to pay that kind of money for a first generation product. Purchasing through the carrier is really the only way to go for the Priv, and since my carrier doesn’t offer BlackBerry products anymore, it’s a serious problem.
Recently John Chen has mentioned that a couple more mid-range devices running Android will be debuting sometime soon. Mid-range is probably exactly what the Priv should have been, it would have ended up being near the $0-$100 mark after carrier incentives, which is enticing for people who are the least bit curious about its unique design.
Whether you’re still on BlackBerry 10, jumped ship to another manufacturer, or a BlackBerry Priv owner I hope that we all have the same mentality. We want BlackBerry to succeed. In hardware, software, and services, without compromise, and without the threat of annihilation from the competition. Despite jumping ship, I’m not bitter, I’m hopeful for the future and I hope that someday soon I’ll be writing this on a BlackBerry device again.