Blackberry’s woes have been well documented over the past couple of years. The company has seen its market share collapse globally in a number of key areas, with consumers flocking to more fashionable and user-friendly devices such as the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
So the company released its Blackberry 10 operating system in January, with the express aim of bridging the gap with its rivals. Interestingly, Blackberry seems to have taken direct influence from its competitors: the ‘apptrinsic’ layout of the operating system is similar to what both Android and iOS offer, while the ‘Active Frames’ on the Blackberry 10 homepage closely resemble the ‘live tiles’ that Windows 8 has been rightly acclaimed for introducing. Not that Blackberry would ever admit it.
The new Blackberry Z10 also sees a move away from the company’s heritage, with the QWERTY keyboard replaced with a touchscreen. Indeed, the keyboard’s retirement – which has become synonymous with the company and its popularity among business users – shows Blackberry has plans to appeal to the mass smartphone market rather than one particular demographic. That said, the company do offer another device, the Q10, which does include the old keyboard as a sop to its traditional user base, particularly within the UK, Canada, and African markets such as South Africa and Nigeria, where Blackberry is seen as a ‘status symbol’ and the most popular smartphone operating system among consumers.
Blackberry’s real test will come from within its app store. Both Google and Apple currently offer over 750,000 apps each in their individual app stores, while Microsoft are some way behind with 100,000 apps available. Latest figures suggest Microsoft’s Windows Store in particular has seen growth slow to a near standstill. Indeed, it will be hard for Blackberry to compete against these three competitors, with Sky already announcing that they will not launch a Sky Go app for Blackberry 10 users anytime in the near future.
Yet Blackberry’s development over the coming year will be intriguing; will its latest offerings really bear fruit or will it continue to wither on the vine?