While the tech world has had a few tantalizing peeks at Research in Motion’s new Blackberry 10 operating system over the past several months, the struggling Canadian mobile company unveiled more than ever before at this week’s Blackberry Jam conference in San Jose, California. As one might expect, for a company known for its persistent inability to innovate much of the talk this week has been on revolution, RIM’s attempt at radically altering the mobile world as we know it.
Much like Microsoft’s original Windows Phone 7 pitch we heard last year, RIM is advertising the new Blackberry 10 OS as a way to free you from your smartphone. Its simple and straightforward, offering a similar tiled home screen experience that we’ve seen on WP7 phones to date, with features like ‘Flow’ and ‘Peek’ designed to ease the user navigation experience.
But despite all the talk about shifting paradigms and mobile revolutions, there’s been a distinctly familiar air to what I’ve been hearing out of the conference, leading me to echo the words of CNET writer Casey Newton ,that while the Blackberry 10 is a fresh new sleek look for RIM, its oh so misguided.
While hiccups with the much ballyhooed user interface no doubt left RIM with some egg on its collective face, the most serious issue for the company wasn’t the lack of OS polish—CEO Thorsten Heins went out of his way to remind attendees that Blackberry 10 is still a work in progress—but the focus of the entire Blackberry 10 project…enterprise.
As both Apple and the Android ecosystem work diligently to engender their respective brands to the consumer public, providing the entire impetus for the paradigm shifting BYOD movement that RIM seemed incapable of responding to, RIM seems steadfastly committed to providing uninteresting enterprise features. Consider the development of the ‘Balance’ feature, one that allows users to create unique profiles for work and personal life so that sensitive work information doesn’t accidentally follow you home. Sure it’s something IT departments will be salivating over, but certainly not something that the average consumer is going to care about.
Granted its hard to blame RIM for wanting to return to its enterprise roots, given that the company has built all its past success on providing the business world a safe, functional, and highly effective mobile tool, but remember it was this same stubborn focus on the business world that put RIM into this nosedive to begin with.
In fact, despite the sleek new feel to Blackberry 10 it seems like RIM has almost completely missed the boat yet again, presenting nothing in the way of cloud features; evidence that coupled with the stark denial of the BYOD movement shows RIM still has no idea where the mobile market is heading or how to get there.
While its abundantly clear that RIM is reading from Microsoft’s mobile playbook, its Blackberry 10 OS likely to experience the same slow adoption of WP7, the difference is that Microsoft was on its way into the mobile market with WP7, while RIM is clearly on its way out with Blackberry 10.