BlackBerry 10 debut bombs

Without exclusive apps, a standout camera or a breakthrough operating system, Research In Motion's bet-the-company offering looks like an also-ran.

By Benzinga Jan 30, 2013 4:19PM
Frustrated woman with mobile device copyright Jacqueline Veissid, Photodisc, Getty ImagesBy Louis Bedigian 

Over the past few months, media attention has shifted from Apple (AAPL) to Research In Motion (RIMM). The expectation was that RIM could make a comeback and turn BlackBerry 10 into the next great mobile OS. 

With RIM shares now trading down over 9% Wednesday afternoon, it seems obvious that many traders were not impressed with BB10's debut.

Two weeks ago we outlined five key features (see Benzinga) that BlackBerry 10 needed to accomplish that goal and conquer the iPhone. They included:

  • Exclusive and revolutionary apps
  • The world's best camera
  • Seamless controls
  • An operating system that changes everything
  • Genuine consumer appeal

Did RIM -- now simply known as BlackBerry (BBRY) -- fulfill those requirements?

Exclusive and revolutionary apps: Missing in action

Facebook (FB), Skype, Twitter and Angry Birds are among the apps BlackBerry promoted this morning. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of consumers already have access to them via iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Mac OS, Windows 8 and a zillion other platforms. Most of BB10's shiny new apps also appear on the eight-year-old Xbox 360!

Thus, no one -- absolutely no one -- will buy BB10 for new software.

World's best camera: Consumers will decide

Nokia (NOK) arguably stole the title for world's best smartphone camera when it unveiled the PureView, a 41-megapixel camera that allows users to zoom digitally without reducing the quality of their images.

If today's presentation is any indication, BlackBerry has not done anything to top Nokia's efforts. It may have developed some interesting software to go along with the camera (which allows users to edit photos and videos on the fly), but the camera itself seems to be pretty standard.

That said, if the software features -- which include image overlays to change the appearance of photos and videos -- are popular with consumers, they may not care if BB10 devices lack the best camera available.

Seamless controls: To be determined

If anything stood out this morning, it is the way users can interact with BB10. Mashable's Pete Pachal, who spent the last week using BB10, said that the phone can be a "real joy to use." However, he said that the new features "amount to learning curve that anyone picking up the Z10 for the first time may not have the patience for."

"In a world where most smartphone sales happen in a store, RIM's going to need some serious on-the-ground support for this phone for customers to really see the potential," he wrote. "I can see a lot of people throwing it down in frustration after the first 30 seconds."

This is just one man's opinion, however. The BlackBerry Hub -- which the company describes as a "single place to manage all your conversations whether personal or work email, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications" -- is fairly intriguing. This feature could help persuade consumers who want something different and/or more intuitive than Android or iOS.

Operating system that changes everything: Epic fail

There is no doubt that BlackBerry has put a lot of effort into the development of BB10. Unfortunately, that effort did not lead to the evolution of mobile operating systems.

To be fair, mobile phones have not experienced a major shift since the iPhone debuted in 2007. Android has done some great things, but iOS got there first. BB10 merely builds on what Apple created and what Android has refined. It does not, however, significantly change the world of mobile computing.

Genuine consumer appeal: Not yet

In his pre-launch assessment (see Benzinga) of BB10, Ovum Chief Telecoms Analyst Jan Dawson said that RIM "continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers."

"There is nothing in what we've seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM's control," he added. "We don't expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end."

Dawson's comments came before today's event. However, Mashable's Pachal (who reviewed the BlackBerry Z10) agrees that BlackBerry has a tough road ahead.

"For iOS and Android owners, BlackBerry 10 is a tough sell," he concluded. "That's why RIM's battle to reclaim relevance will likely be fought overseas, where smartphone penetration is low."

Critical assessments aside, BlackBerry has done absolutely nothing to genuinely inspire consumers to drop their existing phones for BB10. Not even a guy with a ponytail (see Benzinga) can change that.

Investors are no more impressed than the critics. Shares of RIM have plummeted today, signaling an end to the tech stock that had become Wall Street's new shining star.

More from Benzinga
Jan 30, 2013 11:30PM
Absolutely correct vancityman! You can tell the author(s) of the article have definitely been paid off or have some hidden agenda for this bowlful of hogswill. I smell Apple's hand in the writing of this. I am waiting for my first new Blackberry. I have held off on getting a new phone for months now but the time is getting close.
Jan 30, 2013 10:42PM
So long, Blackberry.  Can't say I'm sorry to see you go.  Hard to believe that RIM had such a huge head start in smartphones.  Unfortunately, they didn't know how to lead where the market was going.  Apple did.  Rather than focusing on corporate use, Apple went after the far larger consumer market.  We in IT had no choice but to implement it because that's what employees were buying.  We also hated implementing Blackberries.  To do so properly required convoluted enterprise software that was way too expensive and way too difficult to install and setup.  Palm and Windows were my preference but I couldn't keep users from buying iPhones.  And Apple got smart and quickly got their phones talking to Exchange. 
Jan 30, 2013 9:19PM
It was only a bad launch because I'm still creaking waiting to get it!they should have been in stores today
Jan 30, 2013 9:10PM

Barry will bail the company out, citing it's "too big to fail" status so the central state can seize a platform from which to unfairly compete with and tax the private sector.


mmm, mmm, mmm!

Jan 30, 2013 9:09PM
I want to see. feel,. try,  and get my questions, in a store, before buying.
Jan 30, 2013 7:57PM
Blackberry should just give up and sell out if they still can
Jan 30, 2013 7:43PM

I want buttons! not the flat screen that's why I use blackberry


Jan 30, 2013 7:28PM
I may have missed this in all that apps and other stuff, but can you call someone with this thing?
Jan 30, 2013 6:54PM
Too little, too late. Now it's Android, Apple and Microsoft. Who wants Blackberry? Dell or HP?
Jan 30, 2013 5:28PM
Yeah - Radio Shack tried changing their name to "The Shack" how did that work out for them ??
Jan 30, 2013 5:02PM
I Told you So ! Maybe next time you guys will listen !
Jan 30, 2013 4:55PM
so how much did u get paid by crapple to write this garbage?
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