For the first time in what seems like ages, the BlackBerry is garnering positive press. Ever since its ill-fated attempt to produce an iPhone competitor with the BlackBerry Storm, the BlackBerry brand has been on the decline. It started slowly, but in 2010 it hastened to a free fall.
The BlackBerry 7 line of smartphones might have helped in 2009 or early 2010, but a 2011 release just wouldn’t cut it. Yet all might not be lost for the former titan of the industry. Its much-hyped BlackBerry 10 phones will get their day at the market, as all four carriers have committed to the platform, with three of them jumping on board at launch.
At CES this week all of the Big 4 — Verizon. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — stated their support for the platform. That will give BlackBerry every opportunity to show consumers that they are not all talk. For the past year they’ve touted the potential of BlackBerry 10, but haven’t gotten devices into consumers hands. In fact, early in 2012 they delayed the target launch date of BlackBerry 10 from October, 2012, to Q1, 2013. Now they have to prove to people that the device is worth the wait.
Some carriers were a bit more optimistic than others. T-Mobile seemed the most enthusiastic, perhaps because they have the most to gain from a successful BlackBerry 10 launch. They lag far behind No. 3 Sprint, and will remain there even if their proposed merger with MetroPCs goes seamlessly. AT&T sounded a bit more pragmatic, recognizing its large population of BlackBerry business users will want to remain on the platform. Of the Big 4, only Sprint didn’t commit to carrying the devices when they launch, but they will eventually be in the fold.
Getting picked up by the four major carriers was pretty much the only way BlackBerry 10 stood a chance in the marketplace. The iPhone has a cult following that will continue for as long as Apple makes products. There are others, too, who simply prefer the simple interface and syncing capabilities of iOS, pairing the iPhone with Apple desktops, laptops, iPods, and the iPad. Android has caught on in a major way, with Samsung making a huge dent in the market. Other manufacturers, such as HTC and LG, are creating strong offerings as well, while other players, such as ZTE, have spread the market from the high end to the low.
In addition, Windows Phone got a considerable head start on BlackBerry. The seamless integration between Windows Phone and Windows 8 for desktops and laptops can give the Microsoft phones a considerable advantage in the business marketplace, which is BlackBerry’s bread and butter. That means Research In Motion has an upward hill to climb in terms of convincing North America to adopt its new platform.
We’ll all get a closer look at BlackBerry 10 later this month. RIM has an announcement set for January 30th, with the phones launching shortly afterward.