You probably have been hearing a lot about BlackBerry 10 lately. It’s the “make-it-or-break-it” chance that Research in Motion(RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry smartphone, has at reclaiming its mobile greatness. The idea is to create a brand new QNX-based operating system to replace the Java-based one of current BlackBerry smartphones. This should allow for better memory management, better multi-tasking, more app compatibility, better interconnectivity with other devices, and lots of other good stuff. Beyond improving the operating system, however, RIM is now looking to create a paradigm shift in the mobile world.
But how did RIM get in this situation? Looking back at the introduction of the iPhone, Apple generalized the definition of the smartphone, empowering the average consumers with tools they never dreamed of using on a very mobile device. Behind in mobile gaming, third-party applications, and consumer eye candy, RIM struggled for relevance in the high-end consumer market it once dominated. This new concept of the smartphone seemed almost at odds with the function and design of the BlackBerry. During this struggle, RIM found itself looking in a mirror and was unsure of what it saw in its reflection. Was this a corporate company? Does the world really value the “BlackBerry philosophy” of productivity, communication, and security anymore? RIM dug deep, and came out with a new, and bold(no pun intended) vision of what the smartphone should be.
At the core of RIM’s beliefs, people should be connected. And it became clear that not only people had to be connected better, but apps as well. For example, say I wanted to time how long it would take me to run a lap, then convert the units to seconds, append it to an excel spreadsheet, and then share that file in a DropBox account. It is possible with most platforms. However, you are probably imagining it would require opening a bunch of applications and transferring the information from one application to another somehow. Starting to get a headache? Well, what if you could do it all within the SAME app without changing the experience at all? This is one of the main ideas behind BlackBerry 10, which RIM is betting on as the next generation of mobile computing.
While iOS and Android do connect apps to some extent, the connection is very forced and the experience changes between apps. For example, despite both being images, CD album covers and Facebook profile pictures are never linked without some convoluted method. The text from an email, tweet, BBM, Word document, text in a web page, or even a camera photo can’t be passed from app to app without copy and paste. In most cases, the calendar, contact list, messages app, mapping app, tasks, and memo pad don’t share any information even though they overlap in functionality quite often.
BlackBerry 10 is going to be different. The calendar app should know exactly who you’re going to see, what notifications they’ve sent you, when the meeting will be, where on the map your meeting is, how to get there, any notes or related documents you need, what you need to accomplish in the meeting, and any possible information you could ever need about that event. You won’t even have to leave the calendar application. Even applications by third-party developers can connect their apps to others using the very same framework, expanding their functionality automatically.
Even with more power under the hood, much more impressive games and applications, a touchscreen-optimized user interface, BlackBerry 10 is not the typical mobile touchscreen OS you’ve come to know. It’s matching the entertainment and gaming chops of the android and iOS-based smartphones, but taking connectedness to a whole new level with messaging innovation and an OS designed optimized for productivity.
With some soul searching, RIM has emerged with a clear goal in mind. Their new focus on connectedness in BlackBerry 10 runs parallel to their historic roots in making efficient communication tools. The task is a difficult one, but so is the situation they are in. After all, drastic times call for drastic measures. RIM is doing what few OEMs dare. RIM knows they cannot compete directly with Google and Apple and are instead carving out a new niche in the smartphone industry. By reimagining the smartphone and staying true to themselves, BlackBerry 10 could be one small step for RIM, and perhaps one giant leap for mobile-kind.