BlackBerry's new smartphone launch in New York City on Wednesday wasn't magical or boisterous. CEO Thorsten Heins didn't use any superlatives like unbelievable, phenomenal, or awesome. And that's the point.
BlackBerry presented itself as a confident, business-focused company. Not overly proud -- it's hard to ignore the slide down to a 5 percent smartphone market share compared to close to 90 percent in 2008 -- but the launch didn't feel like an Apple or Google show. Tech pundits and high-profile users responded with their approval.
"I will go from two phones to one."
- Gary Doer, Canada's Ambassador to the United States
As Canada's tech giant and 26th largest company, BlackBerry has Ambassador Gary Doer's obvious support. But in our interview he spoke as a true fan of the product, not just as Canada's appointed diplomat in the U.S. "They had to leapfrog the competition. They didn't rush, they took their time," said Doer.
Security is at the top of any CIO's needs list, and this is BlackBerry's sweet spot. Since BlackBerry's Balance technology separates and secures work apps and data from personal content, public officials and execs can now use one device for both work and home.
"I'm done with the toy. It doesn't work well for business."
- BlackBerry launch attendee on replacing his iPhone
BlackBerry is getting knocked for having only 70,000 apps to choose from compared to iPhone's 750,000. But does anybody regularly use more than a handful of apps? The business crowd uses their smartphone as a productivity device, not a gaming center. It's all about speed and accuracy, and in these areas the new BlackBerry wins.
With multilanguage support and the ability to flick words offered up through a predictive text engine, typing is substantially faster. And the engine learns and adapts quickly enough to make typing faster than the iPhone. Faster than a keyboard? I think so.
Other features could be hit or miss like the HD movie editor, Story Maker. And despite the endorsement of Alicia Keys, BlackBerry's chances of catching up to iTunes are remote.
"We will be a leader in connecting you to your Internet of Things."
- Thorsten Heins, CEO BlackBerry
Research In Motion has put all its hope in this one product, so much that they changed their company name to BlackBerry. It's an acknowledgement to the market that if this fails, the company fails.
Will the BlackBerry 10 save the company? CIOs and their IT departments will like it. Heavy email users will like it. And they've checked enough boxes to appeal to the masses. But where the iPhone and Android are entertainment devices often used for business, the BlackBerry 10 is a business device that can also be entertaining. Time will tell if there's still a market for that.
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