Why Blackberry 10 Benefits from a lack of a Physical Keyboard
DISCLAIMER: I AM WELL AWARE THAT THE N-Series/N10/X10/whatever IS BEING RELEASED TOO. HOWEVER, IT'S NOT LAUNCHING BB10.
Ever since the introduction of Blackberry 10 as BBX and their Dev Alpha devices, people had already been pondering key questions about Blackberry 10. Many loyal users were already asking questions such as "Where did the keyboard go?", "Why are there no buttons?" and "Will RIM succeed". These aren't unreasonable questions, but they also shouldn't go reasonably unanswered. RIM, with such a business opportunity and brand name at stake, made a smart decision in going all out into touch and gesture implementation.
The first thing we must take note of is that RIM is reimagining itself. They've resigned their old CEOs and replaced them with a much more capable Thorsten Heins. There has also been a lot of reorganization within the company itself, getting rid of awkward positions that had two people on a job that really required just one. They've made a leap from the old Blackberry 7 and below software which was built for touchpad, to the completely new QNX kernel already implemented in the Playbook. They acquired several major purchases, QNX being one of them, and The Astonishing Tribe (major designers of Meego) being the other. They've even started calling themselves Blackberry and Research in Motion is tucked away into the background.
RIM bought the Astonishing Tribe in 2010.
Blackberry really needs to develop a new image. They need that image in order to succeed. If they had stuck with their tried and true formulas of yesteryear, they'd be dead in the water. Why? Because nobody would buy a keyboard model which was reminiscent of BB7, a lackluster OS in today's generation of smartphones. Because it would look like so, many would naturally assume Blackberry had not changed.What they needed was something unique, and that's where their new model comes in. We already know the new models are going to be full touch, lacking a physical keyboard as well as buttons. This completely differentiates themselves from the old Blackberry, a company reluctant to change and reluctant to step ahead and do something completely different. Nobody would've really expected such an effort from Blackberry, especially not with such good hardware.
A New Blackberry
It all began with this...
So what's so important about the touchscreen and gesture based OS itself? Well for RIM, it means that can force their users to adopt a new paradigm, yet letting Blackberry stick to what they already know. It also forces users to accept that this isn't Blackberry as they knew it, it's something completely new. On Blackberry's side, they had already released a gesture based OS with the Playbook in 2011. Ever since they have been refining it. Blackberry simply took their experience and knowhow with QNX, and stuck it into BB10. Essentially what they did was cram Playbook hardware into smaller device, add a phone , some polish, a new UI, and voila, Blackberry 10. In fact, the Dev Alphas originally ran a version of Playbook OS 2.0. What they did with the code was make it feel and look like something almost completely different, but still familiar to those who were used to the swiping and offscreen gestures of the Playbook.
Today, Blackberry is on the verge of revealing their new devices. They look something like this:
And to be honest, this looks like really decent hardware. It might make people ask if this is real life, or is it just fantasy hardware they're staring at. With that being said, Blackberry is rumored to be launching a slew of 6 BB10 devices, so people caught in such the landslide of these devices may not believe that this could be a reality from a company such as RIM.
Moving onto slightly more unrelated things, some people may ask what the whole deal is with the giant bezel on the device. Unlike devices from other companies, the bezels in Blackberry/RIM's hardware are real, working physical bezels. This means that they do actually sense things in the bezel. It's why off screen gestures feel a lot more reliable than say, Windows 8, Android, or iOS. You can wake the phone up from sleep by swiping up from the bezel, in fact.
Now this piece isn't about the OS itself. That will be revealed all tomorrow. This is about the hardware, several opinions on the decisions RIM had made, and why the lack of sticking to what's tried and true benefits in Blackberry's favour.
Any thoughts, comments, or feedback would be welcome.
p.s. Yes I worked that into there on purpose.