The New Year always chimes in with the debut, unveiling or launch of new gadgetry as the tech community flocks to Las Vegas for CES. This is usually the time the big players tend to make big announcements that could shape the technology segment for the year. This year RIM, after a long slump, is gearing up to make an announcement that we were expecting much earlier, but better late than never. The coming of BlackBerry 10 is almost upon us and judging by what we’ve seen and experienced so far, I believe, this could most certainly be the Canadian company’s big come back.
The new OS has been in the making for a while now – since November 2012. We’ve heard and seen it all – leaked screenshots, leaked photos of potential BB10 devices, specifications creeping up out of the woodwork etc. Speculation and expectations have reached a fevered pitch as RIM readies itself for the big launch of what could possibly be the OS that Microsoft should be wary of.
RIM's timing could not be more appropriate if it wanted to make a statement. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is also vying for a spot in the top 3 and although it has its strong points, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. With BB10 also gearing up to get into the running, WP8 will have its work cut out for them. Perhaps it will inspire Microsoft to make the few necessary alterations to its set up. We can only hope.
RIM’s new strategy for this launch is well laid out. It intends to capture the market with the launch of at least three devices on the new OS, including those with a physical QWERTY keypad for those who prefer the old school look. Of course, we’re all hoping that at least one of these three devices is reasonably priced.
An all new OS battle will begin
Where it has the true potential to cast a shadow over WP8 its focus is on strengthening app development for the platform – something that WP8 didn’t seem to have a detailed outline for. RIM's game plan is to launch BlackBerry 10 with at least 70,000 apps ready and waiting for eager consumers. It has gone as far as to also make porting an easy task keeping developers happy as well. If it has learnt anything from past errors, i.e. devices that came before, RIM will choose the most relevant apps of today and make absolutely sure that these are available at launch or by the time the devices are packaged and ready to hit the shelves.
The Windows Phone OS might be an interesting option with devices like the Lumia 920 and its superb camera or the HTC 8X and its edgy design, and RIM has taken this into consideration. From what we’ve seen in the initial images, the upcoming BlackBerry Z10 smartphone looks sleek and quite stylish. If RIM's new Timeshift camera on the Dev Alpha device proved to be as intuitive as it did, we’re expecting the retail model to be much better. It’s already being compared to Samsung’s camera on the S III. The all-new Webkit browser is being touted as the best one yet for HTML5 (check out our tests here), which is another reason for WP8 to worry seeing as the IE browser option on their platform had quite a bit going for it.
Both operating systems are simplistic enough in UI and quite user friendly. However, BB10 seems to have employed the best of both reigning operating systems with a simple grid styled layout on multiple pages like iOS, a drop down menu system with access to settings and options like Android and swipe/gesture type control for access to everything. If you’ve ever used Android or iOS, it’ll not be too hard to figure out. It’s also possible that RIM might further tweak the OS before launch to make it even more gesture supportive than it already is.
Tie all that up and bundle it with what we’re expecting to be a well-planned set of apps available at launch, at hopefully better rates than what BB was able to offer before, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. BB10 seems to want to make a big enough impact at launch so as to hit the ground running giving it an ever so slight edge on WP8. So far, things are looking quite impressive for the Canadians and they’ve got a real shot at stepping in a line ahead of the Windows Mobile platform. Either way, the game will get more interesting post January 30 and I for one am curious to see just how intense it gets this year.