BB10 may not be too little, but it’s definitely too late – Opinion

I’ve just got back from three sunny weeks abroad and in that time the biggest news that I seem to have missed is the BB10 launch. And I say big in the relative sense, as in nothing else really happened. From what I’ve seen online, BB10 actually looks quite nice. It has an interesting UI, seems more or less fully featured, and has competitive hardware. I’d love to have a play around with one and give it a proper testing.

But, (you knew there was a but!) it just doesn’t matter. I’ve said on more than once occasion on the podcast that BB10 could be better than Android, iOS, WP and WebOS all put together, and it simply wouldn’t matter. It’s 2013! The smartphone war has been decided, and BB was never in the running.

To understand why, take a look at Windows Phone. I always give it  hard time but I’ve owned three Windows Phones and have always liked the OS and the unique direction that MS tried to take with it. In my opinion, the main problems that it’s had are that it was too late (two years ago) and that MS was too slow with updates. Once a year is fine when your OS was launched in 2007, not 2010. It seems to have pretty much caught up with WP8, but until now it’s never felt quite finished to me.

And then there’s apps. The app problem always seems to get people angry. (IMHO) Windows Phone just doesn’t have the app support that it needs to really break through and be a success on the level of iOS and Android. And that’s despite MS actually paying developers to make apps for its OS. The situation has obviously improved hugely since launch, but there are still plenty of unplugged holes.

Now I’m not even saying that it needs 1,000,000 apps to properly compete. But it has to be in the running. Whenever something new launches, it inevitably comes first on iOS, possibly alongside and Android version. But WP is a distant consideration. And I say this as someone who often gets annoyed about the great iOS only apps which I see and want on Android. The best hope that BB10 has of getting these apps is through the Android emulator it offers, for  Gingerbread apps at least.

All that said, MS are slowly gaining traction with WP8 and particularly Nokia’s Lumia range. This is after two years and only god knows many billions of dollars of investment. Does anyone really believe that BB10 has two years to get up and running, let alone the billions of dollars? Most devs who wanted a free PlayBook likely have one by now, what other incentives does BB have to offer?

People have already invested their money in phones, tablets, apps and accessories. Is there a single reason for anyone to use BB10 over any other ecosystem? Is there even one killer feature that would make anyone want to switch? Do all your mates really still use BBM?! I love trying out new tech just for the sake of it, but most people just want to find something that works and stick to it.

There’s barely space for three ecosystems in the mobile world, let alone a fourth. Nokia understood this when they ditched (the highly promising) MeeGo for Windows Phone. It remains to be seen if Windows Phone was the right choice, but we know for sure that MeeGo wasn’t. BB should have likewise swallowed its pride and chosen an ecosystem to support, instead of investing more good money after bad.

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  • Martin

    Hi Ravi, welcome back. Too little, too late for BB? Maybe, maybe not. In my family we are all a 2 device lot, we all have a phone and a tablet. Mine are both Android, the wifes are both Apple and my daughter has an iPad and a SGS2. I would be quite happy to give up my Android phone and go BB or WP8, the wife would be quite happy to give up her iPhone and go WP8 (BB might be a step too far for her) My daughter is up for a renewal around iPhone 6 time and that is what she is angling at.
    My point, I hear you shout? We are all happy to move phones because App wise we all use our Tablets as our main device. The phones can be changed to another eco system as they are secondary when it comes to apps.

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure that your family aren’t alone, but I very much doubt they’re in the majority. I’m not at all saying that folks won’t be persuaded by this, but I do believe it’s a much smaller number than needed to make BB a successful platform again.

      I am not convinced most people think too far ahead when it comes to this stuff, but certainly locking myself into a platform by purchasing my apps on it would make me think twice about which platform I chose.

      Nonetheless, good luck to the BB lot, but a new platform is a risky business. Just look at Microsoft – they will continue to struggle to gain market share over the coming years because of the platform issue alone.