By Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman, SMB Nation; and Regina Ciardiello, Editor, SMB Nation
So what’s the buzz on BlackBerry 10? Is it a game-changer? The short answer is that I don’t know (YET). I’m a BlackBerry fan and, full with disclosure, they have been a huge supporter of SMB Nation for many years. I’ve used many of their products (and still do), so that’s why my hope is that the upcoming Jan. 30 launch of BlackBerry 10 will go down as one of the “Top 10 Tech Stories of 2013.” You might say that it’s too early to tell, with 2013 just beginning. However, we have been tracking outlets such as CNBC and others who recently revealed that Apple announced it was cutting its component orders for the iPhone 5 because of softer than expected sales. On the same day this was announced, interestingly enough, RIM (BlackBerry’s parent company) saw a rise in its stock price.
What is BlackBerry 10?
Simply stated, the BlackBerry 10 is a unique contribution to the smartphone mobility paradigm. Sure BlackBerry already has smartphones on the market (quite frankly the market it created). With the 10, BlackBerry is claiming an entirely new code base without inheriting a single line of code from its legacy OS. On the hardware side, the 10 boasts a full 4.2-inch touch screen with a front/back cameras and dual-core 1.5GHz processor. Add 1280x768 resolution at 356PPI, Bluetooth, WI-FI, 2GB RAM and microSD card support, and you have it.
Needless to say, as we get more comfortable with actually product, I’ll report back again on my findings.
Channel Partners Weigh in
To get a better idea on what our community is buzzing about prior to the BlackBerry 10 launch, we spoke with Henrique Reis, a Canadian-based MSP, who lives and works close the RIM headquarters. He shared the following assessment regarding BlackBerry 10 and RIM overall:
“As a managed service provider, we have been looking forward to the new BlackBerry 10 platform for some time. While other super phone providers have developed some beautiful products, the Blackberry 10 will be our preferred device,” Reis said. “The BB10 OS has been built upon the maturity and success of the QNX operating system. QNX has been around for decades and has a reputation for being extremely fast and secure.
Reis added that there are a multitude of videos on YouTube highlighting the BlackBerry 10, especially the elegance and features, apps and ease of use. “What really has us excited, as managers and administrators of our clients IT infrastructure, is the (BlackBerry 10) dual personality,” he said. “The system allows for a personal use profile as well as a profile for business use. The user can do whatever they like within the realm of their person profile, but business applications, email and data can be tightly controlled within the business profile.”
What is the “Net-Net” on BlackBerry 10 from RIM’s Bryan Lee?
This morning we had the opportunity to speak with Bryan Lee, RIM’s senior director, US B2B & Channel Sales, who took a break from preparing for the Jan. 30 launch event. Lee discussed the high points of the BlackBerry 10, and what it will mean for both VARs and SMBs. He immediately mentioned how VARs (and their SMBs alike) will appreciate the BlackBerry Fusion system, which is designed to allow companies to manage not only their employees’ BlackBerry devices, but also their Android and Apple phones.
Interestingly enough, Reis also noted the BlackBerry Fusion feature, and said he looks forward to being able to incorporate it for his SMB clients, with the release of the BlackBerry 10. “RIM always had a great mobile management system, called the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which allowed for simple administration of all BlackBerry devices,” he said. “Now, with the release of their BlackBerry Fusion system, a corporation can manage not only BlackBerry devices, but Apple and Samsung systems as well…it’s one administration tool to manage all the mobile devices in a company.”
Aside from BlackBerry 10 incorporating the BlackBerry Fusion solution, Lee also noted that another feature that will come with this device is known as BlackBerry Balance; this essentially allows you to separate your business content items from personal content items. “A lot of our customers are seeing tremendous value in this to allow the end user to keep work data secure and separate it from personal content,” Lee said.
Lee also discussed with us the BlackBerry World for Work function that will come with the BlackBerry 10. This new version of BlackBerry World is designed to allow users to manage installed work-related apps that have been designated by their administrator, or apps that have been recommended by the administrator for possible download. According to Lee, this solves the problem for administrators who have a need or “employees only” secure apps without having to place them in a public-facing app store.
Lee also addressed being able to give users the experience of accessing all email and text messages, social media updates and calendar events from one specific area on a smartphone. The answer to this issue also comes with the BlackBerry 10, and that is BlackBerry Hub, which will allow users to view their “hub” at any time by aggregated emails, text messages, notifications, calendar events and the like from one central spot or “hub” on the user’s BlackBerry 10.
When I asked Lee what led the BlackBerry R&D team toward the Hub idea, he said that it was based partly on research and customer feedback. “We have conducted a lot of research on who a typical BlackBerry user is, and we came to the conclusion that most are hyper-connected and heavy multi-taskers,” Lee said. “That being said, we took this into consideration, and therefore wanted to bring all of these things over to the platform, and build upon that experience.”
The BlackBerry 10 is scheduled to be launched on Jan. 30…check back here for more information as it becomes available.