If you haven’t noticed yet, the smartphone world is buzzing this week with the release of the new BlackBerry 10 handset. But this is no ordinary launch. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a new BlackBerry stir up so much interest since they first came onto the scene a decade ago.
So why such hysteria? For one thing, this has to be the most significant reinvention the brand has seen to date. BlackBerry maker, Research In Motion (RIM) has listened to what its fans around the globe have been asking for and worked incredibly hard at streamlining the smartphone experience for users. They are very, very excited about it. And they’re not the only ones, Intercity was given a sneak preview of the handset at RIM’s head office last week and to be blunt…it really is impressive. Even celebs like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross have joined the chorus of praise on Twitter.
The big headline for me though is RIM’s bold move to a new operating system: QNX. You may not have heard of it, but chances are you have used it. It’s found embedded in all kinds of places, like over 20 million cars and a plethora of healthcare gadgetry, supporting everything from mobile telecoms to on-board entertainment and navigation. NASA even uses QNX in space. If you’ve used the BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM’s business tablet, then you’ll be familiar with a device running on QNX.
BlackBerry 10 is better, faster, more user-friendly and cooler than any of its predecessors. The whole user experience is centred on accessibility, with innovative gesture-based controls throughout the system. After just a few minutes with this handset I was trying in vain to use the same swipe gestures on other smartphones. When it comes to web browsing, historically a weaker point for BlackBerry, the new handset has already been ranked as one of the best mobile browsing experiences out there (and better than some desktop PC browsers). In independent testing , it scored 20 per cent higher than anything out there at the moment (dedicated stat fans can see how it fares against Apple and Windows browsers here ).
So the user experience seems faultless, but what about RIM’s staple customer – businesses? I think IT managers will be queuing up for the BlackBerry 10 because the system gives you as much or as little control as you like. Depending on your business, you could have just a few restrictions or go for full control with multiple device management (MDM). Business emails have also been given a big refresh. Instead of directing data through RIM’s servers, new BlackBerry handsets will use ActiveSync, which can still be managed centrally by IT using BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. You can also use POP3 and IMAP for an easier email setup – another step from RIM to make this handset accessible to anyone.
Even with tonnes of handy business features, BlackBerry10 still gives users all the control they need with separate profiles for your business and personal life. You can switch between these two areas with the swipe of a finger so you won’t need to carry around separate devices any more. Another elegant solution to a common issue.
BlackBerry helped revolutionise the business world by putting emails on your phone back in 2003. Ten years on, in a market that has changed beyond recognition, the BlackBerry 10 is proof that RIM’s still got it.
The official announcement is at 3pm UK time and you can watch it here .