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Monday, 28 January 2013

What RIM needs to fix with Blackberry 10

Blackberry 10 (also known as BB10) is going to be unveiled finally to the world this week and I don't think since the launch of the PlayBook tablet by RIM has there been so much anticipation for a product launch from the Canadian smartphone manufacturer.

While the operating system software is built on a kernel similar to what we've seen in the PlayBook, it has been vastly improved if we go by what RIM has shown us publicly thus far.  The hardware though is another story.  RIM has been tight lipped about the hardware specifications and only told us that there will be a touch screen launched initially.

The hope is RIM has been listening to feedback of their customers over the last couple of years and apart from the obvious advances in UI that RIM is bringing to BB10, I hope they've managed to tackle the following nine points in the new generation of Blackberry devices:

Image: geardiary.com
1. Boot time - Anyone using a Blackberry device knows the frustration in waiting for their device to boot up.  Why does it take Blackberry devices that much longer to boot up than any other smartphone? Even on the Blackberry PlayBook, the boot times are much too long and if the operating system for BB10 is built on the platform that exists the PlayBook, I hope RIM has has found a way to  improve this on the new generation of devices.

2. No more pulling out the battery - The solution to any problem on a Blackberry device till now has been to open up the back cover, remove the battery and re-start the device.  I hope RIM finds a way of reseting the device without having to go through this arduous task in the future.

3. Freezing Screens - The whole reason the above two points mattered at all is that Blackberry devices tend to freeze more often than most other comparable smartphone devices on other platforms.  I don't know what the reason for these issues is (memory, processor, display, OS crashing, etc), but I do hope RIM has fixed this in BB10.

4. Better battery life - RIM was known for superb battery life.  That was until the Blackberry Bold 9900 was released and with it OS7.x.  The battery life on most Blackberry devices since then hasn't quite been as good as the previous generation of devices.  RIM is still better than many brands when it comes to battery life but what was once a USP has slowly diminished.  I hope RIM gets their mojo back and manages to get us a battery life that we were used to on previous generations of Blackberry devices.

5. Stop blaming WhatsApp - One of RIM's  excuses for poor battery life deterioration that I've heard in the last eighteen months from executives at the company and from their telecom partners has been to blame WhatsApp for bringing down battery life.  RIM needs to accept the fact that a lot of users have moved on from solely relying on Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and now use both platforms simultaneously.  They need to find a way to accommodate WhatsApp and stop thinking of them as a threat.  RIM needs WhatsApp as part of their ecosystem as BBM alone isn't the solution anymore.

6. Quality, not Quantity of Apps - RIM has boasted that they've got some 70,000 Apps on their BlackBerry World App Store.  This is impressive but its about quality - both in terms of the Apps you have available and how good the user experience is with these Apps.  There is no need for 50 weather Apps.  One or two good Apps does the job.  It is though about having Apps like Instagram, Flipboard, Google Maps, SoundHound available on day one and making sure the experience is as good as it is on iOS and Android.  A compromised UI or quality of App isn't going to win you any prizes.

7. Better App Store - The current App Store is cumbersome to say the least.  Having to re-start your phone when you update or download a new App is another annoyance.  Fix this please.

8. Better Touch Experience - RIM's track record with all touch devices hasn't been entirely encouraging till date.  I know this is an area they've recognized as been vital to the overall experience moving forward and the fact that BB10 is launching initially with an all touch device means RIM better have got it done right as they've bet their marbles on this.

Image: businessinsider.com
9. The Flashing Red Light - Smartphones are all about being connected anytime, anywhere and RIM has probably been at the forefront of this revolution as they've had data plans that ensure you're likely to use your Blackberry device when you're on the road.  The downside to this is that flashing light to indicate you've got a notification ensures you're never truly switched off, whether it be on a weekend, at night when the phone is on your bedside or when you should be enjoying family time.  With most devices you can change your settings to that you download mails, etc. only when you want.  I hope RIM finds a way of allowing you to take control of the flashing red light and take control of your life again.

We all know the saying that a cat has nine lives.  I do hope RIM proves that they don't need to use their nine lives to stay in the business.  The above nine points if taken into account in BB10, will help ensure that the frustration that most users have tolerated till date disappear and anything new that BB10 delivers will be a bonus.  There is no point having a new operating system if these core issues continue to exist so RIM, I do hope you've listened, learned and will deliver.

Posted by: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics LLC