Even though we’re a couple of years away from an actual legacy BlackBerry OS post-mortem, here are a few things that I won’t be missing about the mobile OS that defined smartphones. Unless you’ve been under-utilizing your device, you’ve probably acquired many of the same BlackBerry pet peeves as I have. Although it may seem that I’ve put together a BlackBerry shit list, It’s all stuff I’m glad the new platform won’t be inheriting because of good design.
1) Pulling the Battery
Any seasoned BlackBerry user knows that you’ve got to reset your device once in a while for things to run smoothly. Doing a battery pull has become a daily routine for me even though it’s much less of a problem on my memory-rich BlackBerry 7 device.
I also find it confusing for users that turning your BlackBerry off using the power button, doesn’t turn your BlackBerry off as much as it does put it to sleep.
Doing a full reset seemed to solve 90% of my BlackBerry issues, so I’m guessing I’ll be experiencing way less less phone issues with BlackBerry 10.
2) Installation Difficulties
If you’ve ever updated your BlackBerry’s OS or had to revive a “nuked” BlackBerry that’s had a JVM error then we’ve had exactly the same nightmare. I’m pretty good at getting tech stuff to work but the amount of times that my will has been broken by loading a new OS on a BlackBerry has been the same amount of times I’ve attempted loading a new OS on a BlackBerry.
3) App glass ceiling
If you’ve ever gone nuts with downloading apps on a BlackBerry you’ve probably noticed things like extra-long boot-up times and general multitasking issues. Though BlackBerry 6 and 7 devices could handle a lot more installed apps thanks to more memory, you can tell how taxing having lots of apps on your phone can be.
I get the feeling that years ago, someone at RIM offered a quote similar to Bill Gates’ famous “640K ought to be enough memory for anyone” but it probably sounded more like: “This new BlackBerry will be able to install up to 20 apps: more than anyone will ever attempt.”
I certainly don’t blame them for their lack of foresight, who could have guessed that the mobile app market would get this big this fast, or that people would naturally tend to collect apps. If the PlayBook offers any clues to how this will work on the new platform, you’ll only be taking a negligible performance hit when installing lots of apps on a BlackBerry 10 device.
4) BlackBerry Browser
Though it was pretty awesome having a webkit browser when it launched, the old BB browser leaves something to be desired.
The PlayBook browser is amazing and is one of the main reasons that people are talking about the BlackBerry 10 platform as potentially being a laptop killer. At home my PlayBook acts a bit like a spare laptop and I have no trouble imagining the laptop gathering a bit of dust with future PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 releases.
5) Porting and device fragmentation
For the few years RIM has been breathing new life into their smartphone platform by offering better hardware. Unfortunately this meant that early adopters of new BlackBerry handsets had to wait for their favourite apps to be ported to the new screen size and updated OS.
It’s tough for developers to put legwork into a port for a device that has less than a percent of market share. Early adopters of the Torch 9810 or the Bold 9900 know that it takes a few of months for all their apps to appear in App World.
BlackBerry 10 will work a bit differently in that it’s much easier to port apps from other platforms and the new architecture is less dependant on specific screen resolutions. RIM’s developer relations team has also done a terrific job in offering the right programs and perks to commit developers to porting before a big device launch. I can’t wait to see how many apps are available at launch for BlackBerry 10, I’m sure their final tally will impress anyone.
BlackBerry 10 launches in two weeks and It’ll be interesting to see how RIM executes their biggest launch in history. I’ll be paying particular attention to the carrier and retail channels because that’s where RIM has lost a lot of it’s lustre in the recent few years.
RIM has developed an advanced mobile platform, made some good long-term architecture decisions and have the apps to back it all up. Will these solid fundamentals add up to RIM growing their smartphone market share?