Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/31/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
TORONTO -- For BlackBerry fans who have been desperately hoping Research In Motion would get its act together and once again deliver a smartphone worthy of its old CrackBerry moniker, there's good news.
While the new BlackBerry Z10, the first smartphone to run the dramatically revamped BlackBerry 10 operating system, didn't exactly take the tech world by storm when it was officially unveiled Wednesday, it was widely reviewed as a respectable competitor to Apple's iPhone and the top phones running Google's Android platform.
BlackBerry fans who held out from buying a rival smartphone out of allegiance to Research In Motion -- which is changing its company name to BlackBerry -- can now get a mobile experience that's similar to using an iPhone or a top Android device but without giving up BlackBerry Messenger and all the other things they love about their phone.
But BlackBerry 10 does not "leap-frog" the competition, as former co-CEO Jim Balsillie famously -- and foolishly -- claimed it would back in the fall of 2011.
Although the operating system is impressive and keeps BlackBerry in the conversation about mobile innovation, the company still needs to do a lot more to firmly re-establish itself as a real player in the smartphone wars once again.
First impressions of the BlackBerry Z10 are good. It has a super-sharp 4.2-inch screen -- with more pixels per inch than the retina display Apple brags about -- and has a powerful-enough processor that browsing through screens, launching apps and browsing the web is satisfyingly fast.
BlackBerry fans, who tend to be the types who send a lot of emails, will love the virtual keyboard, which makes typing on a flat screen feel less torturous than on some other devices. Those who can't live without a QWERTY keyboard will just have to wait until April when the BlackBerry Q10 is expected to be released.
Another cool feature in the BlackBerry 10, includes a unified-inbox feature called Hub that merges the contents of several email and social-media accounts into one place.
The web browser is strong and even supports Flash (although it's turned off by default) unlike the iPhone and many other smartphones.
And while BlackBerry's selection of apps was once dire, more than 70,000 will be available at launch, including some 1,000 "top apps." These will include apps for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Kindle, WhatsApp, Angry Birds, Songza, Slacker, Rdio, NHL.com, CBC, Tim Hortons, Air Canada, RBC and ING Direct. But many will be disappointed Google Maps, Instagram and Netflix aren't available.
Many tech observers were surprised at how strong the BlackBerry Z10 actually is -- considering how many missteps RIM had over the years -- but it lacks a killer feature that encourages tech enthusiasts to drop whatever phone they're using and rush out to buy one.
Based on the product unveil, it seemed BlackBerry might have been more focused on retaining its loyal customers and cementing its position as the smartphone platform of choice for corporations, rather that trying to appeal to consumers.
BlackBerry Balance, a feature that partitions a phone into two modes for personal and work usage, will appeal to security-minded IT departments and got a strong push off the top.
The consumer-friendly announcement of pop star Alicia Keys as an ambassador for the brand didn't come until the tail end of the presentation.
Corporations that were drawn to the security of the platform, but felt compelled to seek out other options as the BlackBerry experience deteriorated over the years, now have less reason to experiment with deploying iPhones or other devices. All but the pickiest of users will likely be satisfied with the BlackBerry 10 experience and IT departments don't have to worry about managing a ragtag collection of devices.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 B5
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Build-first strategy bearing fruit
UN condemns terrorist oil sales from Iraq, Syria
Mall construction boom fuelled by wealthy
Trial in salmonella outbreak begins in Georgia
US companies increasingly fish for growth overseas
Medicare hospital fund to last 4 years longer
TransAlta to build new Australian power plant
US stocks fall at midday on cooling home sales
Red Lobster goes vertical on plate to push quality
Athabasca shares drop amid asset sale doubts
Atco, Canadian Utilities report lower profits
Dollar Tree steps up fight, buys Family Dollar
Grain mixed, livestock higher
Contracts to buy US homes slip in June
US stocks open mixed on Wall Street
RPM Intl agrees to $797.5M deal on asbestos claims
Lloyds bank settles with US, UK over market fixing
Zillow buying Trulia to build real estate titan
Argentina resumes negotiations to avert default
Australia company buys Nova Scotia LNG site
Virgin America files plans for IPO
Loonie up ahead of heavy slate of data
TSX in the red ahead of earnings data
EU antitrust body clears Apple's $3bn Beats deal
Tyson to sell Mexico, Brazil poultry operations
Japan to step up sanctions against Russia
Britain reopens way for fracking
Samsung postpones launch of Tizen smartphone
Meat supplier: China unit fell short of standards
Korean Air chief in line to lead Pyeongchang Games
5 things to know about coal trade, global warming
Russia ordered to pay $50 billion over Yukos
Nissan profit rises on strong sales, cheap yen
HK pro-democracy news site folds, citing pressure
US companies increasingly fish for growth overseas
Not in my backyard: US sending dirty coal abroad
Chinese portal Sohu reports $45 million loss
China profits boost Asian stock markets