BlackBerry's Most Important Phone Isn't Its Flagship

BlackBerry announced two phones yesterday, but it's clear which is the favourite son. The Z10 looks like a winner; it's got brains and body enough to face the iPhones and Galaxy S IIIs of the world head-on. It's got a release date and a price. It's a phone any company would be proud to call a flagship. In fact, its only downside is that it's totally irrelevant. Whoops!

The Q10 though? That's the device that makes BlackBerry matter again. Or sends it squealing into oblivion.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with making a highly competent touchscreen phone these days. But when you're playing from behind — and BlackBerry would be the first to acknowledge its position — good enough just isn't good enough. You don't need to look much further than Windows Phone's dismal sales for proof of that. If you already left BlackBerry for the iPhone's embrace, there's nothing about the Z10 that would make you go back. They look the same, they cost the same. They have slightly different features and a giant app gap. Bottom line: The only reason to switch to a Z10 is because your IT manager forces you to.

That's not fair, but it's reality. BlackBerry today is RC Cola or Whataburger or Subaru any other company that makes a less popular version of a wonderful thing. The Z10 might help BlackBerry stay in the margins, but it's not going to pull company to centre stage.

You know what could, though? The Q10 and its physical keyboard.

Quick, name one QWERTY smartphone you'd actually pay money to own today. Wait! Just kidding, it doesn't exist. There's a void there, and voids are opportunities. There are people in this world, business people especially, who miss their keyboard phones. There are corporate email freaks who would give up their suits and ties for something to accommodate their clumsy thumbs. And it's a need no one else is addressing.

And it's quintessentially BlackBerry, isn't it? A flawless typing experience — along with BBM — was the company's bread and butter for a decade. It's the siren call that might be enough to lure back old BlackBerry diehards, and differentiates the company enough that it might win a few converts. So far, it looks like it's good enough to live up to that potential.

Is QWERTY a niche market? Maybe. But it would be BlackBerry's niche to monopolise. There's money in that, and stability, and respect. All the things that have been missing in Waterloo since the iPhone came around.

Here's the bad news, though. There's no price for the Q10 yet, and no solid release date. It hasn't gotten much promotional love from the company that made it, and that desperately needs it to succeed. That needs to change. If BlackBerry's going to have any chance at all — and honestly, they may well not — they need to stop shining such terrifically bright light on its also-ran, and point it on the hero that's waiting in the wings.


Comments

    woah woah woah. hold your horses on the Subaru comment there buddy.

      Seriously, where did that come from...Subaru make a completely relevant product that stands in it's own right. Take the BRZ for example, which it does share with Toyota, but the engine and drivetrain are all classic Subaru.

        Settle down people, he said less popular, not worse. The point was Subaru make a high quality product that deserves to sell more than it does. Can't really argue with that.

          Yes, that's correct. However, he hints at the fact that Subaru's are on par with the competition, as he mentions that the Z10 is on par with the iPhone.
          Subaru however is above par in their fields.

        How many BRZ's have you seen on the road? How many 86's? I've seen a dozen or more of the latter and not a single example of the former, which makes the comparison abolutely spot-on. You should also be aware that Subaru does amazingly well here but is tiny in most other markets. In fact, a few years back Australia was Subaru's second biggest foreign market after the US, which is amazing given the tiny size of our market overall.

          And not to mention, from experience thus far, every subie driver is type A, aggro alpha baby wanker.....

          Just sayin!

            Actually, my main reason for liking Subaru is that every car they sell has a five star safety rating.

          Thats mainly because subaru australia barely wanted to sell the car here
          but yeah getting off track

    Need a landscape QWERTY phone... I've had a HTC Desire and an Xperia Arc, but I'd still go back to landscape QWERTY if it had decent guts.

      I loved the slide out keyboard on my HTC TyTn, if phones get any thinner they could add a slide out keyboard and still have them quite thin. OSKs are nice but sometimes they really piss me off, one reason im jumping ship to android starting with a tablet, better keyboards.

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