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BlackBerry 10 announced. Does Windows Phone have something to fear?

Today, as expected the company formerly known as RIM has announced the availability of BlackBerry 10.

With two new devices, the Q10 (traditional qwerty phone) and the Z10 (traditional slab touchscreen) and an early global launch including all 4 US carriers by March, the Waterloo company has done an impressive mini-comeback.

The question is, is it enough?

What BB10 has going for it

A fairer media? There’s little doubt that when it comes to positive PR, BlackBerry has it in spades compared to Microsoft. The media so far has been a lot more enthusiastic or even forgiving of BlackBerry 10 when compared to anything Microsoft does these days. Because of this, BlackBerry can expect to ride a wave of positive press coverage as clearly they are the favored under-dog.

Carriers heart RIM. Likewise with carriers. RIM has always had strong carrier relations and the fact that they can launch on all four US carriers in addition to some major players in the UK is testament to that fact, something for which Microsoft struggles. Windows Phone users (especially on Sprint) have to feel the sting quite a bit today: here’s an untested OS and hardware being picked up by Sprint on day 1, meanwhile Windows Phone 8 is coming nearly 8 months after its release.

Legacy. There’s a reason why our sister site is called ‘CrackBerry’. Users of RIM products are a dedicated bunch and they’ve been steadfastly holding on for BB10 for nearly two years now. Microsoft rarely gets so much dedication and Microsoft’s image is often that of a “necessary evil”. Things are changing though for the better since 2012.

Hardware reliability. Say what you will about BlackBerry but much like Palm, their hardware is generally quite good. Not Apple good. Not Nokia good. But better than many Android phones on the market and that bold, almost garish BlackBerry logo emblazoned across the Z10 and Q10 is a reminder that they stand behind their work.

A messy UI with no central focal point

What BB10 has going against it?

Momentum (the other guy’s). Right now Apple and Android are steamrolling back and forth across the mobile landscape, vacuuming up customers left and right. What bits are left over has been going to Microsoft’s Windows Phone with 2012-2013 looking to be a turning point for Redmond and their partners.

But even though Windows Phone has failed to “explode”, its growth is four times what it was a year ago and had has been very steady for quite some time. With compelling hardware like the HTC 8X and bold Lumia 920 (not to mention the in-between ranges) can BlackBerry effectively compete with just two, conservative and perhaps even generic looking devices?

The OS is boring. Yeah, we’re going there. While our friends at CrackBerry are gushing over the new OS and its functionality, we think it’s quite bland. It’s your typical “Icons everywhere” UI that looks very much like iOS, Android and even MeeGo, is nothing to get excited about.

Will it work well? We haven’t had extensive time with it but we’re confident BlackBerry did a good enough job that most users will get things done, but it’s not a game-changing UI but rather another retread. That may have worked 3 years ago but in today’s market you either innovate or move on.

Icon: Been there, done that

No ecosystem or desktop. Bad for enterprise? In reading CrackBerry’s review, you’ll notice the word “desktop” is mentioned twice--once in regards to a browser comparison, the other about BlackBerry Link (desktop management app).

But BlackBerry 10 has no Office in it, no SkyDrive, no OneNote (though they tried with ‘Remember’), no Lync, no GroupMe, no Yammer or no SharePiont. All the apps and services live on the phone with no way to do real time collaboration with people not on your mobile OS.

Sure, Microsoft’s Xbox Video is a mess right now on Windows Phone but at least they have a game plan—three screens and a cloud. The idea that you can purchase Xbox Music and Video and play it on your PC, Mac, TV (Xbox 360) or phone gives people what they want: their media everywhere. How will BlackBerry 10 do that?

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 are coming closer and closer together. Whether it is SmartGlass or Office or SkyDrive, the two operating systems will allow users to have a desktop, tablet and mobile phone experience that is all similar. BlackBerry cannot compete with that environment and lacks that synergy.

The App Gap. Lots of attention was focused on how many apps BlackBerry 10 is supposedly launching with. Actually, what we heard a lot of were announcements and companies being “committed” to BB10. That’s a bit different than actually having the apps ready. Here are the “big title” apps announced today:

“Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Whatsapp, Amazon Kindle, New York Times, The Economist, MLB At Bat, ESPN Scorecenter, CBS Sports, PGA Tour, NHL Gamecenter, SportsTracker, ATP, UFC Cisco Webex, Bloomberg, Evernote, SAP, Citrix, Soundhound, The Weather Channel, BBC Top Gear, eMusic, Slacker, Songza, TuneIn Radio, Paper Camera, Box, DropBox, ooVoo, United Airlines, Delta Airlines,, Flixster, and Stubhub”

Not bad but not amazing either.

There is no Instagram, no Pandora, Amazon Mobile, CNN, USA Today, Groupon, Netflix, LastPass, uTorrent Remote, Audible, eBay, Fandango, UrbanSpoon, Foodspotting, GroupMe, IMDb, YouTube, TripIt, PayPal, MyFitnessPal and we’re guessing a ton more apps that you use on an everyday basis.

In other words, there’s no app advantage for BB10 right now and we’re doubtful it will surpass Windows Phone anytime soon.

And gaming is downright pathetic. Although we’ve been harsh and upfront about Xbox gaming on Windows Phone, it is still in a better long term position than BB10 will be…unless you really thing “Where’s my Water” will edge out our “Where’s my Water”.

Excuse me, Is that an iPhone 5?

Hardware is boring. When compared to the HTC 8X or Nokia Lumia 920, BlackBerry’s new hardware is not exactly that exciting looking. In fact it’s downright generic. Granted, those in business and enterprise may preferred a “toned down” phone compared to a Cyan or California Blue device, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for regular consumers either. What kid will yearn for the Z10?

Fact is, Nokia and HTC are creating some real works of art when it comes to hardware: beautiful and more than functional. Even the entry level Lumia 620 is one looker of a device. Nokia PureView, PureMotion, Beats Audio, Dolby Headphones, ClearBlack display, wireless charging? All neat and useful hardware innovations available on select Windows Phones. BlackBerry 10? Not so much.

Which leads us to…

Is BB10 more pretty than this?

What’s Coming Next. Rumor has it in a few weeks Nokia will announce a new flagship camera phone, possibly sporting a 41MP PureView camera in addition to a new aluminum based body for an updated Lumia look in 2013.

Who doubts that Nokia will continue to out-innovate everyone in the hardware field in both terms of new functions and looks in 2013? BB10 may be all business but Nokia knows style. They also know how to push boundaries.

But we’ll let BlackBerry 10 have its day as they do deserve credit for pulling off new hardware and a new OS. We have a feeling though that on February 25th, the world will see some true next generation hardware on a truly innovative OS.

Further reading:

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Nope... WP is super solid compared to bb10
  • Correct!
  • No. Slow web browsing, poor camera and execution and terrible battery life.
  • Your using your old startac again evoga.
  • Slow web browsing? Poor camera? Terrible batter life? Got any proof?
  • You can read pretty much any independant (non fanboy) review. Although I haven't heard anything bad about the browser, (it is allegedly quite excellent), the camera is really awful, especially in low light, and the battery life is awful as well. Most sites say that the Z10 is pretty decent...for a blackberry.
  • But i want say for blackbarry good luck.
  • Hahahaha! You guys are hilarious. You don't know anything about BB10 and you're saying BB10 isn't solid.
  • Former company? I know they've been through tough times but they still exist... Kinda :P
  • They are not RIM anymore. Now called BlackBerry. Stocks not RIMM, but BBRY.
  • Former company KNOWN AS...they changed their name today from RIM to BlackBerry;)
  • I think that should be 'company formally known as RIM', like 'artist formerly known as Prince'. 'Former company known as RIM' means it's a company called RIM that no longer exists in any form.
  • +1
  • OK, to be precise, it's "company formerly known as RIM". FORMERLY and FORMALLY are not the same word. One means "came before" while the other means "came in a tuxedo".
  • He was talking about how they are dropping the RIM branding, everything is going to be blackberry now.
  • They announced a name change today from RIM to just Blackberry. Probably not a bad idea really. I think that's what the reference is to. (Sorry if you knew that and were just being facetious.) Edit: Didn't mean to pile on either. Looks like a few commen snuck in while I was writing mine. :)
  • Technically not, Research In Motion (RIM) is now gone and changed strictly to BlackBerry. The manufacturer of BlackBerrys is now BlackBerry, not RIM.
  • "Research In Motion" no longer exists. The company is now called "BlackBerry".
    edit: oops, I am late to this party.
  • I just wish that Dell would update the Venue Pro with a 4.5" 720p screen, faster CPU, and with it's full QWERTY slider keyboard stomp out this Blackberry mess once and for all. =/
  • Hopefully with Microsoft paging them to cone back to the hardware game, we can expect to see venue pro 2 with slimmer, better design in terms of sealing the product so no dusts can get into the screen and soft textured keyboard that doesn't wore off in less than a month
  • I do to, but we can keep wishing because that's not likely to happen.. Lol!
  • I would rather Nokia build a portrait slider, or landscape even, oh how I miss tactile response.... In the WP game, the Nokia exclusives and support out weigh bothering with another manufacturer.
  • Completely agree. The DVP was a POS device no matter what anyone else says IMO.  However, if you had a poll, I truly wonder how many people would want a portrait slider physical keyboard.  I'd wager not more than 10% of the particiants.
  • Dell VP was solid...just need a half ass decent camera. Outside of that it served me well and looked stylish, albeit thick.
  • Ecosystems will win this when it's all said and done. Microsoft, Apple and Google all have solid foundations right now and can all build and expand upon them. BlackBerry is just... a phone? Sure it can tie into 3rd party services...but that's up to those 3rd party services to built and integrate into BB10. I think RIM is at a disadvantage when it comes to their ecosystem growing overtime. 
  • I thought BB10 runs android apps? So they get to ride those coattails, no?
  • I'm not sure but I think they still have to be ported in some fashion.  If the developers don't embrace BB10 it will be all over for Blackberry. 
  • QNX can't natively run Android apps. It still needs some tweaking, but not as much as a complete re-write.
  • I think I read an article yesterday saying that there was this software with 100,000 downloads, and was just released, thinking the name if the software was called codex, anywho, it allows developers to write an app, and convert the code to any platform .
  • There is a built emulator I have heard, and I have heard it does not preform very well.
  • BlackBerry is phone, cars, nuclear powerplants...yes, their QNX system runs all that.
  • And Windows is on 90 percent of the worlds desktop computers.
  •   Windows Phone have something to fear
    yes, the live stream video was just perfect,, all those apps 
    and total intergreted into society
    and global global availability of there product,, that is microsoft problem 
    i can not still buy the surface in denmark
    and a werry smart tuch screen , swipe with one hand ,, it beat microsoft
    but is still love windows phone,, but the next one that is the ?
  • Is it just me or does anyone else see Apple suing BB over the design? The bottom looks too similar to the Crapple iPoo 5
  • yeah i have been saying that for a while now. i do like bb10 though but this is not enough to make me switch as much as i wanted to try it.
  • Right.. It seriously looks like a iPhone.. Sad!
  • Along with the grid of dead static icons! Really innovative!
  • Yeah the 30min-tiles are so much better...
  • I don't know if you're being a wise-ass but I'll take "30 min" tiles over icons that do nothing.
    And if you want instantly updating live tiles there are several sports apps that update scores on a tile nearly instantaneously..
  • I was using bb10 for the last few days didn't really care for it diffently a nice upgrade though from what was bb but not enough to make me think it will keep the company afloat
  • Ever since the blackberry storm I refuse to ever even touch a blackberry smartphone. That phone nearly drove me insane and while the new version looks slick.....blackberry storm has destroyed any interest in me liking blackberry ever again no matter how great the new version would be.
  • As much as I tried to be a Storm click screen supporter, it was a terrible phone.
  • I heard that from a lot of people about Windows Mobile. And as we know Windows Phone isn't the same so it is the new blackberries are nothing like the old ones.
  • Something tells me that in about 6 months, BB10 will have more top of the line apps than WP will. This is because everybody knows what blackberry is.
  • I get that feeling too.  You will notice how little windows phone is mentioned in any article or presentation.  They need to get the PR machine running or they will fade.  I love my WP8 920 but very few seem to even know it exists.
  • I doubt that.  Normally the reason for not making a WP app is marketshare.  The BB10 marketshare is a lot smaller than the WP marketshare at this point.  That's why you are slowly seeing the larger banks starting to make banking apps for WP.  It's getting large enough that you can't just ignore it anymore.  As far as instagram I have to imagine it will be integrated into WP before BB.  If for no other reason the Facebook <-> Microsoft relationship.  Also as far as games we know the game engines are being ported to WP - what about BB?
  • ⤴⤴this⬆⬆
  • Nope, that's where you'll find the hypocrisy. It's cool to hate Microsoft atm.  Explain why Sprint wouldn't carry any windows phones yet they're carrying these BlackBerrys.
  • You're only half right. Sprint is only carrying Q10 and not the Z10. And that phone won't be out till like april or something. So it's more like Sprint is just in it for the iphones now then anything else
  • I think that I have become a WP fanboy because everything i look at on BB10 looks terrible. It's totally unorganized and cluttered and there is no real home screen. It looks like they have taken the worst parts of ios and android and pasted them together and called it an os. Not to mention the fact that ported android apps run in an android 2.3 emulator. Android 2.3 Really? that's awful.
  • That's the same feeling I got when watching some video presentations of the new BB. It looks completely unorganized and hard to use efficiently.
  • while I don't expect you to ever like anything that's not from Microsoft, you could at least spend a decent amount of hands on time with the OS before making comparisons. There are a lot of really good things about BB10 like proper multi-tasking, an actual fricking Facebook app and DAV support, just to name a few.
    Similarly there are tons of good things on Windows Phone as well. The UI and the hardware is simply best in class.
    Immediately implying that WP has nothing to fear is a bit shortsighted. Kind of like how Steve Ballmer laughed off the iPhone and Android OS.
  • Microsoft did announce Skype on BB10 though.  Let's hope that they manage to get their sh1t together and produce a usable version of Skype for WP8 before it arrives on BB10.  Though on current performance it doesn't seem very likely as we are still in a very uninspiring preview/beta/"whatever you want to call it fudge it together" release.
  • I use Skype on daily basis and can't point to what you mean. It works just fine.
  • Yes, my Skype works fine.
  • I could see my girlfriend buying the Z10 because she just likes Blackberry due to familiarity. I think the phones look nice, and the OS looks clean. But if I didn't love WP the way I do, I can't see myself making a concious decision to pick this over an Android device.
  • There's nothing familiar about bbx the whole os has been overhauled. She should probably know that before buying it. She will most definitely have to relearn that os
  • Positive press is not deserved. It's a year late and still lack apps. It's nothing on WP8.
  • That's kind if hypocritical don't you think? You sound like the people who said the same about WP when it was released.. I used to hate how they said WP was to late, and was not good because it didn't have sufficient apps.. I hope WP succeeds further than BB but I refuse to be like those haters from Apple and Google.
  • Nice article Daniel, thank that deserves an applaud itself! 
    I totally agree with. They have their plus sides and their minus sides. I'll never become a blackberry user. When I saw what my brother's bold was (not) capable of, it permanently banned me out of blackberry world.
    Off-topic: will we be expecting a nice phone review today? :D
  • i agree, this site has pretty balanced articles compared to the crapfest that is imore, i went there after i got my ipad mini to see if there were some good apps i hadn't heard about and all they do is jerk off to anything apple does and bash everyone else. terrible terrible writing. i stopped going there completely after i scrolled through the first page of absolute trash articles. kudos to you dan and wpcentral!
  • I agree. I have become a fan of this website. Even though I had once received an email reply from Daniel that was a bit harsh. My lack of knowledge was targeted but maybe he was just in a bad mood that day.
  • he always is ;)
  • Tiwo,
    Blackberry 10 is brand new os.  Why are you comparing with bold?  When it is avaialble in store, just play with it.and then comment ..
  • Who knows......But it would suck if some big name applications appeared on BB before WP. 
  • I know right?? That would be the ultimate slap in the face. What if they get Instagram before we do? That would make us look bad..LOL!!
  • I never thought the release would come.  I say the more choices the merrier but the reality is that 4 OS's is probably one too many.  But then again, I know nothing.
  • I don't think Windows Phone will be in any trouble at all. Though I really love Blackberry notifications. Microsoft really have to improve on the little things that make the biggest impact because their foundation is already solid.
  • If Skype works better on BB10 than on WP8, than Microsoft definitely has A LOT to worry about, especially since Skype is theirs.
  • Its now an android style BlackBerry lol
  • Android used to be a BlackBerry knock-off before the iPhone came along. Funny how the tables have turned, isn't it?
  • Like someone said earlier it comes down to ecosystems. Apple has their house, Microsoft has their house and so does Google. Blackberry is trying but if people said Microsoft was late and their struggling for market share, then BlackBerry will really struggle in the U.S. particularly. I give them credit for government security and other things,it seems they have that on lock.
  • But better then Android
  • But not better then wp
  • Right!!
  • Not to be critical because I am a HUGE MS fan but if BB launches with all the games below then we may have something to worry about. These games are supposed to be coming to WP but when (I know we have some already)? Is it possible we get all these games before BB hits? I hope so but I am not confident. Where is Jetpack Joyride? Wasnt that supposed to come out before Christmas? Where are the Gameloft games? We didnt even get the add on levels for Angry Birds Star Wars yet and iOS and Android got them last year.
    four titles from Rovio (Angry Birds and Angry Birds Star Wars are among them), Where's My Water, Where's My Perry, 15 titles from EA (including Plants Vs. Zombies, Real Racing 3, Monopoly Millionaire, and Dead Space), 10 titles from Gameloft (including NOVA3, Asphalt 7, Spider-Man 4, Modern Combat 4, and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises), Jetpack Joyride HD, Fruit Ninja HD, Cut the Rope, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episodes 1 and 2.
  • People do not buy Blackberry's to play games...
  • There is a blackberry now with no keyboard. Anything can happen...
  • That is what worries me even more! Developers are bringing their AAA titles to an OS that is primarily used for business before WP. That isnt good. Gameloft and EA should be releasing their games for WP way before BB.
  • As becz the bb10 is just launch today they r trying to show people some eye catching titels. But wheter the bb can beat wp it solely depends on how stable their echosystem is. although they copy some hub concept from wp but they r not completely hub dependent. like in ms office hub people hub xbox game. they trying to copy from all os. 
  • The thing is is BB has games even today that WP doesn't have, and it's primarily due to the programming.  Over a year ago, I emailed a developer who had games on Symbian, iOS, Android, and BB; they even had their games on WebOS, but they would not/could not bring them to WP7; they said it was easier to port to the other platforms.  That same developer, 10 Tons LTD, only just got one of their games on WP8 (it's called Joining Hands).   Sadly, it's only one game - they have a stable of games!
  • "Does Windows Phone have something to fear?"  Simple answer, yes.  Microsoft should be in the mode of fear not only from BB, but from Apple, Google, etc.  They should feel pressure to produce their utmost best at all times.  As a person who have used Blackberries, iPhones, Android and WP I prefer Windows Phone over the others easily.  But right now those who prefer WP phones are in the minority so Microsoft needs to do everything within it's power to ensure growth by producing the best software for the devices out there.  They shouldn't be taking anything for granted.