The Ailing Fortunes of Blackberry
It was the perennial debate: what is better, a Blackberry or an Android smartphone? For those who have decided that iPhones are lovely but far too expensive when you can buy a phone that looks just as good and does the same things, if not more of them, then it was the question to ask yourself. Should you go for the erstwhile, very desirable Blackberry or a more anonymous smartphone? Four or five years ago the answer was a Blackberry with little hesitation. They were beloved by business people, had a proper QWERTY keyboard which was so much easier to use and, let’s face it, had bags of street cred and kudos. If you were hip, you had a Blackberry.
Fast forward to 2013 and all that has changed. The Blackberry is outdated and only the very faithful are hanging on in there and sticking to their favoured fruity phone. The reason? Android smartphones now have gorgeous large screens, they come in different colours, they are light and slim and their apps are second-to-none. Blackberry has fallen way behind on the app fronts and, in doing so, has lost many of its customers. Smartphones might be less easily identified as a brand: ‘I’ve got an HTC / Samsung / Acer / LG ‘ doesn’t sound quite as cool as ‘I have a Blackberry’ used to, or ‘I have in iPhone’ does today. However, many look divine and the Samsung Galaxy in particular is building up a devoted following.
Blackberry is endeavouring to fight back and improve its platform so that popular Android apps will also work with a Blackberry, but this has been fraught and many of the biggest apps are still slow and cumbersome. In order to appeal to a younger market and to be more Android-like, it ditched the Qwerty keyboard.But this caused problems too as so many of its faithful client base were faithful because of that very keyboard. How could it attract the young Android market and retain its original customers? Appealing to both seemed to be an impossible task and perhaps still is.
The new Blackberry Q5
The latest BlackBerrys are the Q5s and the soon-to-be-released high end Q10. They both retain the physical QWERTY keyboard and promise a ‘fast effortless experience that flows with you.’ The Q5 is the more reasonably priced phone and so must be the one Blackberry hopes will revive its fortunes and appeal to the mass market. It is hoping that it will attract new customers and persuade current owners to sell any old Blackberry Torch 9860models in order to upgrade.
The problem is the way the phone looks. The Q5 is black, of course, as all BlackBerrys are and it has a smaller screen than most Androids because of that pesky keyboard. But for most users being able to watch a video or look at your precious photos is an integral requirement to owning a phone and therein lies the rub. Why peer at a video or your photos on a tiny screen when you can buy an Android or an iPhone and enjoy them at their best?