BlackBerry Z10: a sharp update for the ultimate business tool
The technology media loves a make or break moment, especially in the world of big business, and corporate fortunes are avidly followed as they ascend - and descend - in line with the vagaries of market performance. This is a long-winded way of saying that the knives are out for BlackBerry, the once dominant handset maker that is believed to have lost its way as smartphones evolved into the must-have device for every spectrum of society.
BlackBerry might be down but it is very far from out. The company's latest product, the BlackBerry Z10, is no slavish iPhone clone (although Cupertino's crack team of patent lawyers are presumably digging deep into their files right this minute). Instead, it's a neat, attractive, functional and highly plausible alternative to the dominant operations systems of our era.
Unfortunately, we've reached the stage where launching an OS is akin to building a car brand from scratch - an expensive spin of the roulette wheel. While it's tough to wrench people out of one eco-system and expect them to slip seamlessly into another, we don't think BlackBerry expects legions of iPhone users to joyfully abandon their beloved iOS. Instead, the company's main aim is to keep corporate customers happy while halting the clumsy practice of juggling a traditional keyboard-bearing BlackBerry and a sleek touchscreen.
We think they've mostly succeeded. The Z10 is sober, for sure, but under that smart suit is a very competent suite of software. The swipe to unlock and peek into your message folder is beautifully handled, the keyboard is fast, intelligent and has fine predictive capabilities and calling, messaging, looking at documents and interacting with the cloud are all present and correct. There are apps aplenty available from launch, with a large chunk of Android apps also working on the Z10, and tens of thousands more are on the way.
BlackBerry's famed security and stability are baked in, making the Z10 an uncontroversial prospect for massive corporate customers and their nervy IT departments. The BBM service is seamlessly woven into the device, with a new video call feature that also allows you to share your screen with your callee. Installed with a swift 4G sim from EE, the Z10 is easily the equal of its competitors. Once upon a time, Android was a quirky alternative to the iOS mainstream. Things change fast. But BlackBerry could usefully build on their new-found status as a niche manufacturer, turning the Z10 into a fast-growing cult object that also serves nicely as a truly usable all-in-one device.