BlackBerry's fine new crop may wither on the vine
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Back in the days when Google's engineers were still writing the code for the first version of its Android software, there was a great big cupboard in its London office filled with phones. Dozens of them, each in its own little cubby hole.
For every 50 handsets sold in Europe, you could expect to find 16 different operating systems. Designing an application that would work on all of them would take a developer years. Too much choice can be a problem, and it was that very problem Google was trying to solve by creating Android and offering it free to manufacturers.
Last week the company formerly known as Research In Motion renamed itself after its most famous product and released two new BlackBerrys, running on a reinvented operating system called BB10. The reviews were good, but BlackBerry's shares were crushed.
Part of the disappointment was about prices and release dates. The touchscreen, keyboard-less Z10 costs as much as an iPhone 5 at Carphone Warehouse. It went on sale in the UK last week, but will not reach the US until March, which makes the splashy ad campaign BlackBerry has created to debut at today's Super Bowl a little premature. Those who want a traditional BlackBerry keyboard will have to wait until April, when the Q10 appears.
Another problem for BlackBerry is operating system fatigue. Alongside Android and Apple's iOS, Microsoft is spending billions promoting its Windows Phone. To attract the best apps, like BBC iPlayer and Facebook, BlackBerry has had to pay many developers to produce versions for its own platform. Without them, BB10 would be of limited use to its users.
For personal computers, there have only ever been two operating systems that mattered: Microsoft's and Apple's. While competition is often good for consumers, too much of it held mobile computing back for years. If BB10 is a system too far, its handsets will be pushed to the back of the cupboard.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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