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Blackberry has returned. What does that mean for everyone?

As far as competing operating systems are concerned, there’s no reason to worry, that is, if you’re Samsung or Apple. That said, Blackberry’s return into the field should alarm the likes of HTC, Sony, LG, Asus, and perhaps Motorola.
February 11, 2013
blackberry logo

Everyone thought Research In Motion was done for, and rightly so. RIM has been the leading choice for businesses all over the globe for many years. It was the brand that had market strongholds that were once thought impenetrable. And no one had ever imagined that iOS and Android would spell its doom. But they did.

For a season, they were gone. Absent. Irrelevant. Ostracized by the very market they had once built. For the first time, Blackberry had to ask hard questions that led to harder answers. But they never gave up. They made no excuses about burning platforms nor settled for a “third best” ecosystem. It paid off.

Enter the new Blackberry.

Developer attention and market excitement

Although the new Blackberry phones will run some Android Gingerbread apps from launch, that should not deter anyone from trying out these new devices. In the last year, Android has made huge strides in terms of app quality, and it’s a fact that these apps are making money in ways even Apple can’t.

Spurred by Blackberry’s new interface and many innovations, one can see a change of heart among developers. Plus, the market reaction seems surprisingly positive. Although one could spot a healthy dose of cynicism in many reviews, it’s no doubt that Blackberry is back in the spotlight.

Blackberry will overtake Nokia

The market share that Blackberry once possessed was quickly gobbled up by Android and iOS, while Nokia had a share of the leftovers. With their first generation of new devices, Blackberry will not be a threat to Android and iOS, at least not in the next one or two years.

However, I am pretty confident in Blackberry’s enterprise prowess; they will quickly swarm over Nokia. Feeling the threat, Nokia didn’t have any kind words to greet Blackberry with. Instead, they welcomed Blackberry with a cowardly pre-emptive intimidation strategy.

blackberry z10

Blackberry is bad news for everyone except Samsung and Apple

As far as competing operating systems are concerned, there’s no reason to worry, that is, if you’re Samsung or Apple. That said, Blackberry’s return into the field should alarm the likes of HTC, Sony, LG, Asus, and perhaps Motorola.

Earlier in this article, we established why Nokia dislikes Blackberry’s return. Should Android manufacturers worry? Not all of them will be affected. HTC, Motorola, and Asus have, in their own way, achieved a level of innovation that will keep them afloat.

LG and Sony have shown signs of a comeback, with devices like the Nexus 4 and the Xperia Z being received with enthusiasm. But will it be enough to get them through the rough patch?

Develop once, earn twice 

The new Blackberry devices support Android apps, with Ice Cream Sandwich support down the road. This means, that, for the first time, Android developers can easily repackage their apps for the Blackberry platform.

Multi-platform support has always been a challenge for app developers. Should this strategy be successful, it will give Blackberry a huge boost. Naturally, there are a lot of probles at play, like:

  • Will it be possible to buy an app once, and have it run on two ecosystems?
  • Will Google Apps get a strong footing on Blackberry like Google Maps had on iOS?
  • Just how easy is it to port Android apps to Blackberry devices?

Instead of seeing Blackberry as a competitor, Google should work with Blackberry to get the Play Store and other Google services on Blackberry OS. After that, take a commission from paid apps downloaded on Blackberry OS. I know this sounds absolutely crazy. But think about it. Google gets to improve their services on Blackberry and further secures its ecosystem as the preferable one.

This may mean that Blackberry would have to pay Google for every paid app they sell, but at least they wouldn’t have to do all the work building a new ecosystem.

Only time will tell

Blackberry has made some sort of a comeback. Previous efforts have failed them, but unlike the PlayBook, the new phones will have a measure of success. If you noticed (I did), Blackberry’s latest phones got more positive reviews compared to Nokia’s first Windows Phones. That says a lot about Blackberry.

It also reinforces the fact that Nokia hasn’t really succeeded in providing enough differentiation within the Windows ecosystem to get consumers to switch to their products. Even if it takes three years before Blackberry find its place in the new smartphone world, the perspective is intimidating enough to worry Nokia.

As a lover of mobile tech, I am personally excited about Blackberry’s return, and from the look of it, I believe that, within the next 6 to 12 months, Blackberry will surpass Nokia. I’m just waiting for the dogfight to begin.