BlackBerry Z10: Should you stay or should you go?

And…now comes the BlackBerry Z10, with the new BB10 OS! The Prodigal Son, the Holy Grail and the Messiah all in one. It couldn’t have come fast enough for the company that used to be called Research In Motion (RIM), but recently changed its name to echo its chief product, the BlackBerry.

Changing the name of a company is usually not a good thing. It often means that the old company had something seriously wrong with it, some disaster associated with it, something the public perceived as very bad indeed. Or, maybe in this case the company only thought it was very bad–maybe it was certain the public perception of RIM was synonymous with Failure.

Whatever–it’s their company, they can do with it as they like. It just seems odd. You can bet that in 2008, when the BlackBerry smartphone was still outselling its competition, there was no talk of changing the name.

But, back to the recently-released BlackBerry Z10. You’ll recall this is the same device we were promised a year ago…then, last fall. Finally, the date was set for January 30, 2013.

We were told that the hardware had issues…that it wasn’t ready. Well, give the company credit for getting this one right, even though it didn’t help in shoring up its credibility. After releasing the unfinished PlayBook to a terrible reception and then being forced later on to hold a fire sale to clear out the device’s unsold inventory, the company that was then still called RIM wisely held back. Of course, the smart thing to do would have been to announce a release date and hold to it, even if it was a year away.

Suppose you’re a loyal BlackBerry follower, and you don’t know if the time has finally come to find a new smartphone platform–or remain true to your allegiance.

Following the release of the BlackBerry Z10,  PCWorld.com‘s Tony Bradley wrote an article discussing the pros and cons of staying with the BlackBerry platform. Here’s an excerpt:

BlackBerry customers are at a crossroads: Either stick with BlackBerry or switch to some other smartphone platform. If you’re still using a BlackBerry, then you’ve probably grown tired of watching the smartphone world pass you by. However, the new BlackBerry 10 OS is here, and the BlackBerry Z10 is selling fairly well out of the gate.

Let me be clear; I’m not arguing whether people in the market for a new smartphone should consider a BlackBerry Z10 over, say, an iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy SIII. That’s certainly a debate worth having, but I’m focusing specifically on whether existing BlackBerry customers should stay the course. If you’re on the fence, here are arguments both in favor of and against staying loyal to BlackBerry.

Reasons to stay the course

BlackBerry has reinvented itself with BB10 and the Z10 smartphone.

1. Balance

Businesses that either provide BlackBerry smartphones, or that allow workers to use their own smartphones through a BYOD (“bring your own device”) policy, need to be able to protect company data. Thankfully, BB10 includes a feature called Balance, which segregates personal apps and data from business apps and data.

Balance protects company apps and data from being accessed by personal apps on managed devices. It prevents business information from being copied and pasted into personal apps or email messages, and enables IT admins to ensure business data stays separate and secure. The apps and data still appear together seamlessly, though, so the user doesn’t need to be concerned with which is which, or switch back and forth between business and personal apps.

2. Peek-a-boo

The Peek feature in BlackBerry 10 allows you to sneak a peek at your latest notifications and messages without actually switching apps or exiting the current app you’re using. Peek will help users work more efficiently and be more productive with the device. Smartphones are overloaded with apps and data, so any feature that makes it easier to navigate among them and get things done is welcome.

3. Innovative typing

One of the defining characteristics of a BlackBerry smartphone has always been its physical QWERTY keyboard. Apple’s iPhone and the vast majority of Android smartphones, however, rely purely on a touchscreen display.

With the Z10, BlackBerry also embraces touchscreen input, but BlackBerry has developed a unique intuitive typing technology that BlackBerry fans will probably appreciate. As Melissa Perenson reviewed the BlackBerry Z10, “This keyboard essentially eliminates the need for acronyms and text-speak such as “OTW,” “BRB,” and “OMG,” as typing full words takes much less time.” And, she continues, it will still take some “coordination and muscle memory to switch between tapping letters, swiping upward, and occasionally moving your thumb to see the words it’s suggesting.” But the technology should help BlackBerry loyalists transition from a physical keyboard.

4. Parity, finally

The Z10 puts BlackBerry in relatively the same league as the iPhone and Android smartphones.

BlackBerry 10 has been a long time coming, and BlackBerry has struggled to keep up or offer anything compelling in recent years.The company has managed to catch up, more or less, with its new OS and hardware.

The Z10 is a fairly standard touchscreen smartphone, offering a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It has GPS, NFC, and all of the features one expects in a leading smartphone. This doesn’t raise the bar, per se, but BlackBerry fans can at least feel less envy over friends and coworkers with iPhones and Android handsets.

5. BlackBerry infrastructure

From a business perspective, companies already invested in BlackBerry infrastructure have incentive to stick with the platform. It offers more control and manageability for the company than competing smartphones do.

BlackBerry 10 is completely new, though, and it can’t be managed using legacy BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) implementations. However, BlackBerry has gone to great lengths to provide new tools to help bridge the gap and make it as painless as possible for customers to navigate the transition, and simultaneously manage both new and legacy BlackBerry devices.

Although the new BlackBerry OS and smartphone aren’t necessarily groundbreaking, BlackBerry has done an admirable job of developing innovative features and building a mobile OS and smartphone device that are on a par with rival platforms. This may not win many new customers for BlackBerry, but it’s a compelling reason for existing customers to stick with what they know.

Listed above are the five reasons to stay. Click on the above link (or here) to read the five reasons to get out, while you still can.

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