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Blackberry Cellphones Operating Systems

BlackBerry 10 Review: Good, But Too Late? 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the uphill-battles-are-always-more-fun dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has an extensive review of the newly-released BlackBerry 10 operating system. Since it's such a late entry into the market, the tech community has been eyeballing the new operating system with trepidation — would all that time go to waste with a poor offering, or would BlackBerry 10 be a reasonable alternative to iOS and Android? Well, it seems BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) actually put the time to good use. The review finds most of the UI innovations to actually be.. innovative. "BlackBerry took a lot of time to see what the competition is doing, and then it worked to refine its operating system. It essentially had an excellent cheat sheet, filled with everything that has worked wonderfully and all the things that have bombed. That said, BlackBerry still has to mold its product for its two huge core audiences: the business-oriented multi-tasker and the developing smartphone markets. To that end, it has included all of the essential features and apps to appeal to both of those parties. The corporate user has his or her share of content to watch on the train ride to work, games and apps to help keep busy when not entrenched in a meeting, and the perfect Hub for messaging (not to mention the literal split between work and personal environments)." However, the review also notes that the system is not really designed to make people drop their Android or iOS devices, so uptake is going to be slow at best. The question for the platform's success (and the company's) is no longer 'Is it any good? but 'Is it too late?'" There's also a review of the z10 smartphone itself.
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BlackBerry 10 Review: Good, But Too Late?

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  • by Qwavel (733416) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:21PM (#42815009)

    BB appears to think is is an OS company. It even seems to be describing a backup plan that involves selling BB10 into embedded markets.

    Surely, this is a mistake. They have/had great smartphone features, particularly around messaging, and they have server software running in most corporations around the world. But they have let these advantages slip away as they pursued the perfect OS.

    Instead, they could have done as Amazon did, and skin Android to their liking. This would have got them to market at least a year sooner with a product that could easily still have been uniquely BB on the surface - and the surface is the only thing the smartphone user sees.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jjetson (2041488)
      Yup Android is the answer to every mobile companies problems. Please hit yourself with something
      • by dingen (958134) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:33PM (#42815101)

        After all, nothing beats a monopoly!

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:44PM (#42816991) Homepage Journal

        Actually, your sarcastic statement may be more true than you suspect.

        Merely skinning another phone company's Android wouldn't do much for Blackberry, or any other phone company. But, if all the stupid shit that has been added on by the phone companies were dropped, and Android were recompiled and built FOR SECURITY - then it just might have been a better Blackberry OS.

        You will note, please, that I'm not stating that as a certainty. I'm merely pointing out that Android has been mismanaged by almost everyone, for their own profit. Linux is always a good starting point for a good operating system. But, any idiot with root can destroy the best of operating systems.

      • You joke, but why not? It's open, it's popular, a large part of the world's population already knows how to use it... Promise frequent updates and add BBM and all that other crap, and not only will the loyal Blackberry customers use it, but also Android users looking for decent hardware (like the Q10 with that luscious hardware keyboard)...

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Android may not be the only mobile OS or the best mobile OS, but it's the only FREE mobile OS. And one which now has a huge app store. If you think any CE company would want to pay for their OS over a free one with great app support, you have probably already hit yourself too many times.

        For chrissakes, Windows phone outsold Blackberry last quarter. Unless that's what you are talking about in terms of other mobile solutions, your sarcasm is badly misplaced...

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          Android may not be the only mobile OS or the best mobile OS, but it's the only FREE mobile OS. And one which now has a huge app store.

          Uh, the open source Android has no app store?

          Do feel free to point me to it on http://source.android.com/ [android.com] .

    • Amazon is making money from content and services, not devices.
      • by Qwavel (733416) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:56PM (#42815325)

        Yes, and if were a 'devices' company they would have to charge more, perhaps work with carriers etc., but the part about skinning Android - and putting their effort into that skin, and into getting to market fast - could have been the same.

        Amazon has their own appstore, their own push notification service, their own browser, their own payment service, etc. For most of the stuff that matters they made it their own.

        Would it have made sense for them to spend an extra year on the stuff their customers will never see?

        And in the end, this much touted QNX, which cost RIM so much, doesn't actually sound so great. For example, the battery life is apparently terrible. If I'm not careful to keep my Playbook charged then it is toast (this has happened to several friends). I'm not saying QNX is bad, but it wasn't worth the delay.

    • by kae77 (1006997) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:32PM (#42815089)

      What you're describing is a chicken and an egg problem.

      "They have/had great smartphone features, particularly around messaging, and they have server software running in most corporations around the world." -- They had to build an OS from the ground up BECAUSE they value these things. Android is great for what it does, but security is not one of it's strong points. Blackberry's name is built on security for those messages.

      You can't just throw that out and still have a Blackberry. If they were shooting for another consumer reskin, then they could have waded into the bloody waters of the Android market and sold themselves to the highest bidder. Instead they took the hard road, bought a rock solid kernel and built a new OS from the ground up with messaging, security and the future in mind.

      iOS and Android are great, but they're starting to get long in the tooth. They ride the cutting edge, but eventually that will show it's age. Blackberry started over the beginning to build an OS for the next 10 years. If they can launch Mobile Computing, it's a bright future.

      That, however, is a BIG if.

      • by Qwavel (733416) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:08PM (#42815425)

        The biggest security issues with Android are
        #1. manufacturers who don't provide updates (there was a good article from the ACLU in the last few days).
        #2. it is simply not a priority for most of its users and the manufacturers, so not much emphasis is put into it.
        #3. the open appstore - in my opinion much less of an issue then #1, and #2.

        RIM could easily resolve all of these issues. #3 is the hardest because it means creating their own appstore, but that's what we are talking about anyway.

        Getting QNX ready took 2 years. How long would it take RIM to create a distribution of Android that addressed these issues.

        One reason I'm bummed about the route RIM took is because I would have loved to have seen what RIM could do with Android. Now, instead, we are questioning whether they even have a future.

        Finally, you are talking about QNX as some kind'of salvation. I"m hearing a lot of that these days, but when I read the reviews of BB10 I see nothing to suggest that QNX itself will save RIM. The good stuff is the Hub and Blackberry Balance - both of these have nothing to do with QNX. Yeah, it's nice and slick and responsive, but iOS and Android (as of 4.1) are now too.

        The only thing I see in the reviews that is really about the core OS is the complaints that the battery life is horrible.

        • There, FTFY:

          The biggest security issues with Android are:

          #1. manufacturers who don't provide updates, and are insane enough to think that if they frustrate customers into buying a new phone before their 2-year contract is up, the new phone they buy WON'T be from just about any manufacturer EXCEPT them.

          #2. Locked bootloaders that cause #1 to be a problem that end users can't politely laugh at and do an end-run around anyway.

          #3. Non-opensource loadable kernel modules that get broken by every new version of An

        • Your list are things that are kind of issues, but I see three bigger ones:

          1) User aspect of the security model is not good. By asking for all permissions upfront, you are really just begging for everyone to not pay attention to any of them. There is no context around what you are agreeing to.

          2) Many, many Android devices are rooted and it's very easy to root systems, which weakens the internal security model. Add to taht that most technical users (read: company workers) will also allow app installation f

      • by yoshi_mon (172895)

        iOS and Android are great, but they're starting to get long in the tooth. They ride the cutting edge, but eventually that will show it's age. Blackberry started over the beginning to build an OS for the next 10 years.

        Huh? Android, their version spread issues not withstanding, has had continued innovation. With everything from "under the hood" improvements to UI updates. iOS has been doing the same but with more an eye on keeping their experience very unified and the learning curve when they do update things low.

        Windows Mobile was in dire need of an update and it remains to be seen if they can leverage Win8 along with their new tablets to take some of the market away from iOS and Android. And then in dead last is BB1

      • by emil (695) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @12:25AM (#42817457) Homepage

        At the core, QNX and Android are based on kernels providing POSIX services. The kernel system calls/API do not translate into a strong phone or a weak phone.

        The userland is wildly different between these devices. Android relies on the Dalvik JVM to translate a synthetic bytecode, while the QNX phone focus is Javascript among others.

        In theory, either kernel could be used to run either userland. For the QNX phone, this is also practice, as it runs Android apps.

        Android runs on Linux. Do we argue that Linux is inherently insecure?

        There are lots of other kernels that provide POSIX. Building a phone out of the SCO Openserver kernel would not in itself make an insecure phone. Flaws in phone security flow from userland design, not the kernel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      QNX is far better than Linux.

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        QNX is far better than Linux.

        Is QNX affordable to those that would use Linux?

    • Interesting blog post on the difference between QNX and the other OS offerings.... http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=217190 [market-ticker.org]
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      No keyboard no way. Without the keyboard they got nothing I can't get from other sources cheaper.

      • No keyboard no way. Without the keyboard they got nothing I can't get from other sources cheaper.

        They keyboard is if anything BB10's strongest point. Yes it is virtual but they really, really thought through how to make it as usable as the old-school Blackberry keyboard.

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Then get the Q10 instead of the Z10?

    • Instead, they could have done as Amazon did, and skin Android to their liking.

      skinning android puts them in competition with sony, samsung, amazon, asus, acer, HTC, and every other android device maker out there. that means they are now competing on price / latest whiz-bang feature only, a market in which they have absolutely no chance.

      every mobile device manufacturer wants to be apple. apple doesn't compete on price or even features. they compete on advertising. they charge more and offer less. this is where blackberry wants to be. honestly, it's the best shot they have. try to be t

      • by ArtDent (83554)

        Wasn't that what Nokia said? They threw away two years waiting on WP, and then found out that they're *still* competing with Sony, Samsung, Amazon, Asus, Acer, HTC and all the rest.

    • Android's just another layer on that layer cake called Linux.

      Where as QNX is a fair dinkum realtime OS & the favourite OS of nuclear reactors & machines that go beep in hospitals

    • YES, this. If the Q10 ran Android, I'd be buying it in a heartbeat. Sufficiently high-res screen, good keyboard, pocket-friendly form factor... Here's to hoping for CyanogenMod on the Q10.

      But nooooooo, they had to leave us stuck with touchscreen-only devices (because the only usable Android devices right now are the Nexus line)...

    • BB appears to think is is an OS company. It even seems to be describing a backup plan that involves selling BB10 into embedded markets.

      They bought QNX, which still sells embedded software [qnx.com]. And does a fine job of it, if you ask me, it's a nice system.

    • because it bought an existing OS business (QNX). That they decided to use QNX for phones does not nullify that other existing revenue stream, or any decision to double down on it for telematics etc.

  • by orient (535927)
    Longtime Nexus owner, I got a Z10 yesterday and I am impressed. Die-hard Apple fanboys, iPhone 5 owners, admitted their envy and said they will to get it as company phone (yes, they can do that).
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      I am waiting on the Q10, i have a Bold 9700 running OS 5 now and want a modernized model that is similar.
    • So, can the Z10 run arbitrary software, written by anyone, and obtained by downloading a file directly from somebody's website, without having to get permission from anybody besides the owner of the phone? If not, it's going to flop even harder than Windows Phone. If RIM imposes even the slightest barrier to entry (especially one that costs money or requires RIM/carrier approval), developers won't bother with it. If it's good AND as open to uncensored apps as Android, it just might make things interesting.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

        by ArhcAngel (247594) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:20PM (#42815569)

        can the Z10 run arbitrary software, written by anyone, and obtained by downloading a file directly from somebody's website, without having to get permission from anybody besides the owner of the phone?

        Yes. Of course you could always do that with your BlackBerry unless it was connected to BES with a policy set against such a thing. With BB Balance in BES 10 that is no longer a problem since you can install your rogue app on your personal space.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        BB has two modes.

        Home mode which is open. Inside the home mode the end user can download what they want.
        Work mode which is secure. Inside the work mode the end user is restricted. Data cannot be copied from inside workmode apps to home mode apps.

  • Are new cellphones no longer being sold? If its compelling, then people looking to upgrade might go for it. Companies looking for a standard set might elect to use it. Not saying whether it is compelling or not, but the idea that it is too late is just a bit silly.
    • This is dead on. You'd have to completely ignore the massive evolution the mobile computing sector has gone through in the past several years to think it's static and settled and Android/iOS will split the market 50-50 until the heat death of the universe.
    • Except people are already tied into their current OS in general. How many people do you think really want to pay for their apps again on a different platform (as will happen with anyone who has iOS apps) or for their apps to work better (as will happen for anyone who has Android apps unless the emulator is -much- better than the Playbook, most people will want native versions).

      I know people who have literally hundreds of dollars worth of apps on their phones/tablets, I can't imagine them wanting to jump
      • by DogDude (805747)
        People do it every so often with all Apple hardware. People do it occasionally with Windows software. Platform specific applications aren't necessarily going to stop people from migrating to a different platform. Heck, I've got a Windows 8 Phone with almost no "apps" installed. Certainly, none that I've paid for. I'd consider switching if I needed a new phone. All of my important data is on my Exchange Server and my file server. It would take about one minute to re-sync my new phone.
        • -cough- Desktop Linux -cough-

          Around the time Vista was released there was a lot of interest in Linux for the desktop. It ran faster, with a custom theme it even felt more familiar. It was a whole lot cheaper. But it mostly fizzled out because of platform specific software. Platform specific software certainly can prevent people from changing platforms.
          • by DogDude (805747)
            Linux on the desktop fizzled not because I'd have to buy another version of Quickbooks in addition to the one that I already have. It failed because there's no Quickbooks to buy at all. There's a huge dearth of "apps" for desktop Linux. We're talking about some people having to re-purchase "apps" for their phones. Different scenario.
            • by Patch86 (1465427)

              Not only that, but the sort of programmes you need on a desktop are often more unique and/or business critical than anything on a phone. If you can't get Quickbooks or AutoCAD on your new desktop and they're things that you need, the new desktop isn't fit for purpose. If you're a gamer and none of the AAA new games will run on your new gaming rig, then the gaming rig isn't fit for purpose.

              Apps on my phone which I've paid for are mostly either utilities (file managers, unzip tools, etc.), cheap and/or indy g

          • Also, Linux has huge quality and documentation issues. I tried out Ubuntu on 3 very vanilla PCs around Vista time, one never got past grub2; one wouldn't play video nicely (yes, I tried the proprietary drivers too); and on the one that made it thorough the install and drivers, I never could figure out Upstart nor RDP remoting (VNC is slooooow and ugly) nor tweak my dual screen layout the way I want it (menu bar on the right of the rightmost screen; different resolutions).

            Chrome OS and Android are succeeding

            • Somebody should make a vertical business eg hardware, software, app around Linux. It worked for Apple. It works for consoles. Why not for Linux? Seems like all the hardware out there is "not quite right" and certainly there's nothing built specifically to run it. There are systems with it pre installed and pseudo verified to run properly from big makers but that's not the same as built to run Linux.

      • by saihung (19097)

        Those friends of yours are in the minority. No one I know has more than 1 or 2 paid apps installed on their Android or iOS phones. Get the software and people will switch. I don't believe that the casual user has the least bit of brand loyalty to their mobile phone maker.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        In my experience, smartphone users fall into roughly two categories. 1) There are people like me who haven't spent $100's on apps, and so wouldn't mind moving (I've got maybe $20 of apps that I use regularly; no great hardship). 2) There are people who spend money like there's no tomorrow, have $100's of apps, but also wouldn't think twice about spending it again. People who just pay for everything, because they must have the shiniest and newest things; these people will happily spend the money again, if th

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Even for iOS users hundreds of dollars in apps is very very rare. iOS users spend 25-70x as much on apps per user as Android users. Moreover BB10 offers an Android emulator.

  • BES? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:56PM (#42815321) Journal

    Does it still need a BES server to interact with the corporate environment? Is it still a mess of expensive licensing and support? The first person who walks into my office to show me their shiny new BB10 and wants to get his company e-mail on it is going to be sorely disappointed when he finds out that he just blew $300 and a two year contract on a phone that won't work with our network because there isn't a chance in Hell that I'm spinning up another BES. Not now, not ever again. It was Good Riddance when I finally kicked that crap to the curb.

    • by qamerr (1618331)
      These are the highlights I jotted down from an article I read when doing some quick research at work:
      • BES won't manage BlackBerry 10 devices, and RIM won't upgrade BES to do so. Instead, the imminent BES 5.0.4 is the end of the road, though it will be supported for the foreseeable future.
      • RIM now says it will ship a new mobile management server called BlackBerry Device Service to manage BlackBerry 10 devices. But BDS won't manage today's BlackBerrys.
      • At the end of the day, this means an organization will need
    • by acoustix (123925)

      Does it still need a BES server to interact with the corporate environment?

      Newsflash: Any device using ActiveSync still needs 3rd party software to properly lock it down. AS is a joke. It is sad that Microsoft, Apple and Google are throwing these devices out there for the public to use without any means of managing them in a corporate environment. So now instead of using BES you have to go to Zenprise, Good, Dell KACE, etc. to properly manage ActiveSync profiles and protect company data.

    • It was Good Riddance when I finally kicked that crap to the curb.

      I don't doubt that a system with the number of security/maintenance/update options as BES is a challenge to get your head around, and that is has some very strange quirks indeed, but I worry that you are more concerned about how easy your life is than about the security of your company's data.

      BES is difficult/complex in order to enable the granularity of its offerings so that the company has secure content and up-to-date apps, and that this is virtually invisible to the many phone users. Undoubtedly it co

      • by Scutter (18425)

        I didn't say it was complex and difficult for me. I said the software licensing and support were an expensive mess. I don't know where you got any of what you're accusing me of.

    • Although I guess they're technically doing away with the traditional BES for BB10 devices, they still have some type of server product you have to install that serves a similar function. This is both a key to the power of BB10 and a real roadblock to adoption -- especially if the software is going to cost money!

      The BB users don't really see or care much about the server side of things, but corporate I.T. sure does. Traditionally, small businesses were in for a pretty serious expense if they wanted to add B

      • by Scutter (18425)

        Yeah, the dual profile feature sounds really nice. I wish more phones did that. It'll be interesting to see how well that works out and what kind of security holes will appear.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:06PM (#42815407)

    Any company that lets a 'new guy on the block' run with your ball for 6 years before you challenge him has been smoking way to much weed.

  • by 200_success (623160) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:17PM (#42815531)
    If Steve Jobs weren't dead already, he would be so regretful of the fact that he could have produced a phone with no button on the front.
    • by Mr Z (6791)
      Next up: A phone with a negative number of buttons! It removes buttons from other objects it comes in contact with.
  • They better (Score:5, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:32PM (#42815683)
    because: http://i.imgur.com/x7oce.jpg [imgur.com]
  • I don't care if it doesn't have hundreds of thousands of apps. From what I've read, BlackBerry 10 appears to be the answer to the horrific privacy problems known as iOS and Android. User-selectable application permissions so I can put a leash on those apps that want more of my data than they should. File encryption so a lost/stolen phone is a little less risky. Built-in CalDAV and CardDAV so I can sync my calendar and contacts with the server of my choice instead of handing all that information to Google. Y

    • by Qwavel (733416)

      The build-in CalDAV and CardDAV are broken. It is Google pushing those standards - RIM and MS are pushing back. Hopefully RIM fixes their support.

      User-selectable permissions sounds great. I didn't realize it had that.

  • by Brett Chandler (2834879) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:58PM (#42815917)
    It may well be that no matter how good BB10 really is, it just might be too late to save BlackBerry. Or maybe it will turn out to be so spectacularly good that all other platforms will be abandoned. The thing is, we have no idea what BB10's impact will be on BlackBerry until it's been out in the market for a while. It isn't up to writers to determine BB's future, it's the paying customers who have the most say. Here's the case for BB's survival: 1) Smartphone market penetration isn't 100%, not even in the US--every month there are new users entering the smartphone market 2) Not all smartphone users even care about apps; in fact, I've come across a number of people who seem to be almost "anti-app"; these users won't be so invested in either iOS or Android that migrating to a different platform will pose much hardship 3) Many seasoned smartphone veterans have come to HATE the iOS keyboard, and I can tell you anyone who sees the BB10 walks away impressed (in fairness, there ARE good alternative keyboards for Android, but even there BB10 enjoys an edge) Finally, BB10 seems to have had more thought given to actual, day-to-day usability. That isn't sexy, and it isn't easy to demonstrate in 3 minutes in a phone shop. What I think it stands a chance of doing, though, is building a base of committed customers who will spread legitimate word of mouth.
  • Even outside of the mainstream Canadian media, it seems like the new BB is getting a good reception and is moving out of stores. I'm guessing that a lot of people are like me: they buy a phone and keep it for at least a couple of years; they use it heavily for e-mail and related tasks; they don't care about "skins" or Angry Birds or iTunes or YouTube - they want a reliable tool.

    I'm looking at the new Blackberrys to replace my Google phone not because I want or need BIS, but because I find the Nexus just
    • by jbolden (176878)

      In terms of regular settings... BlackBerry provides OS updates for their own phones. This is totally unlike Android and more like Apple. BlackBerry has a good reputation but they can do whatever they want.

      As far as configuration and what you can turn off... I'm not sure what you mean at all.

    • by puto (533470)
      There has been a mod for that for months to turn off the shutter click. Google is still your friend. Also, an App Called Defender will fix your battery woes. But if you are running wifi, you are in one location? Why would you need cel radios and GPS on? To find your bathroom? My s2 went to ICS, and Jellybean, pick your products wisely.
  • They've got their critics and the best thing anyone can say is their revenue looks to be trending downward. Call me when they've declared bankruptcy. They have a neat looking phone on the market and all I hear about it is "well they can't possibly compete with Apple or Androids."

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