BlackBerry 10 OS: Even tech companies gain by sticking to their knitting

Technology firms are usually praised for innovation. But sometimes, it's best to get the basics right.

Inside the enterprise: The last few years have been tough for BlackBerry. The company has seen its share price share fall and its co-CEOs leave, courted controversy through some of its celebrity associations, and even been linked – through its BBM messaging system – to the 2011 riots in the UK. Its Playbook tablet flopped, as other makers' devices flew off the shelves.

But above all, the device that gave us mobile email (and sore thumbs) has seen its market share fall. Analysts Kantar put BlackBerry's market share at just 5.1 per cent for the three months to February, down from 16.8 per cent a year ago.

The company's third place in the smartphone market owes more to poor sales of rivals – notably Windows Phone – and Nokia's scaling down of Symbian – than any real efforts by BlackBerry itself.

But there are signs that the company, and the OS, is making a recovery of sorts. The new BlackBerry 10 software is long overdue, but has received favourable reviews. The first phone running the OS, the Z10, has also been well received. But the real turnaround may well come from the QWERTY-keyboard touting Q10.

The Z10 is a pleasant enough phone, but could be easily be mistaken for Android or a Windows 8 device. The Q10 is clearly, and distinctly, a BlackBerry, complete with that thumb-stretching keypad. And there is a market for a smartphone with a keypad, and not just among enterprise users.

According to reports, early shipments of the Q10 sold out in the UK, although an undercover investigation by our sister title PC Pro found there was still stock available. Certainly, retailers report plenty of interest in the Q10 from buyers who want a BlackBerry that looks and works like, err, a BlackBerry.

If this signifies that BlackBerry is going back to basics, then this is no bad thing. Being focused, or "sticking to the knitting", as the business guru Tom Peters described it, is often the most successful strategy, even in innovation-hungry sectors such as technology.

For every company that has succeeded in breaking into new markets or developing revolutionary new products, there is at least one that has overreached itself. That was, in part, what went wrong at BlackBerry – then RIM – when it tried to go after the consumer and youth markets.

The BlackBerry Q5, a lower-cost QWERTY-based phone aimed at emerging markets, and announced this week, suggests management understands this. But the Q5 is not a hugely innovative design. Rather, it has many of the features that appeal to existing BlackBerry users, married with the new operating system.

If BlackBerry can deliver their new phones on time, at the right price, and ensure they are reliable, then the business could turn the corner, and give enterprise smartphone buyers a useful further option. Sticking to the knitting, perhaps with a smattering of innovation, is no bad thing.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

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The Q10 is a great device with a keyboard that is the best in the market and better than any previous blackberry. The software is where some people may have trouble adjusting to, especially when some people are very used to having a track pad a call and hang up button. Gestures will have a learning curve but its none the less a great phone but don't be surprised when a few BB loyalists can't stand the software.

What a horrible article... I have read some very bad biased garbage but this one takes the cake. First claiming that BB is in third because of 'poor competition' is completely idiotic. MS has been investing millions into making the W8 phone successful and has actually made a very stellar competitor, probably the best competition the W8 can hope for.
Also, Rim/BB reported that the BB's were selling out, not that they were sold out in Britain. There is a very clear difference. And that 'our undercover investigation' is complete rubbish. The whole process of your investigation consisted of having a person look at you and say 'BB isn't selling out, it is selling horribly. these are the facts. PUBLISH THEM'.
The thing that gets me the most is how you say that the Z10 looks extremely similar to the android and WP8... I can agree with the android but saying the Z10 looks like the WP8 is like saying an apple looks like an orange. I'm not even sure if you've even seen a Z10 at this point now because its interface and virtual design is completely different from WP8. The only thing I could possibly think is similar is maybe the look of the hardware (depending on the phone) but that's a given considering most phones these days look the same hardware wise.
Anyways, I just stumbled upon this site and learned after reading only one article how uninformed, biased, and inaccurate this site really is.

i wanted the z10 been a previous 9700 bold user but was put off by how much it cost per month on contract and that it processor wasn't the best it could be ..... they should of flooded the market and made it cheaper, if u want iphone contract prices u need iphone equivalent processors