Three years of BlackBerry 10

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Three years ago today I hopped a bus out to the Koodo store in our local mall to plunk down $650 to buy the BlackBerry Z10. I think this was the most anticipated tech purchase I’ve ever made and I couldn’t have been happier.

I thought that both the hardware and software were so solid and had so much promise that I did something I’d never done before within the month: bought shares in the company. At the time I thought I’d either double my money or it would go to zero within a year. I was wrong.

Well, I may have thought that BlackBerry OS 10 was second to none, but the broader market shrugged and BlackBerry’s market share and company size has been dwindling since. Just yesterday the company let another 200 engineers go, including most of their remaining hardware people. It’s been a sad, slow demise. The current CEO is turning the company around by focusing on enterprise software, but what made BlackBerry BlackBerry is pretty much over.

I’m composing this on my BlackBerry Passport. It is hands down the best phone I’ve used. In fact, I think it may be one of the best computing devices I’ve used. I’ve owned it for almost a year now, with the Z30, Q10, and Z10 before it. I’ve owned all BlackBerry OS 10 devices except for the Classic, Z3, and Leap. (the last two being lower end versions of the Z10 and Z30 respectively.)

Overall, this has been the best three years of smartphone use for me. Because of this, I find it sad that OS 10 is being relegated to the sidelines. The Android and iOS bulldozers continue to charge ahead, sucking the air out of the room for any other alternatives. Windows Phone looks to be in a similar state platform-wise to BlackBerry OS, webOS is long gone, as is Symbian. Ubuntu’s Phone OS looks to be stalled, Jolla isn’t doing any better, and Firefox OS also looks to be stillborn.

Of all of these platforms, I still firmly believe that BlackBerry OS 10 is the best technological foundation. It should have had a chance, alas, it’s pretty much done.

BlackBerry has literally spent billions of dollars developing a unique and outstanding platform that is the most efficient computing platform I’ve used. They have an abandoned SDK that was well designed, developed, and executed. They have a unique approach to how to get things done, and truly unique software, like Blend, that allows you to securely, privately access your phone from another computer or your computer from your phone. As of February 2016, I haven’t seem similar functionality on any other platform. Yet clearly no one cares.

The Hub, cloud storage integration, Blend, true multitasking, there are many unique and valuable innovations to be found in OS 10. I find it the most fluid and productive computing platform to use. Not mobile platform, computing platform. Saddly, the market hasn’t given it a chance, and BlackBerry’s outstanding engineers and techical visionaries are no match for the company’s management and marketing ineptitude.

By 2016, market consolidation and the sheer scale of mobile computing are making things impossible for a company as comparatively small as BlackBerry to do anything other than jump ship to Android and focus on software. It is a true shame but one that BlackBerry really has no one other than itself to blame.

Thankfully, BlackBerry software continues to impress me. I plan to use the Passport until it gives out. Perhaps I’ll move to the Android-based Priv if it’s still available when the Passport gives out. I have tried sideloading BlackBerry’s software to another Android phone I own and it singlehandedly elevated the OS to a usable state for me. If I had to move away from BlackBerry OS 10, at least they’ve given me somewhere to move to. I now wish they’d decouple software from hardware and simply sell their excellent Android apps. Perhaps this will happen in the next three years.

GoSaBe Blog - Feb 6, 2016 | BlackBerry