This edition of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona could well have been a throwback to 2010 or 2011. What else could have explained BlackBerry being the first launch event, and Nokia being the most sought after entry pass in 2017 edition of the annual congregation of the top mobile manufacturers and companies in the world. However, that might not really be good news for the mobile industry on the whole.
Let’s face it, the smartphone industry has been struggling for innovative ideas — at least those that work and bring some value to the consumer — for some time now. Right from Apple to Samsung, no one has really pushed the envelope with a really innovative feature over the past couple of years. At such a time, for two big brands of the past try to woo the future with what they did well in the past, can only mean the the future of smartphone innovation does not look at that bright.
What else is making news:
The BlackBerry KeyOne will bring the BlackBerry’s unique keyboard to the new Android smartphone. Well, it’s not as if the BlackBerry keyboard is making a comeback. You had it take a new avatar in the BlackBerry Passport as well as the Q10. Both were not great success for the Canadian smartphone company.
Now, to offer a keyboard, albeit better and smarter — yes, making the most of the Android 7.1 OS — on a 2017 smartphone might not be a great business idea if you are thinking in terms of volume. If BlackBerry had been quicker to the draw, offered an Android smartphone with BlackBerry’s keyboard and security earlier on, it might have been better off right now. The delay has meant everyone and my mother can now use a touchscreen well, for whatever they want to do on a smartphone screen. That is an opportunity lost, and not really an opportunity that is hanging in the air.
The other big feature that BlackBerry drums about is its security. There is no doubt that BlackBerry is a way ahead of everyone else when it comes to securing devices and data. But this is not a problem everyone is bothered about. Enterprises yes, but even they have now opened up to the concept for letting staff use their own devices and trying to protect their data in whichever way they can. Getting a secure device into the mix might not really what everyone has on the top of their minds, unless you are harbouring ambitions of running for POTUS in the coming years. That seems to be something that can be achieved far more easily than BlackBerry can regain its smartphone glory.
Jokes apart, the world wants to see a really innovative device. Can anyone think of a device that can retain its battery life for two days without packing in a 5000 mAh battery? Can there be a device that offers a stable network, even in low bandwidth situations? Can there be a device that clicks a good photo even in low light? Well, these are the problems that customers want to be solved now, and these are still the problems the smartphone companies are struggling with for ages.
Yes, BlackBerry is playing to its fans, but how many will switch from an existing phone to buy a new smartphone that is not even manufactured by BlackBerry. At $549, BlackBerry must sure hope there are enough people who think the keyboard and security are really big issues for them when it comes to a smartphone.
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