Monday, April 15, 2013
The latest salvo in the smartphone wars by Blackberry (formerly RIM) is the BB Z10, launched on January 30 in Canada. The risk is the same as with any product hope you have a hit. It looks like Blackberry did its homework and followed the textbook product launch template of a market leader with a big marketing budget.

In a previous blog post last June on the Playbook, I said Blackberry was doing some good things with its product design. The BB Z10 user experience is built upon that same foundation. The user experiences are very similar, with the use of a swiping motion for navigation versus the button approach. You could say that this is the smartphone version of the Playbook.
The BB Z10 is a fast machine with a 1.5 GHZ dual core, 2 G of ram, a 4.2” screen, weighing 135.4 grams. Its dimensions are 130 mm x 65.6 mm x 9 mm. It has a durable rubber textured metal shell giving it a sleek, rugged feel.

After playing with the BB Z10, I felt that hardware feature sets are starting to plateau as all devices are doing the same things. Smartphones are settling into a standard hardware configuration: it is a cell phone, camera and mobile computer, with touch interface and voice controls.

Blackberry has created a product with its core customer in mind—governments, corporations, SMBs and women. But, it needs to make its user experience better than the Apple iPhone to move ahead. Let’s see if it was able to do that. Here are some of the key new features that make the BB different.

Talk, Text, Email, Social Message Hub
The BB Z10 has a communications hub feature where all your messages and calls can be logged into a single feed. In today's 24/7 society you may use voice, text, email or social to communicate, and with the BB Z10 this can all be collected in one inbox to make your life a little less complicated.

Big Fingers, Little Keys Syndrome
The touch keyboard design of the BB Z10 offers fewer typos when typing and an artificial intelligence feature called predictive typing. This feature provides contextual word suggestions based on the ones you use most. The 4.2” screen is bigger than the 3.5” models, which makes typing easier through more screen real estate, yet it is still pocket sized. A physical keyboard model (Blackberry Q10) will be coming in the next product release.
Blackberry Balance
The BB Z10 enables companies to use a device partition between personal and business, which allows IT departments to have better security and control of company secrets. This is a smart play to address the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend for large corporations.

Photo-Editing Software for Picture Lovers

Women use more social media and have a higher presence on photo-centric sites like Instagram and Pinterest than men, and to get this user more engaged with its camera, Blackberry is offering a photo-editing suite to manage photos and post them on social networking sites. The big social media trend right now is picture sharing.

One new software feature that I noticed was the ability to support mobile payments. I discovered at the recent DX3 digital trade show this March in Toronto that Pay Pal account holders will be able to purchase products via their smartphone with an online ordering and store pick-up system with participating retailers. The mobile wallet is coming next to your smartphone.

The BB Z10 allows you to multitask as you can have two or more apps open at once. In Apple and Android you can only have one open at a time and you need to hit the button to switch on most devices. In the BB Z10 it is a swiping motion between apps which makes the navigation experience easier when multitasking.

Ryan Winsborrow of gives the BB Z10 a 4 out 5 rating; he liked that it was fast and powerful but lowered the rating because he cannot get all the apps he wants. App selection is changing fast and as of this writing there are now 100,000 apps in the Blackberry World store to choose from, up from 70,000 when the BB Z10 was announced in January. There is still some work to do for Blackberry in its reinvention as a consumer electronics company. It has created a smartphone that is a player, but not a category killer or creator.

As the utility of the smartphone increases, publishers will have to be mindful of the increase of picture sharing as part of their social media strategy and examine how to be a key content partner in the mobile e-commerce wave as part of their future business models. Some of the buzz in the digital ad community is “ Real Time Marketing” technologies, but that is next month’s blog.

Rating - 4 out of 5

Playing off of this month’s topic, I wanted to ask what you look for in a smartphone. How are Masthead readers using their devices?

Please rank the options below by time spent, with notch 1 (on the left) being the most. Feel free to leave a comment as always, and I’ll be back with the findings.
What do you do most on your phone?

About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

Most Recent Blog Comment
Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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