It's no secret that RIM's BlackBerry is a bit behind the times—sure, the phones work great, but what about music, videos, social media, and all that cool, hip stuff? (Sarcasm intended.)
Well, all that and more is coming in BlackBerry 6.0.
RIM isn't reinventing the wheel with BlackBerry 6.0, but it is catching up with much of the new functionality that the iPhone and Android have released in the last year or two. See the video below for a quick run-through of what's new:
Here's what we can extract from the video on what's next:
More touch screens and enhanced UI. While it's true that there are two BlackBerry touch screen phones (the Storm and Storm 2), so far RIM has mostly promoted (and succeeded with) button-based smartphones. And the Storm fell pretty flat, most likely due to a poor user experience.
If the above video is any indication, that's going to change. Flip paging, pinch zoom, and all the features that you've come to expect from a touch screen will be available on BlackBerry 6.0 devices.
Social media integration. Like with Android and the iPhone, you'll be able to easily skim updates from a variety of social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and post back to multiple platforms with one message. It's nothing new, but it is an important feature for business users that make frequent use of social media.
Apps. RIM is enhancing App World, its apps store. The company just hasn't said how. I would start with the price for developers: at $200 to register, only the serious players are even going to mess around with BlackBerry's App World. And sure, that means many of the useful enterprise-based apps will be available, but potential smartphone buyers like to hear that there are 50,000 apps available, not 500.
Where Does this Leave BlackBerry?
Here's the question everyone is asking: Is BlackBerry 6.0 going to kickstart a BlackBerry comeback?
Considering that BlackBerry smartphones are, to date, the most popular smartphones on the market, I'm not really sure how to answer that question. Blackberrys are selling well and will continue to. BlackBerry 6.0 is a good step forward, and it will keep loyal BlackBerry fans by bringing them into the latest smartphone functionality. But without video conferencing, a powerful and well-stocked app store, or the "cool factor" that Android and iPhone have, it's unlikely RIM will make many inroads on the consumer market.
And why should they bother trying, when they've secured such a valuable place in the enterprise mobility marketplace? By building powerful enterprise support and also moving toward user-oriented features, RIM is ensuring the BlackBerry platform remains relevant for business users, even as the iPhone and Android attempt to gain more business-oriented features.
RIM's biggest mistake would be to try and go after the consumer market directly, KIN style. The original video that RIM released for BlackBerry 6.0, which (poorly) attempts to have a "cool factor" with a hip Black Eyed Peas song jamming in the background, worries me that RIM might repeat KIN's mistakes with some of its upcoming devices. (Video below for your viewing pleasure.)
For RIM's sake, I hope the company sticks to its guns.