Blackberry 10 devices enter carriers testing with an anticipated January 2013 launch and no tablet BB10 story
03 November 2012

Blackberry 10 devices enter carriers testing with an anticipated January 2013 launch and no tablet BB10 story

BB10 is chugging along but without a tablet story for BB10 there is a big massive black hole in their strategy

The testing phase for the new BlackBerry 10 devices is an important step toward successfully launching BB10 phones, now planned for the first quarter of 2013. 

Analysts predict a January 2013 BB10 smartphone launch. Investors were given a strong sign that Blackberry's long-delayed do-or-die devices will finally reach store shelves early next year. March seems late and I am starting to lose faith in Blackberry's future. January 2013 would have been passable but by March 2013 the industry will be in a different place, especially with Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, iPad mini, 4th Generation iPad, Galaxy S4 on the scene. Even Kindle Fire poses a risk.

Blackberry has delayed the launch of BB10 two times and is betting the company on BlackBerry 10 devices, which run their new operating system. Smartphones matter but tablets are more relevant. Blackberry pushed out a BlackBerry 10 reload image for the Developer Alpha Devices. Hackers have used the BB10 Developer Alpha OS to run BlackBerry 10 on their PlayBooks because developers are desperate for a new operating system for the Playbook. 

There are plans to offer BB10 for the Playbook but in my opinion they need to ship BB10 for tablets and smartphones at the same time to really have a compelling launch. Blackberry does not have the resources to risk relaunching their failed PlayBook tablet with BB10 at the same time as the BB10 smartphone launch.

Everyone talks about smartphones but tablets are the new daily use computer. Laptops are fading into obsolescence. In fact I would purchase a Surface tablet with the keyboard cover as a replacement for my MacBook Air. With the BB10 launch they are going to still be behind with a fumbled, late to market tablet story. 

We will have to see how it goes but I am betting on Microsoft Surface and Windows Phone as being the underdog that will rise like the phoenix and be the dark horse for 2013.


Leaked BlackBerry Roadmap Details Handsets, Points to Larger PlayBook

A leaked PowerPoint slide (BlackBerryOS.com) shows the release of the PlayBook 4G (codenamed “Winchester”) in the fourth quarter of 2012. This updated tablet would run the current flavour of the BlackBerry OS (version 7), not BlackBerry 10. Does the world really need a PlayBook update? No one was very interested in buying the original. But, surprisingly, the PlayBook 4G isn’t the only tablet on the company’s road to a comeback.

The slide lists a larger tablet codenamed “Blackforest [128]” for the third quarter of 2013. The "128" could mean 128GB of storage — a bold move considering most tablets max out at 64GB of memory.

A 10-inch tablet would put Blackberry in direct competition with the iPad. This isn’t a good place to be in the tablet market. Blackberry’s first quarter results for 2012 demonstrated 260,000 PlayBooks sold. Compare that to Apple selling 11.8 million iPads during its second quarter of 2012, and it would appear that Blackberry would be taking on more of a challenge than it can win. Blackberry's tablet story is essential but looking at these numbers it appears bleak for Blackberry.

The reason Blackberry needs the Playbook is because users will want tablets that take advantage of their network's security and because Blackberry needs a complete portfolio of devices, including a tablet to appear competitive. It has nothing to do with generating revenue and has everything to do with relevance and strategy. But if you can't make money with a Blackberry tablet then how will it be financed? It is a really interesting dilemma.

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