Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the once-dominant BlackBerry platform, has announced the launch date of its BlackBerry 10 phones to be January 30 by all the major US carriers except Sprint, who has promised a BB10 phone later in the year. Many analysts believe that this launch is the last-ditch effort by RIM to regain relevance in an industry dominated by iPhone and Android devices, and just as many have already counted them out.
What this means for you:
If you are one of the dwindling BlackBerry faithful, there is a lot to whet your (by now, monstrous) appetite: the new RIM OS modern look and all new code-base (supposedly no carry-over code from older RIM OS’s) will hopefully update BlackBerry’s staid, corporate image. However, the new BB10 phones have multiple strikes against them:
- Developers for the “staple” apps (Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc) will undoubtedly develop versions of their omnipresent apps because they can fund the development off the backs of their profitable iOS and Android counterparts, but don’t expect surprise hits from indie developers appearing on BB10 first – there just isn’t a large enough userbase to warrant the investment gamble. RIM has sponsored some recent events to kickstart development, but proof will be in whether BB10’s launch will be a repeat of Microsoft’s Windows Phone lackluster debut.
- BlackBerry’s current infrastructure has some serious redudancy flaws that has led to some titanic outages. Once viewed as the most reliable platform in the early days of smartphones, the series of recent, widespread outages has severely tarnished RIM’s image.
- RIM has been lapped by Apple and Google, OS-wise, at least 2 to 3 times now. RIM is just launching a competitor to phone OS’s that were developed years ago. Unless this horse can fly, there is no way BB10 is catching iOS6 or Jelly Bean in this race.
I suspect that RIM isn’t quite done – they still have a nice chunk of the market, but they aren’t going to supplant iPhones or Androids anytime soon.
CORRECTION: iOS 6 will work on iPhones from the 3GS version up. Thanks to Dave McAdams for catching that!
Apple will begin pushing the iOS6 update to its mobile device platforms on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. Along with the expected performance improvements and bug fixes, there are a handful of features that may of interest to Apple users who are not purchasing an iPhone 5.
Here are the most important changes:
- Google Maps will be replaced by Apple’s own Maps application
- Passbook is a brand new Apple app that they intend to replace paper ticketing for things like travel, movies, loyalty cards and more
- Facebook is now integrated into most of Apple’s native applications
- Siri’s search capabilities have been expanded to include things like sports scores, movie times, restaurant reservations and launching apps. It will also work on the latest iPad and the iPhone 4s, but not on older mobile devices.
- You can sync your Safari tabs between your mobile device and desktop Macs via iCloud.
- You can share photo streams with other iOS 6 users, as well as stream your photos to your Apple TV.
- Facetime can now be used on cellular networks, not just wifi.
What this mean to you:
If you are using an Apple mobile device that is NOT an iPhone
5, 4s 3GS or newer, or the 3rd generation iPad, then there’s nothing you need to worry about, as iOS 6 is not available for your device. However, if you do have a qualifying device, the upgrade will come in “over the air” if you already have iOS 5 installed. You will need to upgrade your iTunes software to version 10.7 if you plan on plugging your device into your computer. Before you upgrade, make sure you backup all of your important data (contacts, music, photos, etc.) as upgrades can go wrong, and if they do, it usually means wiping your device in order to restore it to functionality. Wiping = erasing all your personal data = disaster without a proper backup. If you rely on your phone as a critical business tool, including some 3rd-party apps, you may want to wait until you have some business downtime, just in case the upgrade goes sideways, or causes problems with your apps.