This Is BlackBerry's Last Chance To Beat The iPhone

BlackBerry 10 Dev

Photo: TechnoBuffalo

RIM will completely revamp its BlackBerry line later this year with a new operating system called BlackBerry 10. We already got a sneak peek at some of the features a few weeks ago, but it’s obvious the software is still in the very early stages right now.

RIM is essentially betting the company that BB10 will be a killer platform and help it gain back some of the ground it lost to the iPhone and Android. 

So what does it need to accomplish that? We’ve been playing around with a current BlackBerry phone for the last few days and we have some ideas.

Better app selection

This is one of the most severe drawbacks to BlackBerry at the moment. Many developers ignore BlackBerry in favour of iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone. The new BlackBerry 10 software will be able to run Android apps, but developers still need to take the extra step to submit their apps to RIM.

It's easier said than done, but RIM needs to figure out how to get developers excited about BB10 and the next generation devices. Otherwise, iOS and Android will continue getting all the best and most innovative apps.

Unique hardware design

One of the things that makes phones like the iPhone and Nokia Lumia 900 stand out is their clever hardware design. It's going to be tough to get potential customers excited about a phone that looks like just another cookie-cutter Android phone.

It's very possible RIM realises this. We've already seen a few leaked photos of what could be the first BlackBerry 10 phone. And it looks really good.

Compatibility with PlayBook apps

Luckily, we already know this is happening for the next BlackBerrys. One of the great things about Android and iOS is that apps are compatible on both tablets and smartphones. All you have to do is log in with your Google or Apple account and you have your apps ready to go on any device.

RIM has already said the BlackBerry 10 phones will be able to run PlayBook apps and vice versa.

Access to robust selection of music, movies, and TV shows

We love taking our music and movies with us on the go. But as it stands, BlackBerry has a pretty wimpy selection of downloadable music, movies, and TV shows. Again, it's easier said than done, but RIM seriously needs to beef up its content offerings if it ever hopes to compete with iTunes.

Speaking of music, BBM Music has to go

RIM introduced a streaming music service for BlackBerrys called BBM Music last year. Critics, including us, immediately dumped on the product. Unlike Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, etc., BBM music doesn't give you unlimited streaming options.

BBM Music only gives you access to 50 songs at a time. You can swap out 25 songs per month. You can also listen to playlists from your BBM friends.

The service feels more restrictive than the other streaming music options out there. RIM should either kill it or pivot BBM Music into something like iTunes Match.

An interface that isn't just a rehash of iOS and Android

If there's one thing we learned from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, it's that you can make a beautiful, functional mobile operating system that isn't just a clone of iOS and Android.

If RIM wants to wow us with BlackBerry 10, it needs to do the same. Another simple home screen with squared icons and widgets isn't going to cut it. Let's see something completely different.

The photo here, which is allegedly a leaked build of BlackBerry 10, doesn't exactly instill confidence that RIM is trying something new.

Integration with other popular services like Evernote and Dropbox

We've already seen hints in the PlayBook's latest update that integration with third-party services could be coming to BlackBerry 10. The PlayBook lets you hook up your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook account. But we're hoping for more. We'd love built-in support for Dropbox, Box, Evernote, and others.

Open BBM to other platforms

BBM used to be the killer feature on BlackBerrys. But as people abandon BlackBerrys for other devices, it's becoming more and more useless.

RIM would be smart to open BBM up to other platforms with the release of BlackBerry 10. That way BlackBerry users will still be able to use their favourite app to keep in touch with their friends.

Give us a touchscreen-only phone

RIM already said it'll still have keyboards on BlackBerry 10 phones, but we're hoping there's a touchscreen-only model too.

Keyboards are nice for some, but it's obvious the industry -- and users -- prefer a bigger touchscreen.

Based on the leaks and prototype BlackBerry 10 device we've seen, RIM will likely have at least one touchscreen-only phone this year.

Make it affordable

We think it was insanely smart of Nokia to offer its flagship Lumia 900 phone for just $100 on contract. It obviously worked as the phone seems to be one of the best-selling devices on the network.

If RIM can pull off a ~$100 BlackBerry 10 phone, it'd look very attractive to new buyers.

What did we miss?

We're sure there are other features you'd like to see in BlackBerry 10. Tell us what they are in the comments!

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