Sunday, May 6, 2012

S.O.S - Blackberry

That Research in Motion (RIM) has hit an iceberg and is sinking faster than the Titanic is a known fact. Amidst all the desperate tries to save the once grand and unsinkable RIM, is an S.O.S. call to the companies' finest. The S.O.S called Blackberry 10. Recently, RIM launched the prototype of the Blackberry 10; all touch, the screening appearing to have tiles similar to those of the Microsoft OS. Whatever they have come with to battle the i-phone and the android devices did not seem to convince investors as RIM's value dropped despite the launch of the prototype.

Like many theories that have been propounded on how the Titanic could have been saved, here is mine to save what was once the symbol of security and reliability in telecommunication. Let us look back 5 years and reflect on why it made sense to have a Blackberry. Clearly, you don't remember. Blackberry's then were only for the business class, the rich and powerful who turned around billions over emails. They carried an ugly looking small version of a hammer, or a stone with keys enough to kill someone with a blow to the head, and yet many looked on, wondering whether they will ever get there. 

Let us now look back 2 years; blackberry plans have become pre-paid, the device much sleeker and less expensive, and the magic days of short-message-service (SMS) are waning. Everyone now wants a blackberry. The question is why? Why have the "Blackberry Boys" been taken out of their exclusive league? The answers are many and each one drives home what the S.O.S to the companies' thinkers should be:

1. The average college going kid required to check his email. For parties around town, to fetch the facebook updates on email, and somewhere in all the fun get to know what materials have been sent for tomorrows class, or whether it has been cancelled. Coupled with this was the sudden craze of sharing everything, a status, a picture, a voice note, and the unheard of, a 'read message' notification. In all this frenzy came along the sync with Gmail and the result was mind-blowing. No need for backups, lost numbers, messages, calendars; one device could get your whole world into your palm.

2. The business man: well for those who understand why a Blackberry is important to business this may sound too brief, but for the uninitiated, emails with projects, deadlines, updates, marking your boss, your team from wherever you are, downloading attachments and keeping in touch with colleagues over BBM made the world a different place to do business in.

3. The employers chose Blackberry for their reliability, security and the all important real time push email service. Enterprise servers could be setup, mails could be traced, tracked, locked etc. 

Everything was going all well and the folks on board the Titanic were having a good time, when the iceberg called the i-phone hit and made history. Numerous solutions have been offered to how RIM can be turned around, how Blackberry has lost its appeal to the customers. In my view, its because RIM is trying to be what it is not.

What Blackberry 10 ought to do is focus on how it started, to the crowd it mattered and that will get it right for everyone else. First and foremost, we want a blackberry for our emails. A device which can delivers to us our precious updates, projects, attachments etc, effortlessly and control our mailboxes. So what is missing then? The ability to file them to folders, use labels, auto detect email address and separate the business from the personal. A better remote search for the emails and apps that can help edit the attachments on the go. 

Having used a galaxy note for a few months and of and on friends' i-phone and all the gadgets I realize that all the pomp and show fades soon and all you want to do is answer calls, send text messages quickly, get your mail and be in touch with friends over a chat service. The rest is like a statute in built in honour, launched with ceremony and flamboyance only to be walked past the people not knowing whose statute it is. Ask yourself have you ever tried to voice command your phone to find a burger place while you are in your office? You would seem stupid in front of people talking to your phone ordering it to call "Shyam" when it refuses to recognize your accent. Tell me truly how many videos would you like to watch on a hand held device while you are at home with the luxury of watching it on your larger laptop screen or television. For the voracious readers, unless you are frequent traveler, causing strain to your eyes and neck isn't exactly the fun of reading (I understand that many would disagree with this).

So what Blackberry ought to do is focus on building a smartphone which will ease communication and give the option of entertainment freaks a larger screen to watch a movie or play a game. Apart from that, it should just be a phone with excellent battery life, better network coverage, faster browsing, wifi capabilities and more importantly the ability to organize and differentiate personal from business. Add to that the ever so awesome BBM. I am one of those who believes RIM could save itself by making its platform open source, but apart from that just the assurance that a message on BBM would deliver the world over in a split second is more than the assurance I demand from my cell phone. 

For the ever customized needs, let apps do the trick, allow plug-ins, but what I really do not want, is another i-phone or galaxy under the Blackberry brand, because that is not why I would buy it. I would buy it for a sleek design, packed with performance and the ease of tailoring it to my needs. I just need my emails and browsing, safe and secure with the ability to chat without interruptions and my device being able to sync all my accounts, calendars and activities into one. 

I think in the mad gadget race with features, to be a long time winner, all Blackberry has to do is keep it simple.