BlackBerry Z10: Beautiful Phone, Good Experience, Missing Apps, Playing Serious Catchup . . .

The Z10 is a beautiful device: designers Todd Wood, Don Lindsay, and their teams have done a great job with the industrial design, the swipe-rich interaction gestures, and a whole lot more. The Z10 is a pleasure to hold, to swipe, and to carry around in a suit pants pocket.

Here are my favorite bits:

  • Thin, light, elegant, executive, with a holdable form factor and case.
  • The keyboard, with its predictive word look up and "flip into place" word completion is a pleasure for this thick-thumbed, fumble-finger typer.
  • Swipe gestures, including peeking into the inbox, the slow swipe to home position, and the pulldown configuration are a pleasure to use one-handed.

The device does have many apps, Twitter and Facebook among them. Alas, some of the apps I rely on are missing. No TripIt app. No Evernote app. No Flipboard app. No Expensify app. No Words With Friends app. And more troubling, I found one app that appeared to be a Chinese counterfeit and seems now to have been so. Maybe RIM's "portothon" strategy to help Android developers port their apps to BlackBerry's QNX operating system is working. But there may be a few approval and copyright holes to plug in their process. I know this company, and I know they'll figure that part out.

But the real challenge for CIOs is that employees have moved on to Apple and Android (particularly Samsung's stellar lineup). Forrester surveys the information workforce globally to find out how they use technology to get work done. It's a goldmine of insight and reality. And the reality for the US market is that for firms of all sizes and industries, BlackBerry has only 6% of the information workforce installed base. So BlackBerry is playing some serious catchup. See the data chart at the end of the post. For a view of the consumer landscape, see my colleague Charlie Golvin's post

Here's what CIOs should do:

  • Upgrade your BES so you're ready to support the new BlackBerry devices. You'll be able to manage iOS and Android devices as well. RIM BlackBerry is making this relatively painless to do.
  • Add Z10 and its cousin Q10 with a keyboard to your approved list. It will pass muster with your security team.
  • Experiment with the dual-mode -- personal + work -- features to see if it works for your workforce and if it solves your device-wipe/content-control problem. (I'm still skeptical on this one, but hey I've been wrong before.)
  • Wait for the demand. That RIMBlackBerry's job: to convince your employees that this is the device for them.

Then and only then should you target Z10 or Q10 for your business apps. In other words, take a "get ready then wait" approach. I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for this operating system and platform if only to have more choice in the market.

Figure 1: There's Still Many Employees To Go Win, But BlackBerry Is A Distant Third In The Installed Base Of US Employees