From Waterloo to London, with love

So, Valentine’s day is upon us.
Millions upon Billions of men across the globe are starting to think about Valentine’s day.
I’m here to show a little love to the home town crew at Waterloo.
Today I came across a very interesting article, read it from Engadget here.

It’s a really sweet looking phone. Sleek, matte, and a very big shift in the traditional design for the Waterloo crew.

Snagged this snapshot on here.

Is this a bold move on their part?
It is, and it isn’t.

I’ll explain by making a slight digression…

Although the company is in desperate need of innovations, but they really need to re-evaluate what is their enduring endearing point for their current customer/fan base.
My hunch is that they are still garnering support based on two points:
1. Enterprise/business integration (email, BES etc)
2. Physical keyboard

It used to be that Blackberry’s are a symbol of corporate success. Not that long ago, every graduate from a business program would either be already using a Blackberry or would “upgrade” their Nokia (yes, their Nokia phone) or Sony Ericsson (yes, back then they were still a couple) to a Blackberry. Ah, those were the glory days of those companies. Of course, when every business person owns (with pride) a Blackberry device, the brand becomes extremely sought after as a status symbol.
Frankly, since Apple release the iPhone, there was has been shift in the perception of what is considered the new prestigious status symbol.
Along came Sammy (allegedly-on a side note: many others were “prototyping” Apple’s design; for example: HTC) copying the design of the iPhone (read one of the most popular posts here on this topic). This further cemented the Big A’s design as the top dog in the industry.
But going back to RIM.
Is it really such a great idea to ditch your one USP and “innovate” by following the general industry’s design?
Is that really innovating?

Granted all the phones with a physical keyboard that have been on the market in recent years kinda sucked and was lacklustre.
Case in point: the Droid series, Palm Pre
At first, both seemed like physical keyboard’s second coming. But both flopped out.
Given this track record, it doesn’t make sense to bet the company on physical keyboards.

But with all that noise in the market and every other phone looking extremely similar to the next, what can make Blackberry’s stand out nowadays?
Surely it’s not the BB App World.
BBM? iMessage, Whatsapp say, “What’s up”.
BES? Possibly. But Microsoft also has a very good hold on the corporate/enterprise solutions market. Also, Mango seems deliciously good.

Frankly, I’d spend more time on reinventing the physical keyboard. Make a device that people would love to caress with both hands. Size the device so that it sits perfectly in two palms or one. Design it so that it makes touch typist feel at home with the ergonomics.

I actually am working on a few sketches for this along those lines. Perhaps I’ll upload it when it’s ready.
/end digression

Back to the point: is it a bold move.
No, because technically all they are doing is following the industry trend on what is popular and what works.
Yes, because this is a drastic change from what their traditional designs are. Users may not want to adopt this.

But seriously, all these are just superficial fixes. Curing the symptoms and not the root cause.
As I mentioned before, it isn’t product redesign that would keep the company competitive. They need a company-wide restructuring and corporate culture/process-oriented refresh. Why products cannot meet deadlines and launch dates is symptomatic of a process problem.
Software: Focus on the OS (BB10, or BB Roman Numeral 10 – Haha, BBX is not copyrighted by RIM).
Hardware: Focus on phone design (Please, pleasePLEASE don’t make another dud like the Torch/Storm… Go along the lines of Bold)
Process: Focus on streamlining the process from product conceptualization to hardware design to distribution. Facilitate communication and information dissemination effectively so that inefficiencies do not build up in the information pipeline.

Note: Excuse any mistakes or if this was poorly written. I only had 15hrs of sleep in the past 4 days…