For what seems a very long time now, we've ended almost all of our Research in Motion (RIM) coverage - most of which has been quite positive since the company's last truly negative news (when it announced it would need to postpone BlackBerry 10 from August/September 2012 to January 30, 2013) - with the admonition that RIM must absolutely deliver on the world's most amazing user experiences with its next wave of new mobile devices.
Whatever the next BlackBerry toys are going to be, they better deliver on an Applesque level of WOW factor or RIM can more or less kiss itself goodbye. It's the hardware that is going to matter first and foremost - the new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, which has many new and very cool features in its favor will never be enough to move users toward loving BlackBerry hardware. That has to happen on its own, and the hardware absolutely needs to lead to very powerful user desire to want one.
Nokia, in our humble opinion, clearly blew it on the WOW factor with the otherwise excellent Lumia 920 - a great phone that entirely lacks high-powered celebrity status. We believe that if given a chance by folks to test it out, the Nokia will likely stand on its own, enough so to carve out enough market share to keep Nokia in the game. RIM won't even have that luxury or that much wiggle room to survive. If it doesn't achieve high-powered celebrity status at launch it will be toast.
The above duly noted, thanks to several Asian websites (which are where the leaks for mobile devices always seem to spring from) we can now take a sort of first look at what the two toys RIM is expected to launch on January 30, 2013 - a touch-only BlackBerry and yet another one of its physical keyboard/small screen smartphones - are likely to look like.
Below, courtesy of Chinese website CnBeta, we have a photo of what may (or of course may not) be the next new physical keyboard BlackBerry.
Let's call it the X10 (we don't really know what it will be called). We can say this much for it - we're not excited. It is yet another derivative device. RIM will tell you that it must honor the desires of all those "rabid" physical keyboard fanatics out there and must supply it for its installed base of tens of millions of users. Well, OK - we understand that. But the device merely represents a means for RIM to hold on to its existing user base. In no way, shape or form does it represent RIM continuing to have a future.
That leaves us with the Z10 - RIM's new touchscreen smartphone. We're fairly certain that on January 30 next year the image below (which first appeared over at CrackBerry.com) shows what we'll likely see launched - but again we cannot be 100 percent sure.
This certainly looks more up-to-date with today's WOW-factor realities, and still it strikes us as lacking in that high-powered celebrity persona. Thanks to Vietnamese website Tinhte.vn, we can see a hands video of the new Z10 touch smartphone - which includes a quick side by side comparison with the iPhone 5 as well.
Maybe we're wrong - perhaps the combination of the new BlackBerry10 OS capabilities and the touch smartphone shown here do in fact deliver on the WOW factor necessary for success. For RIM's sake we certainly hope so. As the image below shows, the Z10 is larger than the iPhone 5, which may in fact prove to be a plus for it. It appears also to be much sturdier to us than the Samsung Galaxy S III - which we believe feels cheaply made.
In the meantime, we know that Samsung is working on new bendable screen technology, and we may actually see a working bendable smartphone from Samsung at the upcoming 2013 Mobile World Congress. Maybe. Nokia is working on its first real tablet (finally!) that is anticipated to feature a special new cover that supplies both a Microsoft Surface-inspired kickstand and additional battery power, which we may also possibly see at Mobile World Congress. Again, maybe.
The point here is that while the cutting edge of the mobile world transitions to "entirely new" things in 2013 that demonstrate the WOW factor we’ve been talking about, RIM appears to be hovering around 2011. But maybe not.
TechZone360 Senior Editor
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