BlackBerry: The 3rd ecosystem hiding in plain sight

It’s BlackBerry week here in the mobile industry. Kicking off the coverage I have an opinion piece for you from James Rosewell, founder of 51Degrees.mobi. His company tracks almost 700 million unique mobile devices every month for tens of thousands of customers that use their device detection and optimisation services.

Over to James:

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Blackberry mobile devices accounted for 15% of mobile phone web traffic in the United Kingdom during December 2012 according to the web usage figures of my own company, 51Degrees.mobi — this is based on the 620 million devices our servers tracked worldwide last month.

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 20.59.44

15% is a sizable number. It’s more than 7 times Windows Phone market share in the same period. Therefore why do so many web sites neglect Blackberry, or worst go out of their way to create a poor experience on Blackberry devices? What will happen after BB10 is launched?

PrimeLocation (a leading UK property portal) is clearly demonstrating a strong iOS and Android bias. Their first mobile optimised web site available throughout most of 2012 worked rather well on the classic Blackberry form factor. The same can’t be said for the latest upgrade. See screenshots below.

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 21.06.08

The latest version starts with a washed out logo dominating the mobile landing page. All the main menu items are off the screen. Even the menu link to the full site which appears at the top of the page on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone isn’t visible. Worst of all the home page (consisting of 7 links) is a whopping 450kb which takes a lifetime to appear over anything other than WiFi or perfect 3G coverage.

In contrast the previous PrimeLocation mobile web site placed the key menu items and activities for mobile users clearly at the top of the page, without compromising a slightly smaller logo. Mobile users could start browsing for homes quickly and start to get engaged.

Perhaps Blackberry users aren’t interested in PrimeLocation. But that’s going to change.

2013 the return of BlackBerry
The Blackberry platform is about to undergo its most important makeover since launch with the release of BB10 at the end of January 2013. Just consider…

  • Major carriers including Vodafone, Telefonica, Everything Everywhere, Three and in the US Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will include the devices in their range. More will be announcing support as you read this.
  • Developer versions of handsets have been available for many months. Importantly BB10 includes some clever technology to enable developers to quickly port Android applications to Blackberry. Expect the number of applications to increase quickly.
  • Blackberry Playbook version 2 on which much of BB10 is based has proven to be a great little tablet for those not put off by version 1.
  • FIPS 140-2 certification has been achieved pre-launch, crucial to securing high volume government and defence deals.
  • Many large corporations already have a big investment in Blackberry and are long overdue a major handset refreshes driving Enterprise sales in the first quarter.
  • Analysts are becoming increasingly positive about BB10.

If you thought you could forget about Blackberry think again. Blackberry never went away in the UK. Blackberry is well placed to grow in 2013.

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James, thanks for taking the time to write this.

The new BlackBerry 10 devices will have some stonkingly good browsing technology if the alpha units we’ve seen are anything to go by so Prime Location will doubtless look phenomenal on the new Z10.

I am really excited to see the new device(s).

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  • A_P_S

    The problem that I see with this supposed blackberry come back is that it’s based on existing BB users upgrading to the latest and greatest BB10 devices. The problem for RIM is that as i see it most of the devices they’re selling are to kids who aren’t buying the premium Bold devices but the plastic crappy BlackBerrys. Now even the kids are switching to other platforms. Once a few of their friends are on WhatsApp suddenly BBM isn’t all that important anymore and that’s a problem for RIM because by the time they get round to releasing cheap BB10 devices most of their customers will have ditched them for cheap android and windows phone devices (maybe even older iPhones).

    So that leaves the corporate users but given the choice I don’t think most people care about BlackBerrys that much. We did an upgrade at work and barely anyone wanted to upgrade to a new BB device. It wasn’t even a consideration for most people, the iPhone was by far the most popular.

  • timbo44

    Go back and lok at the chart for BBRY for the past several years. It’s headed back up there. :)

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