You’re Doing It Wrong, BlackBerry

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins recently confirmed with CNET that the company would launch a midtier device yet this year and an “exciting” new flagship device could launch around the holidays. “It [the new flagship] takes BlackBerry 10 to another level in terms of the user experience,” he said.

Great! There’s a new BB10 device launching by the end of the year. How’s the Z10 doing, Mr. Heins?

The Z10, the current standard-bearer in BlackBerry’s army, launched in Europe and Canada in early February. Rogers said it was the most successful BlackBerry launch ever. But then, just over a month later, Rogers, along with Bell and Virgin, cut $40 off the Z10’s price, making it just $99 — the same price as the iPhone 5.

The phone just hit AT&T in the States. It launches on Verizon and T-Mobile this week. It’s $199 from all three providers.

But wait. Don’t buy the Z10. Didn’t you hear the CEO? There’s an exciting new one a few months away!

I want to believe in you, BlackBerry. One year ago Friday, I wrote “It’s Time To Believe In RIM And The BlackBerry Again.” People said I was crazy. Gruber filed the post away for claim chowder. But here you are, a year later, the Z10 actually made it to market and it’s a quality device. There are 100,000 apps in BB10’s App World with more additions each week. But you’re killing me, Smalls.

Talk about your current devices, Heins. Keep the focus on the Z10 and not-yet-launched Q10. They’re actually quality handsets and BlackBerry should be very proud.

Upon reading CNET’s article, our Canada-based reporter, Darrell Etherington, said today that his Canadian rage and sadness are all mixed together in a confusing yet delicious soup (I think that means he’s disappointed).

The first rule they teach you in Consumer Electronics 101 is “Don’t talk about a future product until your current device is available.” The Z10 isn’t fully available until tomorrow! The QWERTY-packing Q10 won’t hit U.S. carriers for a couple of months! And you’re already talking about future flagship devices? Settle down and concentrate on the present.

At this point, consumers understand that their cell phones will be outdated within a few months. This is especially true in the Android world where HTC, Samsung and Motorola constantly trump one another. But the accepted churn is slower, more methodical when there’s one only manufacturer involved. Like with Apple.

There is one iPhone a year. When you buy an iPhone on Day One, it’s pretty well accepted that you’ll have the best iPhone for a year. That’s a superficial but valuable feeling and an advantage of the Z10 until this CNET interview.

Now, BlackBerry is asking its remaining fans to not only take a chance on an unproven platform but do so knowing that their device, which they likely purchased with a 2- or 3-year contract, will likely be outdated by the end of the year.

And while we’re on the subject of doing things wrong, this Forbes report, the one about full screen takeovers, better not be accurate. You’re not going to renew any friendships by annoying people with full-screen adverts. You’re going to piss people off.

The BlackBerry of 2013 is very different from the Research in Motion of 2012. There’s life in the system. BlackBerry feels like a scrappy, young fighter instead of a former champion now overweight and out-of-shape. Research in Motion is dead and the young, and seemingly inexperienced BlackBerry has taken its place. I still believe the company can recover and find some level of success. But only if they throw all their weight behind the Z10 and stay quiet about future devices.