BC Beat

Rating the BlackBerry Z10 for TV

1/31/2013 05:32:53 PM

The Jan. 30 launch of the BlackBerry Z10, a touchscreen smartphone that breaks with the company’s tradition of including a physical keyboard, bowed to generally positive reviews (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Engadget) and some content providers, such as Univision, have already announced plans to offer BlackBerry 10 versions of their apps. Those with more limited app development budgets may not bother, however, figuring they can reach most of the smartphone universe with either an Apple or Android app.

Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry, echoed the significance of BlackBerry Z10’s launch and the brand’s global reach by announcing it had rebranded itself as BlackBerry Ltd. To promote the device the company will be spending several hundred million dollars, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal and has bought an ad during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, where 30 second spots are selling for $4 million or more.

But, it remains to be seen how essential the device will be for consumers as well as TV executives looking to deliver video to mobile devices.

Here are five key factors that will play a role in how the BlackBerry 10 will fare in the television app marketplace:

  1. Add more apps. Content is still king in the mobile world and a key factor in many purchasing decisions. While BlackBerry launched with over 75,000 apps, Google and Apple each offer well over 700,000 for their platforms. In addition, the BlackBerry offering is missing some key apps, such as Google Maps.
  2. Win over developers. BlackBerry faces an uphill battle to convince developers to spend even more money to create new versions for yet another operating system. In November of 2012, Android had 53.7% share of the U.S. smartphone market, followed by 35.0% for apple and only 7.3% for Blackberry, which faces increased competition from Microsoft.
  3. Find a way to beat out Windows 8. Microsoft’s all out-push to establish a mobile beachhead with its new Windows 8 platform further complicates the battle to win over developers. At the moment, the software giant has many more alliances with content providers for its Xbox Live platform, making the BlackBerry a much less appealing platform for TV and movie related apps.
  4. Get all the major mobile carriers on board. BlackBerry says that all the major carriers will carry the phone at around $199 but several telcos were vague on pricing and availability. This uncertainty seems to be the reason the phone won’t be available in the U.S., until March, later than its U.K. launch of Jan. 31. BlackBerry will have to get them on board and get the phone priced so it can sell.
  5. Differentiate its technology to broaden its appeal. The new BlackBerry Z10 is by all accounts a fine piece of technology, with a great user interface, and the company has said it will spend heavily to promote the product. But although BlackBerry is also well established in the corporate world and among business users, it’s current lack of traction in the general consumer marketplace will make marketing it as an essential device for TV app developers challenging.
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