No more motion

The new BlackBerry Z10 arrived today and it didn’t blow anyone’s socks off. Walt Mossberg, by far the best technology writer, says in The Wall Street Journal, “Overall, it worked fine in my tests, but I found it was a work in progress. It has a chance of getting RIM back in the game, if the company can attract a lot more apps.” That’s always been an issue. Despite beating the developer bushes for the last six months, the new model has only 70,000 apps, about one-tenth as many as either Apple or Android.

The stock market reaction was equally chilly. Anticipation had pushed share price up in the last three months from $8 to $18 just last week. At the end of trading today, it was below $14. For its part, the company has joined the witness protection program. The corporate name, Research In Motion, devised by co-founder Mike Lazaridis in 1984, is no more. The new name is BlackBerry. I hope they didn’t pay brand consultants too much for that bit of legerdemain. We’ll know if the past is being totally expunged if Jim Balsillie changes his name to Jiminy Cricket.

Nor was there much interest at my local Rogers outlet. From 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. only three people wandered in to inquire about the new model. I was the third. Watch for line-ups (or otherwise) on February 5, when the Z10 touchscreen version is available in Canada. In the U.S., where BlackBerry’s share of the smartphone market has fallen during the last five years from 50 per cent to single digits, availability begins in mid-March.

I sincerely hope the new company and the new models do well. I’m nursing my 8700 – that’s at least seven years old – and hope it can last until the QWERTY version, called Q10 is out in April. I may be loyal but a few such hangers-on won’t be enough. This latest model doesn’t look like a game-changer and that’s what was needed with this bet-the-company move.

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