Apple iPhone has officially become the “defender” instead of the “attacker”. The battlefront so far has been on the screen and apps and now the battlefield is switching back to the keyboard. There are two camps: physical keyboard and virtual keyboard. I definitely belong to the group that I needed a real keyboard and therefore I use Blackberry. And there are those who can type at lightening speed on iPhone virtual keyboard.
Since last week, there were rumors that the next generation of Blackberry will come without a physical keyboard (which BlackBerry CEO Heins reassured that RIM is not getting rid of its tried-and-true physical keyboard) and this is no easy decision.
One exciting new feature for the BlackBerry 10 is the redesigned user interface. The clean design features "cascades," which let users flip through apps with a simple swipe gesture, replacing a back key or physical button. It will also feature an intelligent virtual keyboard that takes touch-screen keypads to another level. It learns the words that you often use, your typing style and compensates for sloppy typing (I admit I am one of those sloppy typers). If they solve this problem, another good reason for me to stick with Blackberry. I currently have three BlackBerry and a Playbook.
There were reports that now Apple is considering offering a real keyboard for the iPhone 5. While this is highly unlikely, it will be a smart move for them to change the game again if they can completely rethink the design and engineering of a physical keyboard. The next competitive front will not be the camera, screen size or processor speed, it will be battle of the keyboard.
I speculate that RIM is betting (and committed) on winning the keyboard battle because they know it well, typing for BlackBerry users is everything and this is the last defense. And now RIM is properly equipped with the smarter, faster QNX platform.
Let the battle begins…..and here's a few free advice:
- BlackBerry should seriously push the design front and explore the BlackBerry DNA and go against Apple’s simple design and opt for more sophisticated European asthetic.
- BlackBerry should turn up the keypad battle and bring in new function and keys to allow new document management capabilities. I can tell you 5 ways you can improve the keyboard typing experience.
- BlackBerry should stop engineering creeps and hold back innovation on those features to reduce distractions.
- BlackBerry should drop the Apps race and give that up completely. Don't fight a battle that you cannot win.
- BlackBerry should turn BBM into an open software and get mass adoption including all Android phones.
- Blackberry should add voice to BBM and that will be a killer app.
- Blackberry should explore innovative features on “identity” management. I think there are lots of rooms to innovate here.
- Blackberry should innovate about live document sharing. Talking and reviewing a word of power point doc is another killer app.
- BlackBerry should innovate around “security” features (not just data security) but real security and design service around it.
- Blackberry should design a business mode and a personal model so the phone switch personality. We don't want to carry two phones.
- BlackBerry should leverage the 200+ million cars are on the road using RIM's QNX operating system and create the most sophisticated integrated features. Most BlackBerry users like me take calls in the car for hours everyday.
I can go on and on for hours and give BlackBerry another 100 ideas to compete for the future. The big strategy is to ignore “Apple”. I mean completely ignore Apple. And all you need to do is to do three of the above right and that earned you the right to play. Next step is to attach and fight back. Go RIM Go!!!