Review: RIM tries to get back in the game with sleek and fast Z10 BlackBerry

Touch-screen smartphone retains most of the strengths that made the platform a corporate favorite

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Then there's the heart of all BlackBerries, email and scheduling. Swipe right and you'll get to the BlackBerry hub, an orderly consolidation of emails, reminders, notices, updates, etc. You can employ filters so that you'll see exactly what you want to see. You can also jump directly into the mail app for a deep dive. There's native support for just about all types of personal and corporate email systems, along with native Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn services and apps.

In addition, the BB10 OS offers an integrated view of both notes and tasks, called Remember. Items here can come from anywhere, and there's full support and integration for Evernote, Box and Dropbox -- just about every major service one could want is available at launch and out of the box. Add in a full copy of Documents to Go for office functionality and you have a mobile device that can meet many users' needs.

The Z10's performance is excellent. In my use, I never experienced a lag in switching between apps or launching. In fact, RIM brags on this, noting that it didn't include a ticking-clock icon in its new OS to indicate that the system is doing something. From what I've seen, RIM is right; there's simply no need for such an icon, because whatever the OS is working on is completed before you can even feel like you're waiting for something.

All of those things should please any user, but they're certainly geared mostly toward the business users who have always been the backbone of RIM's business. But what has the company done for consumers? The Z10 has one of the fastest cameras I've seen, and BB10 comes with basic features for photo editing. There's also a cool Story Maker app that lets you quickly assemble photos and videos into a montage that's easily shared. It's not a full-blown editing tool, but it's fun. BB10 also connects to RIM's music and video store and offers some other services, with more promised in the near future. There's a pretty good selection of game titles, including the popular Angry Birds Star Wars. The BB10 marketplace isn't as well populated as other app markets, and that does underscore a challenge for RIM. All the same, RIM has done a good job of making sure the table-stakes apps are available at launch. But if it is going to capture consumers' hearts and minds, RIM will need to keep the momentum building and its marketplace growing.

The mobile market is moving so quickly that RIM has been in real danger of losing all the benefits of its vaunted brand strength. BB10 and the Z10 won't return RIM to its former glory overnight, but they do show that RIM isn't going to cede any part of this market to its competitors. That's what RIM needed to do right now. Its next challenge is to educate the market on the differentiation its products bring to the market.

The company formerly known as Research in Motion will try to score in the smartphone game with the launch of a new OS, two new handsets and a new company name. Can they do it?

Michael Gartenberg is a research director at Gartner. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @Gartenberg.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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