Prior to attending the BB10 Jam conference in London on 14th June, I had started to think that perhaps there was scope for RIM to re-establish themselves as the number one mobile platform choice for the banking sector. However, judging by the statistics
they presented at the conference, they never actually stopped being the number one choice!
RIM dispelled the prevailing myth that developers are abandoning Blackberry revealing that over the last 12 months vendors have increased 254%, whilst the number of apps available on the Blackberry store had risen by 240%. These statistics aren’t actually
as impressive as they initially appear, as RIM’s performance over the previous year was particularly poor, but they still demonstrate a significant improvement.
RIM has also announced that they are introducing a ‘RIM application certification programme’ which will hopefully ensure that Blackberry apps remain high quality and that their store doesn’t get flooded with mediocre apps in the same way that those of their
competitors have been. This is quite a clever move, as this enforced method of quality control could serve as a justification for the relatively high prices of apps on the Blackberry app store. Angry Birds for example, costs £5 on the Blackberry app store
but is available for only 69p from the Apple equivalent. Recent statistics have shown that 13% of applications on the Blackberry platform earn £100K or more, and that there are 177 million downloads of Blackberry applications every month. When coupled with
the fact that there are 43% more daily downloads from the Blackberry app store than there are from the Apple app store, it’s certainly becoming a very attractive proposition for developers to focus on Blackberry.
So how does this all relate to strengthening RIMs position in banking? Well, it all comes down to the domino effect. The creation of a high quality app store where consumers can purchase tried and tested, quality assured applications is a very appealing
proposition for consumers and is likely to improve RIM’s customer retention and help expand its customer base. This in turn creates a more compelling case for Blackberry in the corporate world where they continue to be the platform of choice – particularly
However, the Blackberry revival isn’t just about the apps. The devices themselves were looking a little dated compared to their slinky, user friendly rivals. This is about to change. BB10 promises to be far more innovative than anything we have seen from
many other vendors. With BB10 RIM have really brought what they are good at to the OS level. They have placed intuitive user centric design (UX) at the heart of the device (and I mean real user experience, not just pretty animated transitions) and the results
areastounding. Every transition, animation and interaction is significant in BB10. Even down to the simple radio button controls that transition from one radio to another, rather than just switch. More importantly, RIM have thought about the keyboard and how
it’s used. Single-handed operation and multitasking are the key UX considerations in BB10. Being able to ‘peak’ behind an email you are writing (to see an attachment for example without having to actually change the app you are running) is a seriously useful
consideration for the corporate user. They have even improved the word prediction to limit the overall distance your thumb has to travel to complete an email or text. Words appear at your thumb or finger instead of at the top of the keyboard, and a simple
swipe upwards includes the word in your text. All these features are significant, not just as features in their own right, but are indicative of RIM’s commitment to innovation, and to lead the pack in terms of mobile user interaction.
RIM pretty much invented the Smartphone, and despite the swathes of devices around these days and years of stiff competition from generic Apple devices, BB10 demonstrates that RIM still has what it takes to keep its devices a permanent fixture in the hands
of their corporate customers.