Home BNN Throwing in the towel on my RIM shares

Throwing in the towel on my RIM shares

This falls into the category of a painful post to write.

For years now, I’ve anxiously awaited the arrival of a modern day version of my beloved Blackberry, both as a customer and personal RIM shareholder. Like most enterprise customers, my handset is a business communication tool first and foremost. It’s not a camera to shoot a family event; nor is it my online shopping lifeline.

I am fond of joking on BNN Business News Network that I’ve never switched to an iPhone ‘cause “I work for a living.” The handset’s keyboard and business functionality is the primary, if not only, appeal. As someone who started with the 957 back in 2000 when you had to order it directly from RIM in Waterloo, the utility of the 9700 and improved Bold 9900 version met almost all of my daily needs.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t incredibly excited about the arrival of the new Q10. As much as the 9900 keyboard did the trick, there were a few modern day things I was hoping to get with the Q10. And now that I’ve had the device for more than a month, the sad reality is that Blackberry (BB:TSX, BBRY:Q) management has failed to deliver on the incredibly modest expectations of someone who has held shares in the company, on and off, since the late 1990s. And that’s why, despite being as nationalistic as anyone, I sold my stock last week at a loss and rolled my diminished capital into Halogen Software (HGN:TSX).

All because of RIM’s inability to retain the key utility of the very useful 9900, let alone deliver on the promise that the new Blackberry devices “would intercept the future”.

Here’s what I like about the Q10:

– Keyboard
– Sturdy design
– Overall size
– Blackberry Hub
– Camera photo quality

And this is some of what disappoints:

– Font size of inbound emails can be far too small sometimes, as in 4 point, which cannot be fixed by increasing the screen’s font size unlike on my 9900
– When you “pinch” the screen to zoom, and then use your finger to track back and forth to read the email sentence by sentence, the screen will sometimes switch programs as the Q10 screen is meant to swipe when you make a quick right-to-left motion; and, unlike on the Z10, you can’t turn the device sideways to get the screen to turn & expand to read emails (not that it would matter since the screen is almost square)
– When you respond to emails on the Q10, your Microsoft Outlook email doesn’t show the email in question as having been responded to, unlike what happened with the 9900, 9700, etc. I’m told this is because the Q10 “goes around” the Blackberry Enterprise Server that we currently have on site. What this means is that if you return from a 3 day business trip or a week-long holiday, and you’ve been dealing with 100 emails a day all the while, you have no idea what you’ve tackled while on the road and which emails you skipped at the time. That iPhone people suffer with this too is no excuse for those of us who still has a BES.
– By ditching the trackpad, I have a far harder time of fixing typos or editing emails and an impossible task if I want to cut and paste text. Increasing the screen size made sense, but the trackpad could have been retained virtually.
– No stock tracking app (Bloomberg is getting around to it), but RIM could have produced their own.
– No Starbucks app.
– Blackberry Link (the new desktop manager) finds every photo and word document (in the thousands in each case) on my desk top hard drive but cannot find the iTunes song catalogue; which means I don’t have music on the Q10, unlike my 9900.
– Device gets warm if used for an extended period of time.
– Battery doesn’t get me through a day trip to Boston, even if I turn off the Bluetooth and WiFi, unless I stay completely off every social media app (such as Twitter).
– Telephone calls can’t be received in the traditional “vibrate twice then ring” mode, unlike on the 9900 or 9700. Which means you can’t have it on your hip at the Opera or in a meeting without changing the notification mode to “silent”. Which means that if your babysitter calls to say he/she is on his/her way to the hospital with your child, you won’t know for longer than you’d like to.

I could go on, but I suspect you get the point. The complaints are pretty basic, even integral to the utility of the device, and show a lack of understanding or even indifference about what kept we 73 million RIM customers around — despite the success of Apple and Android — all these years. I have this image of 24 year old product and software designers looking at what their friends are doing with their Samsungs, rather than asking the 50 year old lawyer why he/she has stuck with keyboard RIM through thick and thin.

You’d think that getting the iTunes problem resolved would be easy, but I’ve failed to date. And it serves as an example of the overall problem ahead. I called the RIM customer help desk in Waterloo a couple of weeks ago for some support on the glitch, but the call centre agent wanted $49.99 to provide service for this specific problem (even though I hadn’t had any issue with syncing the 9900 Bold device on the same desktop with the same iTunes catalogue), and recommended that I speak to my carrier first in case it was covered by my warranty; at which point I’d be re-routed back to Waterloo for some free help.

Although I’d started out trying to resolve it with my carrier, I now had to call them back to avoid the $50 charge. Turns out this type of customer care is not covered by my wireless contract, and the carrier offered me two choices to resolve it: a one-time service fee of $29.99 or a 12 month telephone service plan for something like $10 a month. I hope I’m not calling every month, I thought, so opted for the $29.99 plan.

The carrier’s support team tried to fix it, but in the end I gave up after more than 80 minutes on the phone. There’s only so much time in an evening that you can spend on such stuff. When we wound up, it was unclear if I’d still have to pay the $29.99 despite the issue being left unresolved. And I still have no music, with no prospect of that changing. Ever.

The lack of Q10 apps is astounding.

Although Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins tells the media there are “more than 90,000 apps”, I can find not too many more than what was available for my trusty 9900. Much is made of the availability of the tens of thousands of Android apps for the Q10, but for the life of me I can’t find them; at least not via the BBRY app store. But all I really want is something to follow stocks, and to find my favourite coffee shop. You’d think those two apps would be table stakes for a device being marketed at white collar office workers. But no.

Ask a RIM executive why, and they’ll say every customer wants a different app, and it’s a mugs’ game trying to please each and every one of us. In response, I’d suggest they stand in the middle of a trading floor on Bay Street or Wall Street: the marketshare of RIM and Starbucks is a hellavu lot higher there than RIM’s current 1% U.S. standing in that key and profitable environment.

Remarkably, and all of my complaints could have been avoided (except for the iTunes problem I guess). RIM should have had a focus group of, say, 12 or 20 people drawn from the key verticals that continue to care about a keyboard handset, and will pay whatever it required to keep it around for years to come. Finance, investment banking, government, media, health care, public safety, etc. I have this image of semi-annual round tables with a senior leader from JP Morgan, CNBC, the DoD, Bristol Myers, Skadden Arps, Department of Homeland Security, Sunlife Insurance, etc. Even a soccer mom.

Each rep on this customer panel would invariably have 5 or 7 things that they just loved about their 9900, which had kept them and their 73 million compatriots satisfied over the past four or five years – even as RIM’s smartphone marketshare fell to single digits; versus probably 40% in 2002. As much as RIM needs to sell 20 or 40 million handsets each year to be truly “happy”, the Q10 crowd are the base upon which RIM could try to grow its brand again via devices such as the Z10, the Q5, or the next generation thereof. This is not a novel thought.

However, despite being given a couple of extra years to get the Q10 right, and for all of the good things it brings to the table, the many annoyances will continue to drive people away from the core offering; or at least serve as negative retention tools. And that’s why I’m throwing in the towel.

Waiting around for a M&A premium from Lenovo that may never come makes a lot less sense than backing another Canadian tech story that is far more likely, should Halogen’s management continue to perform, to see its shares appreciate over time.

MRM
(disclosure – I own HGN; as always, this post reflects a personal Opinion and is not to be taken as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell securities as I’m not licenced to give such advice)

 
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40 Comments  comments 

40 Responses

  1. So basically, despite the bad customer support for your iTunes problem, you’re upset of no decent Starbucks or stocks app. I sir, can fix that for you…

  2. Ha. Thanks for stopping by.

    Not being to read many emails due to the font size (a function of how they revert), is key.

    MRM

  3. caleb dusdal

    Hi Mark,

    Go to settings –> accessibility and select the font drop down.

    You can have your email fonts be as large as you would like.

    I also suggest you return your Q10 or try a different battery as I know three people with a Q10 and none of them have any trouble making it through the day on a battery.

    The music in BlackBerry World is brilliant as well. Alternatively you can just drag and drop (wired or over wi-fi) your music onto your BlackBerry. Works like a dream. Its relieving to escape the confines of iTunes.

    Good luck, hope you regret your decision come Friday :)

  4. caleb dusdal

    I just did a search in BlackBerry World and found at least three applications that sync iTunes and have 4 stars or higher.

    Didn’t take much, just chose ‘search’ and entered “itunes”.

    Follow the above procedure and you’ll find them no problem.

  5. Madan Limaye

    Mark, you made a very interesting comment:
    “RIM should have had a focus group of, say, 12 or 20 people drawn…”

    I sincerely hope that Blackberry folks are reading your blog and taking notes and will be able to win your vote by addressing some of the issues you have pointed out. As a share holder of Blackberry I would want nothing else other than that; customer comes first and from your comments it is clear that they need to do a better job at listening and following through on it.

    Here are some responses to your comments based on my personal experience with the Z10:

    – Font size of inbound emails can be far too small sometimes, as in 4 point, which cannot be fixed by increasing the screen’s font size unlike on my 9900

    I have a Z10 and I changed the font size from Settings->Display->Font Size and went back to the hub and every channel within the hub is resized, not sure what you are talking about.

    – When you “pinch” the screen to zoom, and then use your finger to track back and forth to read the email sentence by sentence, the screen will sometimes switch programs as the Q10 screen is meant to swipe when you make a quick right-to-left motion; and, unlike on the Z10, you can’t turn the device sideways to get the screen to turn & expand to read emails (not that it would matter since the screen is almost square)

    This only happens if you go to the edge of the screen if you stay inside the screen the scrolling is pretty smooth. Using two fingers to scroll also works

    – Device gets warm if used for an extended period of time.

    AFAIK, this happens with every 4G based phone – I have used iPhone 4/4s/5, Windows 8 Nokia 900/920 – in fact, I find Blackberry to be much better when it comes heating issues. Hopefully, somebody can give you comments on Android phones as well.

    – By ditching the trackpad, I have a far harder time of fixing typos or editing emails and an impossible task if I want to cut and paste text. Increasing the screen size made sense, but the trackpad could have been retained virtually.

    Just double tap on the word and that word gets highlighted with two droplets showing up on either sides of that word now you can press on it and drag to extend it on either side, tap on the word again and a menu comes up which allows you to either cut, copy or share. I have never used a trackpad so won’t be able to comment on its use – I am sure it has its own merits

    – Battery doesn’t get me through a day trip to Boston, even if I turn off the Bluetooth and WiFi, unless I stay completely off every social media app (such as Twitter).

    I am a bit surprised by this! my Z10 lasts through the day comfortably – I use Flipboard quite extensively, view emails, send text messages, do some quick stock checks (using WSJ app). On one of the trips I took about 80+ pictures without the battery dying on me! During this period the network was up and I also did some browsing, checked for directions.

    – Telephone calls can’t be received in the traditional “vibrate twice then ring” mode, unlike on the 9900 or 9700. Which means you can’t have it on your hip at the Opera or in a meeting without changing the notification mode to “silent”. Which means that if your babysitter calls to say he/she is on his/her way to the hospital with your child, you won’t know for longer than you’d like to.

    The example is a bit far fetched/extreme but point well taken – you liked this feature on your Bold and it is not available on Q10. Could you please provide this input on Blackberry’s support board? I have found the folks over there to be very responsive and helpful.

    – “…lack of apps is astounding…”
    I can sideload a number of Android apps very easily! If you have Google Chrome browser then there is a Playbook App Manager Plugin – please do yourself a favor – download this plugin. All you need to do then is go to Crackberry.com (or just google) search for .bar app files and download some of those .bar files (especially Flipboard) to your Laptop/PC and import those through that plugin on your Q10. It is that easy. Even Netflix works! (It is a bit sluggish in its response but you can search and play the movie flawlessly). So, as you can see you have literally access to almost all the pre Jelly Bean platform application catalog available to you (from 10.2 you will get Jelly Bean support as well).

    When Android platform was launched it only had about 3k apps, after so many years it now has 100s of thousands of them. Give Blackberry sometime to catch up – as they say, please don’t put the baby in the bathtub to drown.

    As far as iTunes I am not a music guy but if you startup Blackberry Link and go to the Settings option (top right the icon looks like a gear) then look under the Libraries tab and check out the comment under Music/Videos – it states that “Your Music and Video libraries are populated with content from your iTunes Library.”

    Are you saying that this feature does not work? (I am using Version 1.1.0 (build 32))

    My Z10 is running – 10.0.10.116

    I would sincerely appreciate if somebody who owns a Q10 also presents their own experience.

    Thanks a lot Mark for jotting down your concerns. Sincerely hope that you will be back sometime in the future buying Blackberry’s stock.

  6. Thanks Caleb

    Tried that initially. It really drives the title in the email more than anything.

    MRM

  7. Trish Calcio

    Mark,

    Saw the cast and do hope your investment advise is not based on such emotion rather than prudent diligence. As I read above, the issues that you brought up seems to have all been addressed. I may suggest that maybe spent a bit more time on querying minor nuances when getting any new device.

    Again, saw no value in the cast and am surprised BNN actually aired it. Another colleague mentioned that they were embarrassed for you and your clients if they were watching.

    Just thought I would share my thoughts.

    Regards,

    Trish

  8. Steve ScClair

    “No Starbucks app”.

    Oh, Boo Hoo.. Grow a pair…

  9. Elad

    Great write-up on the Q10 problems (you forgot to mention the unbearable sliding motion which take a week of practice to get right). I don’t see the stock advise as “emotional” – I would ditch any Microsoft shares, which I don’t have, based on not dissimilar problems I encountered with Windows 8 on my laptop. RIM should have done better and their future depends on us keyboard riders, even if they don’t like the idea. Shape up or we will walk away. As it is, I have to send back my Q10 to our IT guys 300 miles away so my e-mail can be re-re-installed.

  10. Samsnug

    I think you made a typo at “hellavu”… it’s helluva.

  11. Tru Bro

    How about that facts?:

    1) Apple iOS builded 3 years before public rollout in 2007 (2013-2007+3= you get years of OS)
    2) Android win just only because concept of one OS but different smartphones (its good for device-only companies (LG, HTC, Philips, Sony and many Chinese and rest world companies)

    3) Top giants (LG, Philips, Sony, Samsung and etc) have gains with Android OS (but just see how much phones sold by vendor??? Why you see marketing only about all vendors (Android OS) market share… look by vendor and you will see some vendors have problems not more than BBRY…

    4) Android is open-source project with big security holes (why some companies rollout android phones at their companies? Just they love android, but they don’t care about security in digital age…

    5) iOS is OS for people who have money…Marketing is OK, Stable is OK.Security isn’t OK, but if you just user (non enterprise…why not? Good phone).

    You compare BBOS 9900 to Q10…its different OS.

    6) Just you like User Experience from 9900. Good, but you forgot about slow speed of browsing in internet, slow speed of downloading (in 1.2Ghz processor its joke, because processor is good,but OS is bad), maybe you forgot about clocks at center of your phone in time when you waiting very important call? Maybe you see at games for old BBOS in BB app world?
    You just want to get what you want from your experience but huge % of users want get some other things…

    But BBRY have small money for fast rollout of OS (its not app, its OS!!!Company must build ecosystem (programming developer tools, programming OS, programming apps, programming website, making infostructure for it (datacenters and etc)

    ITS VERY BIG WORK for small BBRY company!

    How much in Google (+LG+Samsung+Philips and more more more)?
    How much in Apple?

    And finally: How much employees working in BBRY now?
    They are heroes after Wall Street negative info!

    Sometimes I think Media + wallstreet is bomb for BBRY, because sometimes they don’t want to understand basic business processes in company…
    What is investment in future? Companies must spending money (like BBRY)… not gain everyday..

    Finally BBRY looking forward with good team. Hope they can save their stable market share and try to gain.

    Sorry for my English :)

  12. Sandeep

    I agree with MRM… the new Blackberry phones lose most of what I cherished in the BB as a workhorse. I’ll add a few of my gripes as well:

    – Everything seems to take more steps than before. Getting to anything that I want to do is 3 or more swipes. The thing one uses a PHONE most for – is to call someone. Earlier, you press the green phone key, type the contact’s name, press the green button again and its done. If you have nothing open, type the name and hit the green button and you’re set. Now you have to swipe away your current program, click on the on-screen phone icon, then search for the contact, then tap on the name to open the number, then tap on the number to dial. Dont the people at Blackberry use their own damn phones?

    – The speed-dial on the previous Blackberry’s was beautiful. Longpress any of the 26 keys on the phone, and it’d dial a number. Basically all of the people I ever need to call, I had on speed dial. Thats gone.

    – I have many people in my address book who i can only remember when i can see where they work. When someone calls, it used to show their name and company name. Thats gone.

    And so on and so forth. Everything that made the Blackberry a pleasure to work on, has just disappeared.

    Also to comment by Trish – not investing in companies whose products you dont like is pretty smart investing strategy. Even the Oracle backs it.

  13. Leo Klus

    Mark. Thanks for the insight and the summary of the Q10. Can I ask what device you switched to from the Q10…and how your experience is with it. As someone who once was a blackberry bold guy and then was forced to get on iPhone (still am), Im interested how you are doing with the crappy iphone or android keyboards out there. I am still frustrated having to bang out my gazillion email/text responses on iphone and was hoping Q10 would be good enough. Any thoughts would be very welcome!

  14. Hello Leo

    I’ve stuck with the Q10 for the very reason I stuck with the 9900 Bold. As I like to say on BNN, “I work for a living” and emails are the most important feature for my smartphone.

    MRM

  15. JeffW

    I, too, have been a BB loyalist for a very long time. But in my business, advertising, everyone uses Macs. And the new BlackBerrys, just like the 9900, simply refuse to work with Apple products. Throw Outlook for Mac into the mix and contacts/calendar/notes synchronization is hopeless.

    Instead of buying a Q10, as I had originally intended, I now have an iPhone, which integrates seamlessly with my Macs. But I really, really miss that BB physical keyboard.

  16. Ed Ayliffe

    Hang in there Mark. BB10 is a brand new OS. It’s in its’ infancy. All the problems you have pointed out can be fixed with software updates. And they will be fixed, I am certain of that.

    I’m sure BB are well aware of these shortcomings and are running like hell to catch up and fix them, but it will take time.

  17. Thom

    Seems like the lack of true link to enterprise email–identifying on your home laptop what you did on the BB email while on the road–is the killer, and nobody has answered that complaint.

  18. Wolfgang

    @Mark,

    “I’ve stuck with the Q10 for the very reason I stuck with the 9900 Bold. As I like to say on BNN, “I work for a living” and emails are the most important feature for my smartphone.”

    give them some time to mature the new platform. I am evaluating BB10 at the moment for our professional services business and can fully understand and agree with your issues, at least with a couple of them.

    However, to be fair, it is a very tough job for BB to get this all new platform as quickly right as it should. They had to drop quite a lot of those more smaller features for beeing able to launch their product at all. For a first release I think they have done a good job but now they need to hurry up and add those plenty of productivity features, we all missing from the legacy BBOS.

    OS 10.1 is already much better then .0, and .2 will be even better. Battery has improved A LOT since the start. Also my recommendation: disable 4G and stay with 3G&2G – and battery is your friend. The top speed is usually not really necessary. Also to disable gestures on locked screen. that saves power.

    The physical keyboard in combination with the word prediction is brilliant. Especially for non-english speaking countries: you can mix up to 3 languages, which no other platform can do at the moment!

    More things will come, if they manage to survive. I can confirm that they turned to listen to customers, other than some years ago…

  19. Blueberry

    Every device and OS has problems. Remember that the iPhones were released with poor call reception, without cut and paste, can’t print, etc but it has beauty as its calling card. Then android came just when the smartphone party was starting. It has its problems too. But everyone loves the new kid on the block with its promise of open source, really a freedom to escape from Apple. But even today, Samsung GS3 can’t get its thing right (I own one). Every time you reboot the device, it reverts back to the crappy Samsung keyboard as default when I’d prefer Swiftkey. A known problem, with no fix! A year already and how many reboots? Oh, when sometime I put the phone to my ear for a call and it launches an app. Nothing is perfect.

    Unfortunate for BB10, it arrives when the smartphone is at its peak so users have high expectation and rightly so as Apple and Android already have years to perfect their OS and the app count game.

    The problems with BBRY Z10:
    -the screen is too small. It should have been 4.5 – 5″
    -the cost is too high for a late comer. Remember how Hyundai and Kia get the market share? attractive pricing first. The Z10 should cost only $99 for a 2 year contract or $400 brand new no contract. Same for Q10.
    -The battery should be bigger for both. Stop worrying so much about thinness and lightness. The *frigging* Galaxy Note 2 sells like hot cake and see how big it is.

    Possible fixes:
    -Right now, BBRY needs to get people to use BB10, so selling cheap handsets is imperative since more users is good for developers. This will maintain or increase the market share and good for stock price. if Mr. Hein is true to his words that BBRY isn’t a device company, then he should sell devices at cost.
    -Mr. Hein spoke of India as one device for all-no PC. Well, BBRY device is perfect since it is secure. So, make it 5 inch big and even a bigger one (>5.5) and long battery, maybe a Z10 L and Z10 XL?

    -Make the Q10 taller so that its screen is longer than current
    -Finger print reader on its back for all future phones (Fujitsu makes this type of phones for years for Japanese market.) This is yet to buttress enterprise market that BBRY is secure.
    -Do what Google does. Sell device directly from BBRY (unlocked and a different powerful model)
    -Offer wireless charging as optional back. BBRY must outgun Nokia Lumia and soon Samsung
    -Sells the phone cheap, without charger and cable. Now that micro-USB is default charger, we all have a ton.

    (disclosure) I do own BBRY stock. I give them 6 more months. ;-)

    Cheers.

  20. ben

    I have heard similar analsysis on this before. This is my take on this… There are certain characteristics of BBOS (ie bolds) that aren’t existent in BB10. Generally speaking, very granular settings and precision text selection.

    Very granular settings are something that came to bbos over time. It’s going to take time to bring them to bb10. However, this is something that many people didn’t like about the blackberries – they are too complicated. If you use and understand the granular settings, great, you like them. But for many, it just complicates it.

    Precision text selection – specifically with using the trackpad. This is something that you can’t do on an iPhone or android phone either. Why? Because very few people want it. The market spoke and most people want a touch device, which, I submit, is contrary to precision text selection becuase it is designed for the pad of a finger.

    When it comes down to it, the old BBOS is going away. One way or another, it’s not going to be around in a few years. So, you are naturally going to see some big changes. No matter how they design it, there are going to be some elements missing and some elements taken for granted. This is something that the media has gotten wrong in many cases. BB10 isn’t an updated OS – it’s a completely different OS from the kernel up. So, you can’t have the same expectations for it.

    Now, I would like to see BlackBerry worry less about market share and focus on pleasing the cutomers that they have. Which is why I think, in time, you will see the granular settings come back. I’d like to make more customized notification settings. I submit that if BB10 has you missing BBOS, then you would miss it even more on a iOS or android device.

  21. BB is like jumping off of a cliff and saying so far so good !

  22. Linda

    Blueberry (cute name, by the way) made good points. I think one of the big issues was timing. BlackBerry Z10 came out when the market was saturated and Apple and Android had already established themselves as experienced and mature. So those who have one of their devices will not change because they are already satisfied and don’t need to try something new. Also, BB took so long to come out with the Z10 that many companies couldn’t wait any longer and switched to iPhone. BB 9900 does feel old when iPhone and Android are much more modern. Timing was bad. I suspect the same is why Windows Phone is not dominating either.

    I do agree that the $199 cost is a bit high, but I’m sure it was to send the message that BB phones are at the same quality level as the big guns. Pricing it lower would mean they are one rung below the greats and they definitely did not want to worsen their image of an already tarnished brand.

  23. Johnn

    I think it behooves you, Mark, to respond to the very thoughtful, helpful and insturctive response from Madan Limaye above.

  24. Ian

    Currently I have a touchscreen Lumia 710 running Windows Phone 7 because it was the least expensive, no-contract option offered by my local dealer when I went in to replace my BlackBerry last year. Fortunately my user experience with this phone has been a pleasant surprise. My work and personal email, contact, and calendar syncs great and I back that information up to SkyDrive. The phone includes mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. There are Tim Hortons and Starbucks apps too. Battery life is an issue but that’s because it’s only got 1300 mAh while newer phones are well above 2000 mAh. I’ll definitely consider upgrading to a Nokia running Windows Phone 8 next time.

  25. Hi Mark,

    As a BlackBerry Elite Developer (you can see our apps here : http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/vendor/1145/ ) I understand that the new OS is very different than the old one. I’ve personally helped many new Q10 owners get used to the best way to operate the device and once I do they feel much better.

    Feel free to email with directly with any issues you may have and I’ll do my best to help . As for Starbucks I think if you try Foursquare it should be able to find all of the Starbucks near you pretty easily. My email is steve at jaredcompany dot com.

  26. Sadly, I had been a BB loyalist for many years, and I STILL miss the keyboard after leaving for an Android phone (I went with Sony Xperia since it had features that I would use from an integrated entertainment standpoint).

    Like Mr. McQueen, I also would say “I’m sorry, but I work for a living” and dismiss the need for a fun phone. However, with every delay that arose on the new released Z and Q, then to find out the twisted logic of releasing the touchscreen first (I mean, come on, really, BlackBerry, when you knew it was the keyboard that kept us?).

    As for one commenter who noted that companies switched waiting – I know singularly well that Halliburton switched for that very reason. What killed BlackBerry (shall I write its obit now or later, I wonder) is the lack of understanding of how important the business functionality and QWERTY are to the BlackBerry user experience. Had I been BlackBerry’s Chief Marketing Officer I would have told development in C-Suite meetings that “look, just get the da*ned keyboard version out first, and we can market against touchscreens by touting how nice it will be to NOT make typos and NOT have stuff fill in for you when YOU know what you want to type.” Basically, bring advantage back to tactility.

    And make sure you get that right, and the functionality of BES and mail / sync / etc. Come back to the core and then add apps – and be realistic. Have nationwide contest and app hack-a-thons and prize money and scholarships to build new BB apps around the new Q, and work on THAT. Get the youth motivated and have them build us better business apps and let them be part of the new frontier and position it for serious business folks.

    Instead of vision and forward thinking, BlackBerry has become the red-headed tech stepchild in the land of misfit phones. BlackBerry could have developed alongside business and social by delving into the youth to create fresh app content (stuff that may be relevant to those of us who work and have families and, sure, we’ll see what weird things that strange Uncle is doing with his inventions or photos from our daughter’s recital must be shared in Instagram) – all the while making sure key things for business were adhered to.

    All we wanted was the great trackpad, the keyboard, hell, bring back the darned wheel if you would like, just make sure business stuff works – email, calendar, can open PDFs, and simple stuff (New York Times, Bloomberg, stock apps, news sites) work and you can add the rest later. But add the rest after you focus on the core.

    Instead, we waited, got tired, jumped ship, got out, and now we stand back as BlackBerry lights its own funeral pyre. Bad cues, bad steps, all lit by a flare of asinine decisions that are reminiscent of Balsille’s ignorant “you don’t need an app to serve the web” comment years ago.

    Make it work, set your differentiator, harp on that, and move on. You won’t be Android, you won’t be Apple – and guess what – if you build it for who needs it and who will pay… you won’t have to be.

  27. exbbfan

    BB had only one chance to turn things around, it had to be perfect to work….it wasn’t.

    Focus on Software, and sell devices at cost.

  28. Wayne

    So the Q10 is not magical and it doesn’t wash my windows. Is anyone surprised? It’s a solid device but a) doubtful that companies not already bought in to the BBY universe will now sign up and b) doubtful that many consumers in NA or elsewhere will switch to or even stick with BBY. So, it’s an inevitable (perhaps slow?) decline. Duh.

  29. Igor Hnatko CPA (Australia)

    I got to this article from The New York Times article by Ian Austin. He quoted Mr McQueen’s (Mark) article above as stating many problems with Q10 and blackberry products.
    However, from comments and other users I found that Mark’s problems with using this device come mainly from not understanding his phone’s OS (which has changed!) and app store.
    The New York Times article makes a general statement as a conclusion of the article posted by Mark.
    Mark should write a retraction on most of the content which has been shown to be incorrect and misleading.
    My opinion is that RIM itself should listen to Mark and work with him to resolve his issues in order for a follow up article to be written.
    Then RIM can contact Ian Austin from The New York Times and alert them to the updated article and ask to write about RIM fighting back and fighting hard for their customers.

  30. I think I’ve summed up RIM/Blackberry well here just over a year ago – http://www.shawnbsmith.me/blog/random-thoughts/why-rim-will-die-and-slowly

  31. Agent Smith

    I worked at RIM for 7.5 years and sadly resigned my post this past February. Basically, I’m one of those propeller-head techies who lives deep in the trenches. I always stood proud, flew the company flag high, and sincerely loved my BlackBerry. I still use a 9900, it’s weak but I need the keyboard with my fat fingers.

    Over two years ago, I began to start asking serious questions, very clearly, and really important ones. Questions about the real reasons for all the delays, about various architectural decisions that seemed wrong and the cheap way out, etc. Any answer I actually did get was shocking, and always left me thinking “oh no, oh no I really hope that gets sorted out”. I can’t share these details but I assure you, while your concern and gripes about your device are valid, they don’t even represent the tip of this now deficient and weak technological iceberg. Gradually, everything which the company seemed founded upon and stood by for years (technology wise), was being usurped with a model and approach that I fundamentally disagreed with, and only now is the public starting to wake up to it. The QNX operating system is good, and the QNX guys up in Ottawa are a fine team. Dan Dodge as a technologist knows what he’s talking about, but like a cog in a wheel, those guys are only one part. Still, so what if the device operating system has enough power to run a fancy new web app, when people can’t even use the email application the way they expect to. Believe me, there is no quick and easy solution to that which people are beginning to complain about, things that are so commonly accepted as staple items, are just never again going to look and feel the way BlackBerry used to do work. Sadly, the BlackBerry company has now implemented an inferior model compared to the existing one for Java-BlackBerry devices, as many, many lines of code had to be written for the NOC and it’s new routing and warehousing systems, and as did all the enterprise and workstation software undergo a massive overhaul, with a ridiculous design, and how dare they think that was ever going to jive with serious players. To me it is astounding they would go to such lengths, call it spectacular, and not even realize it’s sub-standard. Listening to all the marketing and sales guys talk about it, uuggh. Any time I spoke with a CIO at one of the major Fortune 500’s, or had to try and help a network administration team understand it, time and time again I felt embarrassed, and just couldn’t keep a straight face. I admit it, I was never meant for sales.

    Moreover, despite their mantra of being all about security, security, security, the new design of it all is actually less secure, and for those skeptical geeks that don’t believe me, fine, go read all the whitepapers, several of which I helped write, and then we’ll talk, until then, be quiet and read.

    And yet, despite me leaving and no longer being a part of the company, I still felt I needed to listen to Thorsten on Tuesday, and he was right about BlackBerry being an end-to-end solution, but why Thorsten WHY…why did we have to switch over to one that was worse? The decisions were well beyond me, but by continually asking about the rationale behind them and whether or not anyone understood the implications, it always seemed no one had a clue, or maybe they were just happy with the taste of Kool-Aid. I honestly kept walking away from meeting after meeting thinking “how do you seriously not understand if you poke a hole in a dam, water is going to leak?” Well I suppose I’m just complaining now, but I did try because I loved my job, and the company, and the technology, and I never wanted to feel like I did, such that it became untenable to stand by as fault, after inferior design, after shoddy craftsmanship, and bickering beyond belief, seeped into every facet of the development process. I was very sad to quit, and I remain a BlackBerry customer (for now), but nothing, nothing at all will convince me I should spend my hard earned money on a BlackBerry 10 smartphone, no way, it’ll never happen.

    I’m actually looking at those Ubuntu for Android phones now, they’ve really peaked my curiosity.

    So thank you Mark I appreciate your blog post, I think you speak from the heart and have nailed it, as it always comes down to a human being, and not a chart or business object or line of code. It’s so simple, if it doesn’t work right, if it’s not helpful, if you can’t put your faith in it, and if it’s not fun – why bother.

  32. Pavan

    For an Android user like me, it just looks like Blackberry now has features consistent with an Android phone, but unfortunately, its users are not adaptable enough or tech-savvy enough to figure how things work….

    Q10 should just stick to being not so smart and the Z version without the touch can get smarter I think.

  33. DPS

    Great posting – I concur with your hit list of issues and have been in communication with RiM on them as well. RIM claims that we will receive a major update in the fall which will fix the font issue (the respondents who tried to teach you how to change the font size obviously don’t get it). the font issue extends beyond the inbox – it needs to fixed for all apps. Also, unlike the 9900, when you zoom in on an email, the text needs to reformat such that you don’t need to scroll left and right to read an email, just down. Apparently that will be fixed in the fall as well (iPhone cant do this but android and the V 7 BB’s can).

    Surprised you missed the issue with the SMS/text box – if your text exceeds two lines, you can no longer see what you are typing unless you manually scroll down – a major software glitch. again, they know about it!

    BTW, I’m running a leaked OS and they have fixed the issues scrolling so far that to the right in an email that you skip to a new screen!

    I’m a loyal BB fan but wont wait much beyond the fall OS release! the Q10 is decent, but everything you do takes more swipes/actions than on the older versions –

    DS

  34. I gotta say, that I have own just one bb the bb style, and I’d like it, I was more into nokia, but since they partner with windows I dont feel that intrest in their device any more, so I`ve thinking on going back to bb. I don’t like apple or itunes, and I found that the music player from bb on the style is one of my real favs. Perhaps maybe the syncing with gmail or microsoft mail can be improve for good, and please keep using the qwerty keyboard, even on as a flip will do good have it.

  35. LRF

    For me, it’s all about the keyboard. I switched from the 9900 to the Z10. Hated it. Tried to make it work for me, but simply put: it’s a piece of crap.

    Hoped to hear good things about the Q10, but sorry to see it’s hopeless.

    I agree with your comment that apparently 24 year olds are designing these toys.

    I bought 4 computer/phone/notepad devices this winter. Returned them all.

    Upgrading should be easy and intuitive. When it’s clunky and annoying – I return for refunds.

    End of story. My BB900 may not be perfect, but until someone shows something worthy of buying, I’m not budging.

    A tactile keyboard is imperative.

  36. Seth Skootsky

    I was a loyal Blackberry user for many, many years. I am one of the 50-plus year old lawyers Mr. McQueen mentions. I didn’t need any apps! Not even Starbucks. What I need is email, maps with driving instructions, camera, a good internet browser (much better than what I had on my Storm 2) and voice-to-text (“VTT”). VTT was key for me because if it works well, you don’t need a physical keyboard to create emails. On my own I came up with a test of VTT. I spoke into three phones what is reputed to be the most difficult tongue twister: “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.” An HTC phone running Android jellybean got it perfect — even the punctuation. The Apple iphone had some small errors. The Z-10? A complete fail!!!!! I figured that if Blackberry’s new software has problems with a feature I know about, it must have many more problems that I would not discover until later. So I bought the HTC and ended a long relationship with Blackberry. I agree with Mr. McQueen 100% that both the product and the marketing now seem disconnected from the portion of the customer base that was the most loyal, i.e., people who wanted to use Blackberrys to do their work.

  37. DPS

    I’d like to add one more comment to my prior posting – unlike in the BB7/BES world, the BB10 personalization settings are not saved on the new BB10 server, so each time you activate/re-activate a device, you need to set it up all over again, including blue tooth and WIFI. Yes you can try and backup and then restore to the new/wiped device, but even that isn’t working well… This is a huge step backward in my view…

    DPS

  38. Chris P

    Here’s why Blackberry sucks. They make cut rate phones, and try to pawn em off as the latest and greatest. People are not that stupid, and its insulting to be treated like this by such a loser, washed up company.

    Now if they were selling unlocked z10’s off their website for $350, this would change the whole scenario overnight. I would think about getting one at $300-$350 at release date (not now of course because its old now) They must be smoking crack if they think they can get Apple profit margins for their budget quality devices. How much are they trying to make off a phone that costs them $154 to make? They can ask whatever they want, but I, and everybody else is just gonna run and get a Chinese phone for under $200 that has better specs then z10. The Chinese companies are not as greedy, and they know the secret which is “If you build it, they will come” I cringe to see that Blackberry is spending more on marketing, that is not the future. The future is making a great device at a great price, people will find it trust me. Look at the Red Rice @ $130. Competition is fierce right now, and Blackberry seems like they don’t even know that.

    They’re talking about doing a 720p screen and dual core on the z30, these clowns just don’t get it do they? I was gonna buy the z10 until I started doing research. Kinda like the 4.2″ screen is fine, until you wanna do anything with your z10.

    I didn’t even know all this crap about the Q10, but it doesn’t surprise me, Blackberry is a certified fail at this point, unless the z30 comes in with the Snapdragon 800 and 1080p with a bigger battery and isn’t 9mm thick like the z10, which is just laughable. If I want a 9mm thick phone, I can buy the Nexus 4 at 300 bucks on Google play, and that phone craps all over the z10 in every possible way.

  39. Chris P

    What do you expect tho from a company who just figured out in this last year to change their name from a term for a butthole?

  40. Bummed in NYC

    I’m heartened to read that BlackBerry executives have read this extraordinarily good post. It’s the first indication I’ve seen that BB has paid *any* attention to what BB users want and need. I upgraded to a BB Bold 9930 in 2011 (after a very long wait for it, I bought one the day it went on sale). As a piece of hardware, it is perfect: it has a touchscreen, a trackpad, and the best keyboard that BB has every produced. Although I’m not ready for a new BB yet, I checked out the Q10 in the Verizon store: no trackpad and an unergonomic keyboard fit only for infant hands (my hands are small, but they’re not that small).

    I can’t speak to the new operating system, but I will never buy a Q10. If BB would upgrade the Bold with new software, well, now we’re talking. Otherwise, this BB lover, and BB stockholder, will be looking elsewhere for her next phone.

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