So Is BlackBerry Dead Yet Or What?

By Jordan Mammo email: , Feb 03, 2013 10:45 AM EST

BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), survived a very critical week these last seven days. After delaying its first touch-based phone a number of times, the company finally revealed the BlackBerry Z10 during a press conference intended to dramatically signal convey one message: We're back. However, was it much of a comeback?

Reviews of the press conference itself have been mixed to downright negative, with BuzzFeed declaring the upshot of the company's big day as "BlackBerry Announces The End Of BlackBerry."

Ouch. But was it that bad? And is the BlackBerry Z10 doomed before it even hits the market?

The Canadian company didn't do itself any favors by announcing that customers in the United States wouldn't be able to purchase the phone until March. By then, the hype machine for Samsung's anticipated Galaxy S3 successor will have already hit full gear, not to mention there could be unforeseen problems with the BlackBerry Z10 that make its release somewhat anticlimactic.

That's neither here nor there, however, so let's get down to business: How is the actual phone?

According to The Verge, who scored the Z10 a 7/10, it's a nice piece of hardware. The question is whether that's enough to compete with smartphones that have been refined extremely well over the last few years.

"The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn't necessarily do anything better than any of its competition. ... in fact if anything is the case, it's that the Z10 can't yet do some things that other devices can. Or at least, can't do them quite as well," wrote Joshua Topolsky.

"And that's where I end up. The Z10 is a fine device, well made, reasonably priced, backed by a company with a long track record. But it's not the only device of its kind, and it's swimming against a massive wave of entrenched players with really, really good products."

Engadget seemed to echo The Verge in its own review. The Z10 is a capable phone that will rake in BlackBerry fans easily, but it might have a harder time attracting Android or iOS users.

"Tragically, there's really nothing to love," wrote Tim Stevens. "Nothing in the Z10 stands out as class-leading and, while the BB10 OS does have a lot of charm and brings all the best productivity-focused attributes of BlackBerry to bear in a much more modern package, the app selection is poor and the gestures here aren't so good that they make up for that major shortcoming."

"Will more and better apps come with time? Absolutely, but after waiting this long (and then making Americans wait another month yet) BlackBerry really needed to make a huge impact out of the gate. Unfortunately, it hasn't."

The folks at CNET seemed to have a generally more positive view of the BlackBerry Z10, with its reviewer calling the visual design polished and noting that most of the features expected in a smartphone are included. Still, his conclusion was this similar to the previous two reviewers.

"BlackBerry lovers who can get past the rookie mistakes will find a polished-looking OS that's packed with interesting and useful features, but happy Android and iOS users won't find a reason to switch."

Bottom line: The BlackBerry Z10 is a good phone that will definitely attract BlackBerry fans and anyone willing to give it a chance. Those who are already satisfied with their smartphones, though, don't really need to stop over for a test drive.

Whether this kind of reception will be enough to bring the company's fortunes back up remains to be seen. Canadian and UK shoppers will be able to purchase the phone next week, if they can't already. Like I said before, though, Stateside customers will have to wait another month. And, that's a long wait.

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