I have been a little quiet on the good 'ol CrackBerry blogs the past couple of weeks, ever since I went to NYC to interview Kristian Tear two weeks ago (almost to the hour!) for the launch of the BlackBerry Q10 in the USA. The following day was the amazing Talk Mobile Launch Party, upon which I pulled an all-nighter to catch my early Friday morning flight into Montreal for a weekend of awesome Formula 1 action. Coming home from Montreal on the Monday night, I promptly got sick, and last week turned into one of those useless weeks for getting work done.
I'm back on track once again and will be playing catch up this week on a long list of stories I want to get written for CrackBerry. And for this week's From the Editor's Desk, I want to focus by sounding off on Apple's WWDC keynote last week. A lot of you have been asking me for my thoughts on the keynote and Apple's announcements. I missed the keynote as it was broadcast live, but I **finally** dedicated two hours to watching it. There's lots to talk about today, so let's get to it!
Thinking back to a wonderful weekend of Formula 1
Before we get to the Apple stuff, I just had to share a few select photos from my weekend of BlackBerry and F1 in Montreal. Long time readers of CrackBerry will know that I'm a HUGE fan of F1 and I've been wanting to see BlackBerry sponsor a team for years. Going back to March 2007, literally just days after CrackBerry.com officially launched as a website, I wrote this editorial suggesting BlackBerry should sponsor an F1 team. It just made sense. It took a few years and a change in the management team, but it finally happened!
And I still think it was a great decision. On the world stage Formula 1 is massive, and BlackBerry did well in choosing Mercedes as a team. Looking at all the teams in F1 right now, it's just a logical fit on a brand level (it's aspirational, but still mass market - unlike Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren, etc.). Plus with drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Ross Brawn as team principle, you just know the Mercedes car and drivers will show up on the camera a lot, and they certainly have this year.
With Montreal as BlackBerry's "home grand prix" of sorts, the company had a great presence in Montreal beyond the race track. On Rue Peel (aka. Peel Street), BlackBerry was out in full force, with lots of Z10 and Q10 demos being given. The awesome BlackBerry van was out on the street getting attention, as was a pop-up BlackBerry 10 trailer/kiosk. Mercedes and BlackBerry also setup a wicked exhibit on one street, where you could get in on the pit stop action and race the clock on a tire change. It was great to see.
While Saturday's qualifying session was rainy and wet, the weather was beautiful for Sunday's race. Sitting in Grand Stand 11, I recorded the first corner on my Q10 (see video above). Talk about LOUD. The audio recording actually overwhelmed the Q10's audio recording capabilities. I guess this is the ultimate audio recording test. Still some work to be done!
At the end of the race, Lewis Hamilton took the third step on the podium. Overall, another solid showing for Mercedes and BlackBerry, and the weekend was a whole lot of fun. Be sure to hit up the photo gallery.
iOS 7 and Apple's WWDC Keynote
When Apple takes to the stage, the whole tech industry pauses to watch what they've been up to. Adam already summed up where Apple swiped a thing or two from BlackBerry, and our sibling site iMore has been covering every bit of iOS 7 news coming out of WWDC in detail, so here I'm just going to throw out some of my random reactions, thoughts and takeaways after watching the event:
- Apple slights BlackBerry: And if not intentionally a slight, Apple at least proved they are lazy. This came later in the keynote, but I'm going to address it first since CrackBerry is a BlackBerry site. While Apple CEO Tim Cook was beginning to talk about the success of the iPhone, he addressed the slide above showing the % of Very satisfied users across mobile platforms. Apple gave BlackBerry the shaft here, not only spelling BlackBerry wrong -- I WANT TO SEE TWO CAPITAL B'S THE NEXT TIME! -- but they also neglected to mention that the 32% rating (the lowest of the bunch) was in regards to older BlackBerry 7 Smartphones and did not include BlackBerry's newest BlackBerry 10 phones. There's a reason BlackBerry needed to build a new mobile platform, so these numbers are not surprising. But they're also not reflective of the current state of BlackBerry. I'm going to remember this transgression...
- Bring on Mavericks and the new Mac Pro: Honestly, what excited me most from the keynote were the Desktop announcements. I switched from PC to Mac just over five years ago, and finally OS X Mavericks is going to fix what has been pissing me off for five years... giving me proper support for multiple displays. I've also been waiting on a new Mac Pro for years now, so I'll definitely be picking the new one up. When I asked my fiancee what she thought of the look of it, she proclaimed it looks like a garbage can, which I can't really argue with. Personally, I couldn't care less what the Mac Pro looked like - on a desktop machine I'm going to thrown down thousands of dollars for, what I care about is PERFORMANCE. This isn't the type of hardware where Apple should be sacrificing any function for fashion, and it appears like they have. It will be a great machine for a lot of people, but for many others it's going to lack the flexibility and expandability they were expecting to have in their next Mac Pro, and that's a bit of a problem.
- Siri going Bing instead of Google Results: Interesting. I remember when Steve Ballmer showed up on stage at a BlackBerry keynote and announced a deeper partnership with BlackBerry. We cringed. Then we wrote tutorials on how to change your default web browser search engine back to Google from Bing. Look, I'm sure Bing is pretty good these days (Dan Rubino tells me it is), but I still the vast majority of customers out there would prefer Google-powered Siri results on this one (at least the web browser is still defaulting to Google). For a company like Apple that keeps repeating the message that they want to build products that delight their customers, I found this move curious to say the least.
- BlackBerry could have (and should have?) unleashed the Tribe: The Astonishing Tribe that is. While watching the keynote and seeing the unveiling of iOS 7, I couldn't help but think about TAT and all of the awesome demos we saw for the year + leading up to the launch of BlackBerry 10. Specifically, I thought... BlackBerry could have done this if they wanted to. A lot of the hype around iOS 7 was around its updated lipstick, or eye candy if you will. I know the reviews to the new look of iOS 7 have been mixed following the launch. I'll reserve full judgment until it's out and I can try it, but in general I think I'm liking the direction Apple has taken here to freshen up the aging iOS platform (remember, iOS is literally the oldest mobile OS on the market now). It's clean, it's bright, it's fun. When BlackBerry made the jump from BlackBerry 7 to BlackBerry 10, it was a prime opportunity for the company to really overhaul the visual identity of the BlackBerry OS. And while BlackBerry did make plenty of changes to the user experience (gestures, hub, peek, flow), for the most part I'd argue they have been quite conservative on the visuals, keeping a similar visual identity. Thinking back to before BB10 launched, you may remember how we vented about the homescreen icons looking "old" instead of looking cutting edge as they should on a new OS. We couldn't help but feel that somehow the TAT guys were reigned in a little bit one what they really wanted to do. Ultimately, the BB10 homescreen did see a second revision of icons and I do really like the look of BB10, but watching the keynote just reminded me that BlackBerry needs to not be afraid to let go of some things in order to push forward. The competition isn't standing still.
- iOS in Car: With QNX (and now BlackBerry) being entrenched in the automotive industry, the announcement of iOS in Car definitely caught my attention. The immediate question was if the relationship here was an either or, or in addition to kind of thing. In other words, was this announcement directly cutting into BlackBerry's opportunity in automotive, or not. From what I have gathered so far, I don't think it is an either or. With iOS in car, Apple will essentially be projecting from the mobile device onto the car's display (similar to Airplay). The mobile device is still doing the heavy lifting.
Watching the reactions across the internet after the keynote, and in talking to guy's like iMore's Rene Ritchie, it's been interesting to see how the people who follow Apple closely have responded to the show and the announcements. For the last few years it has almost felt like Apple could do no wrong, but with this keynote it's feeling like Apple is a little more human once again. With iOS 7 being developed in the wake of Scott Forstall's departure, it's clear that the company is hustling like mad to get it finished (building the plane while they fly it). Part of it feels polished. Other parts are untouched. The tablet version wasn't shown yet, etc. etc. It just goes to show that this is a hard business and it's always moving. This stuff isn't magic. Mobile tech takes a lot of hard work by a lot of smart people to make happen, whether it's BlackBerry, Apple or any other company in the space.
As the keynote relates to BlackBerry, I'll say again what I've said before. The opportunities and challenges for BlackBerry are the same in an iOS 7 world as they were in an iOS 6 world. BlackBerry has their loyal core user base and its on them to keep innovating, keep executing and putting out products that excite people.
Where the Fu?! is 10.1 for the Z10 on AT&T and Verizon?
I want to finish my post today with a rant on 10.1 STILL not being on AT&T and Verizon. Wait. You know what?! I'm going to dedicate a whole new post to that. This fragmented OS rollout stuff needs more attention and really needs to be addressed by BlackBerry. It's driving me nuts!