BlackBerry 10

As of today, BlackBerry 10 has been public and in people's hands for just over one week. A lot has been written by industry pundits and analysts. Even more has been written by Team CrackBerry, who's mission is to bring you more insightful and helpful information than anyone else out there.

So let's look back over the last week and think about what has happened.

The big launch happened last Wednesday in NYC. The stock had been rallying hard in advance of Wednesday. It traded over $16 per share the morning of the launch and then crashed within 30 minutes of the launch event. By the next day the stock was in the mid $12 range.

The major components of the negative reaction are: 1) Z10 not hitting the US market until March; 2) Not enough big name apps announced; 3) Nothing really new announced compared to what was already known. There just wasn't enough good news to counteract Wall Street's feelings that this was not enough.

In my view, BlackBerry should not have press released news the day before and the day after the event. That was a mistake. Why tell us the expanded catalog of song, movies and TV shows two days before the launch? Why press release the great selection of apps the day after the launch? BlackBerry, please explain to me why you didn't announce all these amazing Unity games that are coming to BlackBerry 10 on the actual launch day rather than doing it 6 days later?

I can understand why the market was so negative on the launch. It was easier to see the bad news than the good news, especially for bearish analysts and investors.

Yet, if you look at the recovery in the stock price since January 31st, it's evident that BlackBerry did something amazingly right.

First, they seeded devices to everyone in the audience at the global launch events. Thousands of media (and analysts) now have Z10s in their hands. BlackBerry even made it uber simple to start using them immediately. For example in Toronto they handed out pre-activated Canadian carrier SIM cards along with the devices. That's 60 days of free service for everyone. That's a lot of influential people showing off their new Z10. Marketing money well spent. Every time I show off the Hub, keyboard, time shift camera or BBM video with screen sharing people say to me, "Oh man, I want that phone!"

The UK and Canadian launches were also well coordinated. In the UK the phones went on sale the day after the global launch event. In Canada, they went on sale 6 days later, but the Canadian operators were very aggressive with pre-orders. This has never happened before in BlackBerry land. Smart move. It's working.

BlackBerry Canada 

Between stories of sell-outs in the UK and strong pre-orders in Canada, people were busy reading online reviews of the Z10. Of the media folks who had Z10 review units under embargo before the launch, they all had reviews queued up to be published the moment the embargo was lifted. That's why you saw such a flurry of posts on CrackBerry on Wednesday morning last week.

The reviews were mixed, as always. Many influential people loved the Z10. Some didn't see it as being different enough. The usual complaint was about apps. But the people who complain about apps don't get the fact that this is the strongest pre-launch developer support any platform has ever had. When iOS launched it had zero apps. When Android launched I don't know how many apps it had, but it wasn't 70,000. BlackBerry has been very aggressive (and successful) over the last year in making it easy for developers to bring apps to the platform. They're coming. More will come. This is not the old RIM. This is the new BlackBerry.

The bulls on the stock point to the strong preorder volume, the mix of non-BlackBerry customers who are buying the Z10, and the record setting sales numbers that BlackBerry announced yesterday. The bears point to manufactured scarcity as the reason for stock-outs, and find poorly trained store managers to show as "proof" that nobody wants a Z10. Some of the logic could pass as comedy if the stakes in this game weren't so high.

One week after the launch, I'm quite enthusiastic about where BlackBerry stands. When I show people the phone they want one. They see how different it really is. The product is exceptional. It's not without minor bugs, but no showstoppers are present and it really is an incredible phone that is a joy to use. 

I think it's going to sell very well. It remains to be seen how well, and obviously the numbers matter a lot to the financial future of the company.

This is only the beginning. BlackBerry has to drive its QNX-powered car at full speed. They need to get carrier approval in the US as quickly as possible. They need to be out in full force marketing. They need to keep hunting down developers. They need to deliver on promises to bring Skype and Kindle (and other committed apps) to the platform. They need to aggressively go after new sources of service revenue to counteract the obvious decline in BIS service fees that is coming.

In short, there is still a TON of work left to do. But I believe we're looking at a new company. As far as the consumer market is concerned, BlackBerry is back.