Technology Journalist and Copywriter

Kate O'Flaherty


Welcome to my blog, featuring industry musings and opinions on the latest products

By kateoflaherty, Jan 31 2013 10:46AM

When RIM announced it would now be known as its smartphone brand 'BlackBerry', the obvious response was, so what? The average customer won't know the difference.

It is time the Canadian firm defined its audience. Once a business staple, the BlackBerry was aimed at consumers a few years ago and things started to go wrong. What was once respected as a business handset with convenient access to email became the phone of chavs. The London Riots didn't do the company any good either, when those involved reportedly used its BBM software to communicate.

BlackBerry also suffered a network outage around that time - and the downward spiral began from which it is still to recover.

When BlackBerry 10 launched alongside two smartphones - the Z10 and Q10 - yesterday, it appeared the firm is aiming at both business and consumer users, or specifically, the dual requirement for business handset capable of both work and leisure. BlackBerry has even kept the QWERTY keyboard on one of the new handsets, the Q10.

But the move hasn't done much for the ailing firm so far, with shares dropping by 12% when it announced the new OS and handsets.

Perhaps it just wasn't dramatic enough. The work/leisure partition which exists within the software is certainly a novel idea, but you have to wonder whether there is really a need for it. Android is capable of similar partitioning and is already a favourite inside many businesses.

On the other hand, maybe the firm has got it right this time, once again targeting a market it understands. That's something a name change alone won't solve.

By kateoflaherty, Nov 6 2012 10:45AM

Microsoft's newly-launched Windows Phone 8 might have a chance of gaining more share, but it is acres away from competing with Android just yet.

IDC figures show that in the third quarter of 2012, 3.6 million handsets were shipped running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system (OS). This is a 140% increase on the same period last year but still way behind Android, which shipped a massive 136 million handsets during the same period.

Even so, IDC predicts Windows Phone could jump to third place in 2013, partly due to Blackberry OS' decline. The prediction only puts the Microsoft OS at 6.6%, compared with Android's current global share of 75%, but it seems Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has much bigger ideas.

According to IT Pro, Ballmer said at an event that he expects his newly-launched OS to become a big challenger in the market. This is partly due to the huge amounts of advertising that have been thrown at it and integration with the software giant's Windows 8 operating system.

The launch of Windows 8 last month saw Apple-like queues and to Microsoft's credit, it seems to be selling well. However, if Ballmer expects Windows Phone 8 to be just as successful, he is going to be disappointed.

Last week, Microsoft partner Nokia launched its Windows Phone 8 Lumia smartphones, after reporting an underlying loss for its third quarter in October. To date, phones running Windows Phone have been poor, with no 'killer' device to really raise the OS' profile. Its partnership with Nokia was largely a mistake for most parties, and HTC's Android smartphones hold far more appeal than their Windows Phone counterparts.

The figures speak for themselves. If Windows Phone is to mimic the success of Android it needs to be original, it needs to engage and encourage developers, it needs to be open.

Ballmer can throw marketing spend at the OS but what he really needs to do is inspire people. As Windows is often thought to be the standard for PCs, Android is closer to becoming that for smartphones. If Microsoft doesn't overhaul its attitude soon, its $1bn advertising spend could be a wasted investment.

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