By Stephen Schenck | February 13, 2013 7:05 AM
It should hardly come as a surprise when a smartphone is available in another country before the US; by this point, we’re all painfully aware of how paranoid US carriers are about the dreaded demon-possessed smartphone that’s going to bring their networks to a halt, and the painfully slow certification processes they employ to vet models for operation. In that light, the waits that BlackBerry fans in the US face for the arrival of the Z10, and months later the Q10, don’t even feel like news.
But still, we had so much hope that BlackBerry might “pull an Apple” and see its new hardware make a speedy debut on networks all around the globe. After all, the BlackBerry 10 launch was a long time coming, and we heard all sorts of talk last fall about how excited the carriers reportedly were to get their hands on these models, along with insinuation that they could be getting an early start to testing. Rumors early this year gave us a wide swath of potential retail launch dates, and while we ultimately saw the UK and Canada get their BlackBerrys right out of the gate, the US delays are just about as lengthy as could be.
Right now, it could still be another month before the Z10 comes out, and while other nations will be enjoying their Q10s sometime in April, the US could be waiting until June. That one, especially, was hard to swallow, because I wager that a lot of fans of smartphones with hardware keyboards have been eagerly awaiting the BB10 launch as their chance to finally get a modern phone with the hardware they crave, and they now could be out of luck until nearly summer.
All that said, while the situation for BlackBerry in the US isn’t what I’d like to be seeing, I don’t think it’s necessarily the end of the world, and these additional delays could even end up being somewhat beneficial to the company.
One big reason you might thing we should fear these delays is all the news that’s about to break of some really high-end smartphones from other companies. We’ve got announcements from HTC and Nokia right over the horizon, Samsung’s Galaxy S IV is prepared to absolutely dominate headlines this spring, and by the time the Q10 is ready to come to the States, Apple could be just about ready to announce the next iPhone; surely, if you’ve only been casually interested in BlackBerry 10, that sounds like a whole lot of potential for distraction.
And while BlackBerry 10 hardware is certainly good, and the company made some smart decisions like not skimping on RAM, we’re about to see a lot of those high-end devices I just mentioned really raise the stakes with components like 1080p screens and next-gen SoCs. At first, I was concerned that would make BlackBerry 10 out to be the new Windows Phone, perpetually behind the hardware curve, but I think that snap judgment is wrong-minded.
After all, BlackBerry was never about cutting-edge phone hardware; leave the Android boys to play that winner-less game of continually trying to outdo each other. If the sort of users who are going to be interested in BlackBerry are more concerned with software and user experience, these extra months could be key to really helping fleshing that out, especially when it comes to apps.
BlackBerry 10 may have launched with 70,000 some apps, but it’s going to need more than a bunch of ported software in order to offer something special. These next few months are going to give developers chances to start creating BlackBerry 10 exclusives with the feedback of a very real, continually growing user base. I’m hesitant to call it a public beta test, as the OS itself is already quite polished, and frankly that’s a bit of an ugly US-centric view of the world to take, but I’m betting that this extra time really could help the Z10 and Q10 come to the US ready to deliver better user experiences than they did when first debuting internationally.
Besides just better software arriving, we’re going to be hearing about that software all along the way. The big BlackBerry-focused news sites are going to have a field day as eagerly-awaiting fans in the US eat up every little tidbit of BlackBerry coverage that comes courtesy of this growing international user base and its effect on development.
Especially for people holding out for the Q10, with 16+ weeks of waiting ahead of them, all this news is going to keep their interest from waning, and while it may seem like an agonizing tease, they’re only going to be more excited for the moment they can finally get their hands on the hardware.
There’s a risk that the undecided may be swept away by newer Android, Windows Phone, and (the promise of) iPhone models, but I’m feeling positive about BlackBerry’s chances. Initial impressions of BlackBerry 10 have been strong, and as word about the platform’s fresh new start spreads over the next few months, I really believe that even some skeptics could end up growing intrigued by this OS and its hardware. After all, telling people simultaneously “this is so great” and “oh, but you can’t have it” sounds like a fantastic recipe for brewing-up desire.