Blackberry once held the lion’s share of the smartphone market. Their device was iconic, and professionals and consumers alike across North America desired a Blackberry device in their pocket. Since then times have changed, and juggernauts in the form of the iPhone and Android devices pushed Blackberry to a distant fourth place in smartphone market share.
Physical vs Touch
In the eyes of the user, the only significant point of difference between Blackberry and other smartphones is the existence of the physical keyboard. In recent years Blackberry has released many touch screen phones in order to try and compete with Apple and Google. It has become obvious however that the lead that Blackberry lost cannot be regained by utilizing the same touch screen technology as their competitors.
Innovation or Stagnation?
Blackberry was scoffed at for years for refusing to adapt to the the new touch screen trend in the smartphone industry. The Blackberry Storm was their first attempt at a touch screen phone, and it failed miserably. Apple and Google continued to refine their touch screen experience, and by the time Blackberry finally released a touch screen phone with a modern OS - The Z10 - it was already outdated by the competition.
It is ironic that Blackberry’s greatest innovation in 2014 - the Passport (released September 24, 2014) - has come about through the stagnation of the physical keyboard model. Blackberry is pouring their innovation into the physical keyboard phone with two releases this year: The Passport and The Classic (Set to release December 17, 2014). Critics are praising the new Blackberry phones due to their full support of their physical keyboard, and instead of pretending to be a traditional touch screen phone, they are now embracing their reputation as a physical keyboard company. Moving forward, the physical keyboard is Blackberry's greatest point of difference, and the one thing that will draw users in, who prefer a physical keyboard to the touch.
The Blackberry Passport is one of the most divisive smartphones of the year, with many people thinking it looks odd and out of place, while many more love the size and see it as a welcome addition to the smartphone world. One thing that is for certain is that Blackberry has finally innovated the physical keyboard design - offering a phone with features that no other phone today has.
This fresh approach is a welcome addition to the smartphone market, as it will surely push smartphone innovation even further.
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