Nokia and Blackberry: two names, two giants, two of the first kings during the reign of mobile phones. During the 90’s, Nokia was one of the most popular mobile phone manufacturers. The Finnish brand made affordable mobile phones available to the masses and replaced the beeper. Nokia has produced user-friendly and durable mobile phones for years. The brands mass popularity began when they released the Nokia 5110, packed with features like caller ID and SMS/text. Remember the Nokia 3310? It was an indestructible phone with a battery that would last for more than a week. The company has also released many funky and innovative designs to cater to every market. From teenagers to businessmen, Nokia was the primary choice. All the other mobile phone brands were just “other phones”.
Then came Research In Motion’s Blackberry. The Canadian Telecoms company released their first device, called Blackberry 850, which was an email pager released in 1999. Its physical qwerty keyboard, monochrome screen and clamshell design was very popular. It was a hit among businessmen thanks to the instantaneous email and pager features. Throughout the years, Blackberry developed one of the first true modern smartphones with a colour screen with email, text, call support with mobile Internet connection. They also featured the first trackball and eventually the track pad for the nifty gadget to make navigation easier. With the solid hardware, tactile qwerty keys, Blackberry Messenger and good battery life, it gave many other mobile manufacturers a run for their money. Nokia also released their own qwerty phones. Around this time, everyone wanted to be seen with a Blackberry or a high end Nokia. However, the Apple iPhone came along.
Fall From Grace
When the first generation iPhone was introduced by Apple in 2007, the landscape of the smartphone market began to change. With the release of the iPhone 3G, Nokia and Blackberry sales suffered. It was the beginning of the end for Nokia and a struggle for survival for Blackberry. The iPhone was revolutionary because it featured a multi-touch touchscreen where the user could directly type into the coloured screen or display, eliminating the physical keyboard and touch pad. With its release, everyone wanted to have one.
While the original kings no longer sat on their mobile thrones, iPhone and Samsung became the top competitors in the market. Nokia’s device and services division was purchased by Microsoft while Blackberry was still holding on for their survival with different CEOs trying to save their sinking ship. The iPhone succeeded in turning the smartphone into a consumer device instead of just marketing it as a corporate device. Blackberry was doing well in that area, making waves with their compact and consumer friendly Blackberry Pearl. The slick iOS revolutionised how people interacted with their device as compared to the clunky Symbian software by Nokia and Blackberry OS. Nokia and Blackberry still refused to adapt to new trends and stuck with their guns. It was their inability to take risks that contributed to their downfall.
Nokia’s Possible Resurrection
Nokia and Microsoft have agreed that the Finnish company will not use the Nokia brand name on mobile phones until December 2015. Until then all Lumia phones manufactured after the signed agreement will have the Microsoft branding with the pre-installed Windows mobile OS.
Recently, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri announced that Nokia has the intention of getting back into the smartphone market in 2016. Suri stated that Nokia could design the new handsets and then license the designs and the Nokia brand name to an un-named partner. The announcement and the timing of the planned return of the former no.1 mobile manufacturer in the world should be no surprise; the Lumia smartphone has that classic Nokia simplicity and the release of the Nokia N1 tablet is powered by Android Lollipop with Nokia’s Z launcher.
One of the most obvious questions among Nokia fans and industry leaders is: which operating system will Nokia use? The return of the Nokia will surely focus on the experience of consumers which means an OS that is familiar and understandable by the vast majority of the public and which offers strong support for mobile apps and the availability of social networks is the best bet. Speculation is leading many to believe Android will be the OS. The good thing about Nokia is they have learned to adapt to the current smartphone climate; they have minimised the risks involved in their return and they are perfectly posed to be more nimble and agile as compared to a few years back.
One thing you can say about Blackberry is that their phones are tough. Certainly a survivor amidst the many hits and misses since iPhone and Samsung started to dominate the smartphone market, Blackberry tried to enter the touchscreen smartphone market with their Z10. The eventual release of their latest OS, BB10 on the Z10 hardly even made a dent in the touchscreen market and production ceased not too long after it was released. With the popularity of the Blackberry Bold back in the day, the Canadian company released the Blackberry Classic last year. Blackberry returned to form with a physical and tactile keyboard, touchscreen, reliable track pad and navigation bar. It also gave support to Android apps using BB10 OS.
Now there are rumours going around that Blackberry will return with a full Android smartphone dubbed “Blackberry Venice”. The leaked image shows a Blackberry phone with a full Android interface, including other Google apps like Drive, Maps and Chrome. It also shows curved edges just like the Samsung S6 Edge. Rumours also state that it will feature a slide-out physical keyboard which Blackberry is known and loved for. The rumoured specs of the Venice include a 5.4-inch display with 2560-by-1440 resolution, an 18-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front camera, a 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor and 3 GB of RAM. Blackberry itself has teased a phone with a slide down keyboard at the Mobile World Congress last March but the phone seems to be running on BB10. If Blackberry played their cards right and decided to release a full Android smartphone, it will be a good way to breathe some new life into the Blackberry hardware sales while establishing the services and enterprise software from which the company will hope to get a big bite of revenue. There are a number of Blackberry users who aren’t sold with the idea of an Android-powered Blackberry. The rumoured device may be in partnership with AT&T, who have had a long partnership with Blackberry.
If the rumours are true, 2016 will be an exciting year for Nokia and Blackberry fans and for many consumers as well. Time will tell.
Featured Image credit: David via Flikr