Bhardwaj also said the UI favors communication-style activities that have long formed the backbone of what people use a BlackBerry for, compared to the more general-purpose iOS and Android, where individual apps are the focus and you manipulate them with one hand while holding the device in another. He said that this orientation to the dominant psychographic segment of the BlackBerry user base should both appeal to the 80 million current BlackBerry subscribers and provide a meaningful UI differentiation from iOS and Android.
BlackBerry 10's accommodations for multiple development options -- including native C++, HTML5, recompiled Android, and Adobe AIR -- is also a boon. "If there was any move that was going to save them, it was to have a real-time OS like QNX underneath everything they did that had tool chains for all the different approaches that people like to program in," said Dennis Gearon, co-founder of Kwince. "I have to say I'm absolutely amazed that they supported already as many platforms as they do."
Also garnering approval was RIM's Cascade UI development framework. "Cascade is very powerful," says Martin Goulet, software developer at Macadamian Technologies, which is focused on the usability of software and is porting a Windows 8 app to BlackBerry 10. (Windows 8, Microsoft's upcoming OS with an orientation for tablets, presents another competitive challenge for RIM.)
Marketing, developer outreach vital
But RIM's prospects with BlackBerry 10 may come down to marketing.
Kwince's Gearon, for one, sees marketing as an imperative for drumming up excitement about the platform. "There's a good chance they can increase market share," said Gearon, who describes himself as an Android fan who nonetheless sees an opportunity for BlackBerry. "Every Android implementation I've seen has been a little bit jerky. I know enough about QNX, which is probably one of the premier OSes to build real-time things on and a phone is a real-time app."
Developer outreach will be critical, added Ravi Mishra, vice president of business development at software development firm Reliable Coders. "They really need to engage developers," Mishra said. "We are the people who are out there who are influencing the market."
RIM, for its part, has been doing just that, giving developers BlackBerry 10 prototypes as well as BlackBerry PlayBook tablets and holding events like this week's BlackBerry Jam Americas conference in Silicon Valley.
The big test for RIM will occur next year, when users can add BlackBerry 10 to the list of mobile computing options.
InfoWorld Executive Editor Galen Gruman contributed to this report.
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