BlackBerry 10 Launch Date Announced - But It's Too Late

What are you doing on January 30, 2013? I'm guessing you're not waiting in line to get the first BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Research In Motion revealed the launch event date on Monday. Other than that, the company offered few specifics, saying only: "The event will happen simultaneously in multiple countries around the world, where details of the smartphones and their availability will be announced."

I can't wait.

No. Literally, I can't wait.

The Mobile World Has Already Moved On

And neither can anybody else. In fact, very few people have been willing to wait for the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system. Instead they've been busy snapping up Apple iOS and Google Android devices as fast as they can. The preternaturally patient ones hung out for Windows Phone 8, and even they don't have to wait any more.

If BlackBerry 10 had been released on January 30, 2012, it still might have been too late. But by 2013, RIM's window of opportunity seems slammed shut.

It's not that BlackBerry 10 will be worthless. Indications are that the new operating system has a number of interesting features (more on that later). It's more that it no longer matters how good it is unless it's massively better than what's already out there.

Just as good isn't good enough. Heck, even quite-a-bit-better probably isn't good enough. Don't believe me? Ask the folks who worked on Palm's webOS.

Sure, big companies deeply invested in the BlackBerry ecosystem may hang around another generation or two. But most of them are already looking for a way out. I just heard of a big company I used to work with that's replacing users' BlackBerrys with the iPhone 4. Yup, not the 5 or even the 4S, the freakin' 4. A two-generations-out-of-date iPhone was enough to keep them from waiting for BlackBerry 10.

BlackBerry Isn't Worthless, Just Doomed

All this doesn't mean that there's no value in BlackBerry 10, especially for enterprises. As ReadWrite's Dan Rowinksi pointed out in September (Showing Off BlackBerry 10, RIM Aims To Both Fit In & Stand Out), new features include

BlackBerry Hub: an always-on inbox that stores emails, texts, calendar, events and BlackBerry Messenger.

BlackBerry Balance: which customizes the user experience between personal and work interfaces.

Predictive Text: which the company hopes will revolutionize typing on mobile devices.

Active Frames: small, developer-customizable widgets that live on the device's home screen - a cross between Android Widgets and Windows Phone 8 Live Tiles.

Will all that be enough to RIM relevant again? Back in June, Research In Motion was ReadWrite's first ever DeathWatch. Nothing that's happened since has done anything to commute BlackBerry's sentence. And nothing that happens on January 30th is likely to help either. 

One more thing: Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against BlackBerry. I was a user for years, and really liked my Curve - until those fancy iPhones and Androids made me envious. Back in April, I wrote A Requiem For RIM lauding some of the things that I loved about the BlackBerry. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the company and hope we are all wrong about its future. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.