Blackberry's New OS Met With Resounding 'Meh'

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Today Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry, held one of those standard tech press conferences that are supposed to get the bloggers all jazzed about their latest offering, inspiring them to write what basically turns into free PR. But no one got excited this time. Sure, the usual tech voices from the usual tech sites weighed in, but RIM's news doesn't have writers all that excited, even as the company revealed a prototype for the operating system that maybe will save it from its very clear doom. 

To be fair today's big reveal was just a prototype of future BlackBerry 10 phones, which RIM is putting out now for developer testing and app making. When they hit consumer hands, BBerry 10 OS phones will look and feel a lot different. Right now, it looks like a shrunken down version of the much hated (and failed) Playbook, which probably doesn't help in the excitement department.  But perhaps it's the acceptance of BlackBerry's imminent failure that has sucked the enthusiasm out of this presser. With this last year of sad news stories for RIM, the company has long passed underdog territory for Loserville, and it's not clear that it will get a comeback now or ever. 

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It's not that this event hasn't drawn the press. As with any press conference, the blogger chatter has shown up on Techmeme, the Great Tech News Aggregator. But it only held that number one spot for about an hour, slipping below that Google rogue engineer story. Even one of the less exciting Apple releases, like iTunes Match, would sit there for at least half a day. But, even worse for RIM, the actual chatter doesn't drum up much enthusiasm for some future BBerry device, which we hear will come out sometime in October.

It's just all kind of meh:

  • From Gizmodo, which had its entire staff (basically) meta-blogging the Apple iPad release. "Here it is: BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device. Everybody in the room will be going home with one. It's like the saddest episode of Oprah you ever saw," writes Brian Barrett, the sole blogger covering today's event. 
  • And then another from CNet's Brian Bennet, upon seeing the the actual phone. "If you've lost hope that RIM smartphones running the promised BlackBerry 10 operating system would ever happen, you're not alone ... seeing the gizmo for the first time didn't give me as much of a thrill as say a real device slated for actual production," he writes
  • "RIM Unveils Rough Version of New Phone" yawns the Bits Blog headline.
  • And The Verge's Dieter Bohn makes it sound like a lot of the same old, which is not currently working for RIM. "The Dev Alpha is in almost every regard a shrunken-down BlackBerry PlayBook," he writes, followed by: "As far as the OS goes, this is almost entirely the PlayBook OS." 

Is it any wonder RIM's stock is down

Not the entire tech community has given up on the original smartphone, however. ZDNet's Matthew Miller uses the word "amazing" in his write-up. "After seeing this developer device I have to say RIM may not yet be out of the smartphone game," he writes using some very uncertain language. 

But, even if Research in Motion revealed something mind-blowing, it's hard to get excited about a perpetually losing team. Over the last few months alone, the BlackBerry maker has looked increasingly desperate. Not long after a bunch of senior executives fled the company, it hired a law firm for "restructuring," as it considered its options going forward, including selling off the company. In that same time, it lost its top spot as the number one phone in its native country, Canada, and started losing its dominance in Europe as well. The bad headlines have not stopped.  

Like a sports team that never wins, only the diehard fans continue to get behind RIM. In BlackBerry's case, the diehard-est fan seem to be the U.S. government, which has continued buying, says RIM. Then again, just two months ago, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ditched the government's smartphone of choice. Now, even the faithful are migrating. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.