BlackBerry 10 – Same Old, Same Old

Having had almost a month to bash it around, I’m going to write about BlackBerry 10 at length this week. Spoiler alert: It’s not going to be pretty. Everything that has put the product and the company behind the proverbial 8-ball is still firmly in place. No cohesive user experience, no sense of attention to detail, and an obvious (and at this point in the game, distressing) lack of any sort of “Human Interface” oversight structure. Like everything else that has come out of the Waterloo foundry over the last decade, the design philosophy seems to be based on “Wow, keen, look what we can do!” and not “What do users want – and need – to do?”

Yes, I know. This is getting repetitive. So for those of you with short attention spans, I can sum up all of the problems that are mostly likely going to consign the BB10 – and the company – to the scrap heap with one screen shot:

BlackBerry 10 email screenshot

Here we are, reading an email in the much vaunted “BlackBerry Hub”. The Hub is, quite frankly, a really good idea. All of your dynamic communications, in one convenient yet unlike-Android-not-totally-intrusive place. So far so good. But look at the screen. Do you see a screen button to move to the next message in this email account? Nope. Is there perhaps a gesture to flip to the next (or previous) message? Again, nope. You have to pop back to the hub every time, then select the next message. It’s just one tap … but it is an intrusive and annoying tap that you do over and over until you say “What the fuck were they thinking here?”

Is it a big thing? No, of course not. But it gets in the way, and eventually things that get in the way pile up until they are a full-fledged roadblock. Listen: The best small-screen computers have a design that lets them disappear as you work. The feeling is that it is just you and your data, and the device itself sort of fades into the background. It’s a wonderful experience … and one that you will never have if you grit your teeth and mutter “What the fuck” every time you pick up the device. And sadly, it didn’t have to be this way – like the dozens of other little things done wrong, it’s something that should have been caught, vetted, and smoothed over as the OS as it lurched towards release.

If you want a more detailed tour of the places where the new BlackBerry gets caught in the morass of the “old RIM” mindset, keep reading over the next few days. Otherwise you might want to skip any articles this week that have “BlackBerry” in the title, especially if – like me – you used to be a fan of the company. Because it irks. A lot.

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