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BlackBerry Z10: My First Week

I love the keyboard and UI. But the BlackBerry Z10 is missing too many key apps -- and betting big on enterprise IT's approval.

BlackBerry has obviously worked hard on its Web browser. It's nearly impossible to do any sort of actual benchmarking without creating cached, static versions of websites (the variables of what a page loads and what a network experiences one millisecond to the next cannot be fixed), but in casual use, side-by-side with various other devices, the BlackBerry either held its own or vastly outpaced its competitors when fetching Web pages.

When the browser came across sites running Flash, it gave me the option to turn Flash on, rather than just running it by default.

Now to the tough part: Yes, it's early days yet, but there are still far too many key applications missing to make the Z10 worth buying right now. Take banking: there's no Bank of America or Wells Fargo or any other sort of banking app -- if your money is in Emirates NBD, though, you're in good shape. There's no PayPal, there's no Amex. This is one of the major new conveniences of using smartphones, and the BlackBerry 10 OS must get some key apps here soon.

There are virtually no Google apps. No Google Plus, no Gmail app, no Google Maps, no Google Drive -- only Google Talk. There are Box and SugarSync, but no Dropbox (there is a connector). There's Cisco WebEx, but no Skype. There's no Evernote, but BlackBerry has written a connection from its Remember app and I was able to pull in all of my Evernote documents. Unfortunately, they're just listed in alphabetical order (I have hundreds), and the only logical way to find something is to use the BlackBerry Universal Search function (not a bad idea, I must say).

There are apps for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and they're quite well done -- the New York Times app is very similar to the iPhone version. There's an app for The Guardian, ESPN's ScoreCenter and CBS Sports. There is no Flipboard. There's Slacker, but no Pandora or iHeartRadio, no Fandango or Netflix. And so on. Name a category, and many of the major apps just aren't there. I didn't extensively test the BlackBerry Maps app, but it did bring me to a very precise and not-well-marked address in Chinatown in Los Angeles.

BlackBerry says that in the coming weeks we'll see apps from CNN, eBay, MLB at Bat, MTV News, Skype and The Daily Show Headlines, among others. Some of its 100,000 apps are Android app ports (a BlackBerry spokeswoman said that fewer than 20% are Android ports); BlackBerry has created a runtime for Android apps, and the company claims that 70% of Android apps are pretty much ready to run as is.

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2013 | 3:56:39 PM
re: BlackBerry Z10: My First Week
I'm reasonably sure BlackBerry will get the apps over time, even if it just means porting Android versions, which seems like it would be a simple enough solution for developers who aren't sure. ("Seems.") I agree with you that the financial-oriented apps are vital; it's funny how I've come to rely on them being on my smartphone over the past year alone, from depositing checks (using the phone camera) to checking account balances and transferring money to making payments at retailers with apps or PayPal.
User Rank: Author
3/28/2013 | 1:39:17 PM
re: BlackBerry Z10: My First Week
you cite really important examples of missing apps -- Bank of America and American Express. Pure app makers like Evernote might have enough incentive to quickly make a BlackBerry version, but we'll likely see hesitation from non-tech companies with apps -- Starbucks, Walgreens, BMW (Eric Zeman just posted an IW story on BMW's iPhone app). that's a tough challenge for BlackBerry, and a big factor for me personally as i'm also coming up on my contract renewal.
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