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    February 27, 2013

    Opinion: BB10 vs Windows Phone 8

    A couple of years ago Windows Phone came back into the fray and, to be frank, the take up rate of the operating system has been pretty slow until recently. That being said, the market share has been on a steady, albeit slow, rise. On the other side of the spectrum is Blackberry, the company previously known as RIM. As recently as 2008 they were on top of the world, with the majority of market share. Since then, the sales of Blackberry have been on a steep decline, and we know it can be a slippery slope to recover from.

    Now, however, both these ecosystems have seen a reinvention and reimagining. With Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry 10 we have two very interesting ecosystems. Massive investment has gone into both and, for the short-term at least, they will be duking it out for, somewhat unceremoniously, third position in the smartphone race. Windows Phone will of course offer a broader range of hardware since it‘s a licensed product and has been in the market longer, but Blackberry has a very loyal following and the introduction of BB10 could very well be its saving grace.


    Some might ask why either would covet a third place? Well, I iterate, it might not be for the indefinite future, but definitely for the foreseeable future. For the next 2-3 years we can be certain that no one will overtake the juggernauts that are Apple and Google. iOS and Android and the battle between them (which is a different story altogether) will still reign supreme until something drastic changes or, some other product comes forth with a truly amazing new innovation. So that brings us back to BB10 and WP8. Which will win bronze?

    Interestingly, both ecosystems find themselves somewhere between the circus festival that is Android and the solemnness that is iOS in terms of their respective compromises between flexibility and integration. While iOS is solely focused on the cleanest, crispest user experience (even at the expense of user customization), Android is truly open source and invites all to hack away at it until something emerges that the specific user might like (which leads to fragmentation). While both approaches have their merits and problems, each seems to be working for the respective parties.

    That begs the question: Are Microsoft and Blackberry playing it safe by falling somewhere in between, and will it pay dividends? The simple answers to these questions is “œYes“. Both ecosystems stay true to their past and their customer base, as a steady increase in market share over the coming months and years will depict. At whose expense remains to be seen. Although the two ecosystems are similar in some ways, they are only very different in the ways the user engages with them and vice versa.


    The embodiment of the user experience in BB10 all comes down to the Blackberry Hub. It is a listing of all incoming messages, from any platform, app or social network. It plays homage to the earlier Blackberry devices which had a message list as the default user interface. The Hub encapsulates the newly renamed company‘s mission to still make the phone a communications device first and foremost.

    In contrast, Windows Phone also uses hubs in its interface, but it is used very differently. The defining UI feature is the Live Tiles, which acts primarily as an app launcher but has some notification capabilities as well. It will take you a bit longer to take in all information on the tiles to have an encompassing view of what is happening on the device, but Windows Phone emphasises contacts over content. The People Hub makes it easier to see the various activities and/or updates from different people and you can even pin people on the top, most visible level of the user interface.

    Herewith we see the biggest difference between the two operating systems. With Windows Phone, it‘s all about the messenger. With Blackberry, it‘s all about the message. In my mind, this will be the defining factor in who will stand “œvictorious“ on the lowest podium spot. How much, if any, of iOS and Android‘s market share will Microsoft and Blackberry win remains to be seen, and we will be following the story closely.

    But, since all the platforms can relay the same information to the user, preference in the way it relays this information will show whether consumers are willing to embark on a new journey, if removed from iOS or Android.

    If you are an Android or iOS user, to which of the two other platforms would you move to if you had to? Let us know in the comments below.

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    • PointBlankZA

      Windows 8 rocks, it’s solid, fluid and so far unbreakable from what I have thrown at it. Nokia Lumia 920 – outstanding phone.

    • WVN

      Definitely Windows! With window’s seamless interaction between all devices and Microsoft (in my opinion) being and staying king of laptops and PCs, I would definitely rather go the Windows phone route.

    • Snormossel

      Windows, hands down! The Lumia 920 is trully an underrated phone by consumers.

    • sipho khumalo

      definitely windows 8.. it rocks. i would have the samsung ativ s!!!

    • Windows 8 rocks big time, Lumia 920 at the throne!

    • PJM88

      Windows Phone 8 all the way! Getting a HTC 8X for my next upgrade.

    • Neither. Android all the way because of its customisability. The ugly solid blocks all over Windows 8 reminds me of the CGA display on my 1989 pc. Horrid and also a step back.

    • Definitely Blackberry 10 – Best mobile browser in the world, Blackberry Balance splitting and securing work and private data and work spaces, time shift camera, totally new user interface, Blackberry hub and flow, best touch screen keyboard that can be found on any mobile – what more can one ask for?

      • UnskinnyBob

        I’d ask for some of what you’ve been smoking.

    • VaughanLund

      One thing that Blackberry is banking on is the ecosystem. Due to the Windows Phone ecosystem being slow to grow (ie apps are not being added rapidly), the Blackberry 10 OS is Linux based with tools making it very easy to move Android apps onto the Blackberry OS.
      So very good chance the number of Blackberry apps will surpass Windows Phone apps in a few years.
      So at the end, Microsoft needs to clarify how you develop for their various platforms. Is .NET dead or alive OR do you need to think about spending a large amount in development and invest in C++ with WinRT which is very backward when compared to Apple’s Cocoa framework.

    • WP8 OS hasn’t yet matured. There’s plenty of bugs and missing functionality that should have been rectified/implemented prior to release. BlackBerry made one of the bravest decisions by a modern day tech company and that was holding back the release of their device to 2013. They waited to rectify all issues before hitting the market.

      The user experience on WP8 is disturbing and I wonder if they ran it past any UX experts. The Nokia Lumia 920 should not have been their flagship device, in fact they need to quickly erase that decision. The phone cannot compete with either high level Android devices or the iPhone 5. When the user needs to restart a phone to resolve an issue, you know there’s a problem.

      I have no doubt that MS are working on perfecting their own phone hardware like they did with the Surface. I’m by no means saying that the Surface is the defacto standard for tablets but by controlling the hardware, the OS becomes so much more powerful.

      Forget the hardware and the OS whats the distinguishing factor in the Ecosystem wars are the apps. BB10 wins that battle easily.

    • Prolific

      Two years from now, they will fight for fourth place behind Mozilla’s Firefox OS. Open system by a company that knows something about the user experience, apps, and online system security. Add to the fact that’s its free (like Android), which will entice most manufacturers to launch at least some flavour of it. Watch this space. BTW Alcatel is launching the first Firefox phone shortly, and they are aiming at the sub-$200 market, which doesn’t even put it in the direct firing line of Android or iOS.

      • Theunis Jansen van Rensburg

        I tend to disagree with you on this point, because Firefox OS will exclusively be used on lower end devices. There are no plans for it to ship on flagship or mid-level devices within the next two years. There’s too much competition for Firefox in the lower end smartphone market with WP8 and Android.

        • Prolific

          Theunis, I wasn’t disagreeing with your article/opinion, just giving a third option for future reference.

          True, Firefox isn’t aimed at high-end users, hence the price point. But a “low-end smartphone” is still a smartphone, and the market has been lacking a cheaper, quality implementation. Market-wise, I reckon Firefox would be able to ship the numbers needed to out-sell WP8 and BB10, but obviously not without start-up and teething issues. So two years is fair. Don’t get me wrong – I’m currently on BB10 (which is great, even sans BIS) and have experienced the WP8 environment as well (solid, and clearly aimed at creating a MS environment similar to Apple’s). It’s just that going nose to nose with the Google and Apple juggernauts may end up in yours being bloodied, so coming in at a different angle may mean larger-than-expected growth. Don’t underestimate Mozilla – they are a fraction of MS/BB, and still deliver competetive products.

          Of course, I could be totally misguided and it could be stillborn 🙂

          Even Samsung are rethinking their proprietary OS, changing flavour from Bada to Tizen, if I recall correctly.

          From a consumer standpoint, any competition is a good thing.

          • rob

            I suspect cost differentiator is the efficiency of the OS. More efficiency means a lower power processor and smaller battery, and less of other materials. This is where android is weak.

      • Bold.

    • Gerhard

      Love my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Mobile 8 phone. It might be a bit of a “heavy” phone, but the build quality and wireless charging makes up for that. Customizable Live Tiles really make the phone and I have set it up so that my home screen shows me everything i need to know in a glance. The latest Windows Mobile 8 updates that I installed will more than likely make it even faster/smoother and more stable. And what was my previous phone…? BB Bold 9700

    • Johannes Cronje

      “to still make the phone a communications device first and foremost” This says it all as far as I am concerned. Just got rid of a Android device which was useless as a phone.

    • callmesometime

      Anybody who rates Windows 8 phones has clearly never used an Android device.

      • Paul

        I’ve moved from Android (many years) to Windows Phone 8 (Lumia 920) – it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

    • JacquesZA

      Been ios user since the 3g and will be switching to the Z10. Loved by ios devices but it just got bland. I played with the Win 8 and liked it, android i didnt like, but bb10 i love.