“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” said Steve Jobs to BusinessWeek in 1998.
It was the year after Jobs returned to Apple and nine years before the release of the original iPhone, one of the many devices that turned Apple into one of the biggest cash cows in the world.
Before Apple released its smartphone juggernaut, BlackBerry was sitting pretty. It was 2006 and the company introduced the world to the Pearl. The Pearl was one of the smarter smartphones of its time, with the power to handle complex applications, a trackball and the SureType keyboard. It packed a lot of punch in a streamlined little phone with a battery that could last roughly a week.
BlackBerry, then known as Research in Motion, had a lot going for it but touchscreen technology was the wave of the future. With the release of the iPhone, the HTC Touch and the slew of copycat phones, even the majority of hardcore CrackBerry addicts found themselves cured of their addiction.
These companies showed people what they wanted before they knew what they wanted. BlackBerry, meanwhile, seemed to be stuck in its ways and focused on the business sector.
The BlackBerry Classic, released this past December, attempts to show users what they want and, as the name suggests, it is a renaissance of sorts.
The Classic pays homage to old school keyboard and trackpad-based smartphones mixed with modern touchscreen technology. It offers a great deal of features to its users. The phone comes preloaded with lots of popular apps, such as Facebook and Twitter. Its Hub provides the ability to easily access and prioritize notifications. The battery life is impressive — lasting up to four days with light usage during my tests — and it benefits from Battery Saving Mode. Many of the apps also offer menus that can be swiped in from the edges for additional functionality and to compensate for the lack of screen space. BlackBerry Messenger, now available on iOS and Android devices, opens up the possibility of easily and freely communicating with anyone on any device. This functionality is extended by the BlackBerry Blend app, which is available for desktop usage.
One key feature that may entice disappointed users from other platforms is that the phone can run Android apps and it comes preloaded with the Amazon Appstore.
The phone’s biggest drawback is the feature of which it is most proud: its keyboard. There is no compelling use for its existence. To users of other platforms, the keys are not intuitive. It eats up a lot of space on the phone, leaving the screen roughly the size of the remainder of the iPhone 6 screen when Reachability is activated.
To remaining CrackBerry addicts, the phone will likely be a welcome addition to the BB family. However, to those deeply embedded in the Apple, Android or Microsoft ecosystems, there likely will not be much of a reason to switch platforms.