For the past few months, we’ve heard about the BlackBerry Windermere, or BlackBerry Passport, and aside from the fact that it has a QWERTY keyboard, it also has a square screen. Now, I do appreciate QWERTY keyboard, after all, I do think it is quite useful. But here is the problem, in the search for something that can save itself, BlackBerry has gone into a dark path, and takes innovation for “we don’t know what to do anymore.” Because here is the harsh, but truth fact: this concept will fall in time, and the square screen will boxed BlackBerry in forever.
Now, Why is that? Well, let’s start with the fact that there is a reason that our phones are getting more rectangular-ly. As we increased take advantage of the bar form factor and a rectangular screen, we’ve found the form factor to be incredibly useful. If you remember back in the day, not just smartphones, but cell phones had started to become more rectangular, why? Because we get more information that way, the contents are getting more spaces to show themselves. For almost a decade, not just smartphones, most of the electronic devices that have a display are in fact, in rectangular shape.
Ok, let’s go with BlackBerry for a second, thinks about reading and consuming content. Reading has now become digitized for readers, and the normal 9:16 (portrait) maximize the usage of the space we have to show the contents: words, website, pictures… Also, most movies shot at the 16:9 ratio, which allows better viewing angle, and because of this, 16:9 has become the norm for content creators. Now, what BlackBerry is trying to do is ignore that completely, insert a new ratio, that is pretty much equal to 1:1. And this screen might have some problem displaying existing content, especially media contents. So it has to crop it, or downsize it, and either way, you are missing out on stuff.
What about gaming? For quite awhile now, we have been taking advantage of the landscape mode to play and design games. Also, the fact that BlackBerry is focusing on just reading, consuming words content without thinking about the fact that the industry has changed, and we are not using our phone just to read email and read document anymore, we use it to play, to listen, to watch, and pretty much everything on our TV and laptop. With that being said, the company has shown us that this is targeted at largely businessmen, but the problem here is that even with businessman, they do plan to do more than just reading on their phone.
Lastly, the keyboard, now, I do not condemn them for doing this, but quite frankly, this is not the way to do it. With the Z10 and Z30, we have what I would say, the best keyboard that I have ever used since the day virtual keyboard was created. But instead of building on that, they went back to their old root. Now, why we don’t have a hardware QWERTY keyboard anymore? Because we don’t need it all the time, and the reason for virtual keyboard is so that when we don’t need it, we could just put it away, and this totally destroys the idea.
The bottom line is this, I do appreciate innovation, but innovation means stepping forward, not back. And BlackBerry was right, “it’s hip to be Square” but not everyone like the hippy that keep going backward.