Research in Motion (RIM) finally renamed itself “BlackBerry” after its signature product, even as it launched its much-awaited iPhone/Android competitor: the BlackBerry 10 operating system, touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 and keyboard-equipped BlackBerry Q10. The launchhas been described as a Hail Mary pass for the struggling company, a last chance for a comeback that the company hopes could put it back in the running against Apple and Google in the smartphone race. The devices are heading to the UK first.
BlackBerry’s offerings were once the devices of choice for doctors, but the company’s popularityhas been in decline for the last few years, with Apple’s iPhone and iPad products largely supplanting it. As recently as April 2012, RIM was making a bid to get those physician customers back on board with BlackBerry Bold.
According to Manhattan Research, BlackBerry and Apple were neck and neck among physicians in 2010, with Apple taking 22 percent of physicians, BlackBerry taking 20 percent, and Android taking only 4 percent. In 2011, the percentage of physicians using Apple products doubled, while the BlackBerry numbers went down 2 percent. The next year, only 10 percent of doctors were using BlackBerry devices, even lower than 2009 levels, while apple had skyrocketed to 57 percent — more than half of all the physicians in the country.
So if BlackBerry wants to make a comeback with physicians, it has a long way to go. However, several of the features announced for the new device suggest it could reel some of those doctors — not to mention hospital CIOs — back in.
BlackBerry has always pointed to its physical keyboard as a perk that touchscreen only devices couldn’t touch, and the new release does include a QWERTY keyboard model. But it also contains an improvement to the virtual keyboard, with opt-in rather than opt-out predictive text, which received accolades from the New York Times’ David Pogue.Touchscreen keyboards are a sticking point for clinical data entry, which needs to be fast and accurate, as MobiHealthNews has reported in the past.