You know that BlackBerry’s handset business is in big trouble when even longtime CrackBerry contributors are talking about why they’ve abandoned ship for other smartphones. And yet that’s exactly what frequent CrackBerry writer Chris Umiastowski has done with a new post informing the BlackBerry faithful that he switched over to Android a while ago… and he doesn’t see himself switching back unless BlackBerry makes some important changes.
“I realize I’m in dangerous territory on CrackBerry when I say this, but unless certain things change it is very unlikely that I’ll switch back to BlackBerry,” Umiastowski confesses. “I truly wish this was not the case. I say this because overall I think BlackBerry makes a better device and a better OS. I wish a few things would change to tip the scale back in their favor. But as it stands the major factor keeping me away from BlackBerry is app availability.”
In particular, Umiastowski says that he absolutely needs to have access to the full suite of Google’s biggest apps such as Google Now, Gmail, Google Maps and Calendar. In fact, Umiastowski says that he loves these apps so much that he’s willing to tolerate what he considers to be an inferior overall user experience with Android just to be able to use them. This means that to win him back, BlackBerry will need to figure out a way to make Google’s apps an integral part of its platform.
“I have to wonder what it would take for BlackBerry to just sign a deal with Google to have access to the Play store and all of the awesome Google apps inside it,” he explains. “I can’t imagine that BlackBerry would actually need to run the Android OS instead of their QNX-based OS. Samsung and others skin the UI anyway, so why would it really matter if the OS was actually Android or just capable of running Android apps?”
At this point we’d be remiss if we didn’t recall that infamous moment back in late 2010 when then RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie dismissed the importance of having a strong mobile app ecosystem and said that the web browser is really the only application that any smartphone owner should need. While there have been many reasons for BlackBerry’s downfall, the dismissal of mobile apps’ importance has always struck us as a particularly glaring one.