BlackBerry has a huge problem on their hands when it comes to rolling out BlackBerry 10. The platform is less than 6 months old and it is already suffering fragmentation. BlackBerry still seems to be under the impression that carriers are their friends while BlackBerry’s true customers, the device owners, are getting shafted by the "friendly" carriers. Here are two examples:
- Take our poor friends on Verizon or even AT&T with their Z10’s running a version of BlackBerry 10 that DOES NOT support many of the most requested apps like Skype.
- Another large demographic of BlackBerry 10 owners purchased their BlackBerry 10 devices abroad and cannot get any OS updates on their devices. From what I hear those numbers are significant.
This sad state of affairs is in stark contrast to the PlayBook OS where BlackBerry managed to roll out OS updates to all devices at once. They even highlighted multiple times how a majority of PlayBook users are always running the latest OS. Now with BlackBerry 10 we have users suffering from frustrating bugs that were fixed on OS builds released months ago that are still not rolled out. The brave of heart have resorted to installing leaked BlackBerry 10 OS builds gratefully collected by the BlackBerry faithful trying to resolve a situation BlackBerry should never have allowed happen in the first place. In short BlackBerry is taking very little visible action to resolve this situation as their loyal (and not so loyal) customers have to resort to underground hacks to fix their products.
A few years back BlackBerry started blazing a trail into public beta programs with their BlackBerry Beta Zone. Sadly they have crippled it with oodles of red tape and convoluted workflow making me wonder if it was designed by the crack squad BlackBerry World team. Still they did start something back then by offering beta OS builds before carriers released them for a very very very small group of devices. I can probably count the number of times they did this on one hand and the OS builds were always extremely dated but it was a start. Sadly that whole effort seems to have sizzled and died.
That is why I am calling on BlackBerry to embrace instead of disenfranchising your true customers when it comes to the latest BlackBerry OS builds. Many of these hardcore users are anyways installing some of the latest OS beta builds on their devices and have great feedback to share. Instead of ignoring, fighting, or condemning the OS leaking community and users BlackBerry can actually offer a way for them to improve BlackBerry 10. This is not a novel concept anymore with Apple offering the same program to anyone with a developer account.
So if any of you reading this have friends at BlackBerry or work at BlackBerry make a point of telling them that this sad state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. BlackBerry users should be able to get the latest BlackBerry Beta OS (within reason) instead of being forced to languish on OS builds that are half a year old. BlackBerry has one of three choices to alleviate this problem:
- Push out OS updates to all devices on all carriers within a week or two
- Open up an open beta program where BlackBerrys ACTUAL customers (not carriers) can install the latest official beta build without waiting for their carrier (preferably OTA)
- Or simply continue to ignore their customers and allow carriers to cripple BlackBerry 10 devices with dated OS builds and OS fragmentation where users are forced to install leaked OS builds.
Hopefully they choose the first or even the second but the third is just shameful disregard and gross negligence on their part.
What do you think?