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The age of the keyboard is over

While BlackBerry has been making some phones without keyboards ever since 2008, it has long held true that the majority of BlackBerrys sold have had a physical keyboard. However now that BlackBerry has moved on to their new QNX based operating system that is no longer a given. Even now that the Q10 is widely available, the vast majority of BlackBerry 10 users do not have a physical keyboard on their device.

When looking at app downloads the BlackBerry Z10 has outperformed the Q10 for month after month, and June was no different. This has been true both across games, as well as in more standard utility apps. For example look at app downloads in the Productivity-Organization category where I happen to have access to stats from some of the top ranked apps. If anything you would think that a category with a ‘get things done’ approach like this one would show an oversampling of keyboard users. In fact they are by far in the minority.


The top ranked third-party app in the category is the Stuff I Need checklist app that saw 83.5% of downloads in June to users without a physical keyboard (see the pie chart above). The next most popular app is Corky Notes which saw 75% of its downloads on the Z10 over the same month (see the pie chart below). Downloads of both apps skewing heavily away from the physical keyboard phones.


While BlackBerry 10 does continue to offer more devices with a full keyboard than iOS or Android, having one has become the exception, not the rule. On BlackBerry 10 it is time to stop thinking first about keyboards, and remember that most users on the platform are touchscreen only.

33 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. What would be interesting to know (and probably only BlackBerry itself could tell us) is how many Apps for Device Z10 users download versus Q10.

    I would bet that Z10 users download 3-5x as many apps than Q10 users, which leads to the Z10 appearing so much higher in app download records stats.

  2. At the end of the day its all compatibility issues. Most of the apps that work on the Z10 don’t really work on the Q10. Some weren’t callibrated to do so, and blackberry world is already ‘short’ in apps (honestly every necessity is present but there’s no such thing as too many).

    • The stats shown here are from apps that fully support both devices. Yet the Z10 is still many times more popular.

      • Yes but the Z10 was released first, so the app download stats would be higher for the Z10, I think we must give it some time and see what happens to the Q10 and Q5… 🙂

        • All stats are from the month of June during which time the Q10 has been available for some time. I don’t think things will change that much over the next few months…

          • I think what he is saying is that since the Z10 has been available longer therefore there is a greater amount of Z10 owners. This makes this argument irrelevant as the Q10 had a late start.

            • My argument is simply that “there is a greater amount of Z10 owners”.

              You may feel that this will change (and it might), but I wouldn’t bet on it…

            • Exactly! It,s like saying the q10 is doing much better in sales than the Q5 but the Q5 is not even properly launched yet!

  3. Q10 release is still in it,s early stages, you can,t compare it to the Z10…. Give it some time…. Yo…

  4. I am not so sure I would jump to the same conclusion. People that are attracted to Keyboard phones likely don’t give a hoot about apps. I have a client that has a Q10 that I set up for him. He would not even consider the Z10 yet he was keen to switch to BB10. He waited for the Q10 and two months later, he loves it, but the only third-party app on it was for accessing SharePoint which I put on for him. I think he is a very typical user too. Apps are fads, I have a Z10 and the novelty of pretty much every app has worn off. I use my phone a lot, but there are only a few apps outside the core that I care about. I have an iPad too and Chrome is my favourite app.

    • There are plenty of people who don’t know how to properly use their phones, but assuming that there are a higher percentage of people like this that use the Q10 than any other phone seems very unlikely. In fact the early adopters who rush out to buy phones within the first few months of launch are more likely to be big app users, so I would in fact argue that (in the short term at least) the opposite is far more likely to be true…

  5. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the Q10 has been a sales disaster for Blackberry. It was supposed to be the savior.

    However my brother and sister both use curves and they are waiting for the Q5. So you need to include all those sales before you can say the era is over.

  6. I ordered my Q10 as soon as I got back from a business trip after its release (maybe a few days after) on AT&T and I’ve had it for 9 days – one of those days was in June. 🙂 Hardly a fair comparison in this article. Personally the Q10 is my favorite phone and I’m coming from a Nexus 4 and a GS3 before that. If I want to play games or watch videos I’ll use my tablet, but for work the Q10 can’t be beat IMHO.

  7. Yeah, really the Q10 is too new to judge, there’s really little we can say about it. And yeah most people who use blackberries aren’t really in it for the apps. That’s true of myself too. I guess only time will tell.

  8. Our download and sales numbers don’t confirm that at all.

    I am not sure how these download numbers where gathered, but I assume they were simply taken from the vendor portal.

    The vendor portal downloads count re-downloads like a reinstall and especially updates. So if you have issued at least one update in June a huge part of your existing Z10 user base was counted multiple times.

    Henrik – Bellshare

    This will skew the numbers heavily toward the device that has been longest in the market.

    • Thanks!
      This gives me hope that the Q10 is actually selling OK.

    • By limiting the stats to those collected over a short time frame like this you ensure that you are not double counting any users.

      But even if every Z10 user was counted twice, there would still be 2.5 users without a keyboard for every user with one…

      • I have seen that one of the apps at least had an update beginning of June. Consider the download ratio is 1:1, you have 200 unique downloads per day, 100 for Z10 and 100 for Q10.

        You would have 6000 Z10 users by beginning of June (Apr+May).

        Now you do the update, and lets say 50% of your existing user base download it. This is an additional 3000 downloads for the Z10.

        So you get 6000 Z10 downloads and 3000 Q10 downloads for June, a ratio of 60/30, even though the unique download stat is 50/50.

        Now add into it that the Q10 wasn’t available on the major carriers in the USA during the first two weeks of June and you skew the numbers even more to the Z10.

        Maybe you can post another set of download stats. Something recent (after June 15th) in an interval where you didn’t do any updates.

        I checked our sales numbers which aren’t affected by re-downloads and for June 15th – Jul 7th we see roughly 50/50.

        • I would argue that including downloads from updates makes the stats better by not excluding users who are still a very active part of the market despite existing for over one month.

          Still, a month from now I will publish the split of devices for July, showing the breakdown of users for the Stuff I Need app. For Corky Notes check to see if Gyubok posts anything. I don’t expect the numbers to change too much…

  9. I have 2 apps for both Z10 and Q10.

    In July, 42% of the sales come from Q10 vs 58% from Z10.

  10. Actually, you neglected to consider the fact that the Q10 was released much later and has quite the learning curve. Also, the power of the OS10 keyboard has yet to be unleashed with the activation of shortcuts. Your stats are of interest but your conclusion is entirely premature.

  11. Completely agree this sort of analysis is FAR too premature. If both Q10 and Z10 had launched together this would be a fair analysis. To be honest this looks more like the kind of “analysis” we see at BGR than here at BerryReview…

  12. There are just too many variables to consider. I’ll try to list them all.

    1. Z10 have been sold for more than double that than Q10
    2. Z10 have been sold in more countries than Q10
    3. Z10 hype was exponentially larger than Q10 since it was the first BlackBerry 10 device
    4. Q10 have significantly less apps than Z10, so the fewer apps available for Q10 have more focused download than Z10
    5. Q10 users can be assumed to be more productivity driven so these apps will be more appealing to Q10 users.
    6. Most apps are optimized for Z10 screen so Z10 users are more likely to keep the above mentioned apps and receive updates, which will double, triple, or even quadruple the download count per user.

    Given those factors above, no, I don’t think “The age of the keyboard is over”. We just don’t know for sure yet. I’ll public numbers for the same app for the month of July so we can see if the Z10 ratio decrease or stay the same (or even increase). Decreasing Z10 ratio will indicate that age of keyboard is not yet over.

    I’m betting for increase in Q10 numbers. Any takers?

  13. Admission: I own a Q10 and love it

    I will bet that those with Q10s buy it to be primarily a business or personal productivity tool. That means very few and targeted apps. Email/messaging, calendar, and document reading is primarily the purpose.

    Those that buy a phablet, or Z10 like devices are more likely treating it like a toy for all sorts of things. It replaces the tablet, and it replaces the laptop. These people, browse the web, read books, watch movies on their phone.

    My Q10 is my link to the world for connectivity and messaging. That’s it. I have an eReader for reading (far superior to a phone), a tablet for portable browsing, a GPS for my car, and I have a real computer with a real keyboard for any serious productivity or gaming. The reality is though, that most people want an all-in-one device (and are willing to concede a lot to get one) and they need a lot of apps.

  14. A month later and the statistics largely look the same.

    Physical keyboards are still not too popular…

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