BlackBerry CEO suggests BB10 OS isn't exactly intuitive

BlackBerry's best days, sadly, seem to be far behind it. Last quarter, the company reported a $4.4bn loss, on the back of sales of just 1.1m of its new-generation BlackBerry 10 devices. 

The new era that BlackBerry 10 was supposed to usher in for the company hasn't exactly turned out as planned. BlackBerry announced at this week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) that it will introduce a new handset, the Q20, which will restore features that its customers cherished in earlier BlackBerry devices, such as call-start and -end keys, as well as a trackpad. 


The Z30, a BlackBerry 10 device

It seems that BlackBerry is bowing to the dissatisfaction of its core user base over its BB10 OS, and while the company does not appear to be planning a full U-turn - full-touch devices will continue to be offered - the concessions it is making to its most loyal but diminishing users are certainly noteworthy. 

Speaking at MWC, BlackBerry's CEO John Chen admitted to TechRadar that BB10 hadn't performed as well as expected. He spoke openly about the fact that the return of the trackpad and call buttons in the Q20 are a move to satisfy those who disapproved of their removal in other recent models, but he also added some interesting observations on why BB10 hasn't been a hit. 

"It took me a while to get used to BlackBerry 10," Chen said, "but once I got used to it, I loved it." As if to underline the fact that he had implicitly admitted that BlackBerry 10 has issues with intuitiveness and ease of use, Chen continued: "The key is it took me a while to get used to it. For most consumers, if they get to our new phone and it's not intuitively obvious, they get a little shy and they don't want to continue using it." 

Adding to this, Chen apparently held the belief that it was not for the company to improve BlackBerry 10 and make it more intuitive, but rather to "educate" users about how to use the OS: "I think that's the number one thing BlackBerry did. We did not do enough to educate the market about the interface."

Source: TechRadar | image via BlackBerry

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I had a chance to play around with a BB10 device a couple of months ago and my first experience was frustrating. I don't know if there's a guide that shows you the features of the OS when you first power it up and if there is, then that would help a lot. I found it confusing to use the OS at first but I can see myself getting used to it.

As for buying a BB device, I'm not interested at all. The Nexus 5 meets my needs at the moment. I can't justify paying more than $399 CAD for a device with inferior specs.

Many of the early commercials for iOS and Windows 8 devices were essentially short demos of how to operate the system. There was little marketing for BB10 and those simply talked about features without indicating how easy it (supposedly) is to get to them. Apple and MS got the ads right which is why users have a easier time getting around. No OS is entirely intuitive. iOS and Windows have their gaping flaws. But after I see a commercial that not only shows me a feature but how to use it, I will be better off.

Yes, let's hope for less competition. What will you benefit from the demise of BlackBerry? The more competition, the better. I'm a big fan of Android and I don't like BB10 but I'd prefer it if they were successful. That would put pressure on Google and Apple to innovate.

Since getting my new BB device I have been very pleased. I don't find the device unintuitive to use at all. I think they did a nice job with it. And the 10.2 update only made things better. I would certainly use this over any Android/iOS device any day of the week.

I tried one out for a good length of time while waiting to be seen at an ATT company. There was a kiosk of idevices, tons of android phones and tablets throughout the store, and even a surprisingly large amount of Windows phones and tablets on display as well.

In the entire store there was only one blackberry device on display- the z30. Terrible, terrible experience. Very unintuitive as well. Between trying out an iPhone, a few different Android devices, and the blackberry, the blackberry was the least intuitive and the hardest to jump into. Way too much reliance on gestures, especially when operating with one hand. The UI wasn't too much appealing either. Overall the experience felt like using a clunky and badly designed android skin.

I don't think the key is to educate users. An OS should be intuitive enough to start using right away.

My first impressions with the phone were very similiar to Windows 8 and once I was turned off it was hard to go back. The Z10 is my work phone so I'm forced to use it. Other than using email, checking text messages, and making the occassional phonecall, I haven't done much with it.

For those who haven't used BB10 - lots of gestures (similiar to Win8 with a touchscreen), no homescreen - all you get is an application menu, no hard/soft buttons (home, back, menu), little consistency throughout the interface. What's good are the home and work profiles for those connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. But it can be confusing. I've had several people accidentally switch profiles and think their work email disappeared.

gadean said,
I don't think the key is to educate users. An OS should be intuitive enough to start using right away.

My first impressions with the phone were very similiar to Windows 8 and once I was turned off it was hard to go back. The Z10 is my work phone so I'm forced to use it. Other than using email, checking text messages, and making the occassional phonecall, I haven't done much with it.

For those who haven't used BB10 - lots of gestures (similiar to Win8 with a touchscreen), no homescreen - all you get is an application menu, no hard/soft buttons (home, back, menu), little consistency throughout the interface. What's good are the home and work profiles for those connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. But it can be confusing. I've had several people accidentally switch profiles and think their work email disappeared.

I would agree that the phone takes some getting used to (my wife has one) but once you get used to it I think it is one of the better phone os's out there. I think part of the key is education - a lot of people don't realize that BlackBerry 10 is designed for one-handed use. The predictive typing is great and there are a lot of little things built into the OS that make things a lot more efficient. Personally I am tried of the Android and Iphone os models. Next phone for me will either be BlackBerry or Windows phone.

I have said it for years, BlackBerry 10 never should have been created as it stands. They could have easily forked Android and based the next OS on it. Just because only one OEM is making money from it now does not mean that others can not. BlackBerry had its dominance with the BES server and its ease of use email and security. All of that they could have ported to Android with ease (BBOS >9 is java based after all) but with the time/money they wasted on the failure that is BBOS 10 they will most likely never be able to recover.

Yes, BB could have stayed in the game if years ago they simply ported all of their business apps (which at the time where unquestionably best of bread) to an exclusive Blackberry Android build. It would not have taken them the years it took them to come out with BB10, they would have direct support for Google Play apps and they would have been able to hang onto their relevance. Anything they do now is going to be too little too late. It really doesn't matter how good their product is, most people have zero interest in trying it.

yep, i agree. you gotta do some strange things with your thumb when using bb10... takes some getting used to.

trek said,
yep, i agree. you gotta do some strange things with your thumb when using bb10... takes some getting used to.

with the addition of the "belt" between the keys and the screen, the OS should be much easier to operate..