BlackBerry CEO admits he was challenged by BB10's learning curve
At BlackBerry's MWC 2014 press briefing, CEO John Chen opened up about his own user impressions from BB 10. It turns out Mr. Chen got to experience the platform's fairly steep learning curve for himself. "It took me a while to get used to BlackBerry 10," he admitted, "but once I got used to it, I loved it." Although this is a common sentiment among BlackBerry users, it might have contributed to the Canadian company's downward slide. In the words of John Chen, "we did not do enough to educate the market about the interface" following BB10's launch.
The CEO spotted particular symptoms in consumer behavior. "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." - he explained. That's one of the major reasons why Android manufacturers customize the stock user interface, for example. Although the original Google UI is pretty simple to get around, it needs a lot of “make-up” to not intimidate the wider public in much the same way.
Mr. Chen also spoke a bit about the BB Q10, whose successor, the Q20, was unveiled at the conference together with the touch-screen BB Z3. Apparently, the keyboard-wielding Q20, which brings back the track-pad as well as navigation side-keys, is an example of fan-service. "Virtually everyone we speak to loves our keyboard, so we gave them the Q10," Chen told attendees, "but people didn't love it as much as we thought through, as they missed the track-pad and hard navigation keys 'belt' above the keyboard that was on the old Bold and Curve ranges."
Indeed, the Q20 is classic productive BlackBerry in design, and it has biggest screen on a QWERTY 'Berry, at 3.5-inches by diagonal. With the recently-added ease in side-loading Android apps to aid it, perhaps it could regain a bit of interest from those outside the core BB audience.