Where does BlackBerry 10 go from here?

The Z10 represents a shift in BlackBerry's way of thinking. Gone are the clunky ways of BlackBerry 7 and in comes BlackBerry 10, a properly modern smartphone OS which can, at least on paper, compete with the likes of iOS and Android.

So what now? What does BlackBerry have planned to turn its fate around? And could BlackBerry 10 turn out to be the company's saving grace?

Applications

BlackBerry knows that its new operating system would be dead in the water without apps. Windows Phone, even two years into its life, continues to be plagued by its application shortfalls. Handset reviews often raise the issue and even Nokia's laudable efforts with the Lumia 920 leave a lot of gaps in the OS.

To combat this, BlackBerry has gone full steam ahead with app promotion. The company launched a $10,000 developer commitment scheme, where it would make up the difference in revenue up to $10k for apps that made more than $1,000 in BlackBerry World. 

The BlackBerry Jam developer conference in Amsterdam also saw a special limited-edition red version of the Z10 phone being announced, which will be sent to developers who register their apps before 28 February.

The result has been more than 75,000 apps prepped for the platform's launch. With Instagram promised, focus now shifts to bringing the rest of the big boys on board. Spotify and chums spring to mind.

Read: Hands-on: BlackBerry Z10 review

Android Jelly Bean support planned for the OS's Android runtime should also help bolster things. What will really bring excitement to the OS, however, are new and exciting applications. After all, a lot of the fun with apps on iOS and Android is discovering those indie gems.

BlackBerry is keen to demonstrate just what the Z10 and the new OS could do. A demo of Autumn Dynasty - a top of the line RTS game for iOS - was shown at BlackBerry Jam running on BlackBerry 10.

We had a chat with Travis Ho of Touch Dimensions, the developer behind Autumn Dynasty, to get an idea of what BlackBerry is expecting of its developers. 

According to him, BlackBerry 10 is just as easy to develop for as iOS. Porting apps doesn't take long either, and can be done in as little as a week. 

Also on board with BlackBerry 10 is a mobile development platform called Unity. Without geeking-out too much, Unity is responsible for apps on other platforms such as Angry Birds and Shadowgun. Crucially however, in supporting BlackBerry 10, it allows you to translate apps across to the OS almost instantly and with minimal bugs.

So things are shaping up rather nicely for BlackBerry in the app space. What it has to prove now is that its OS has the ever-expanding diversity of the App Store and Google Play: plug the core app-gaps the OS has now and then fill BlackBerry World with unique and exciting content that keeps people coming back to the phone.

Hardware

The Z10 is gradually starting to roll out across the world now and is available in the UK, with a March shipping date planned for the US.

Early impressions point to the touchscreen handset as being quite a tempting piece of kit, albeit with battery life being an issue. It certainly looks good and if reports from analysts are anything to go by, is selling well in stores.

Next comes the Q10, BlackBerry's Qwerty keyboard handset which will satisfy the needs of the typing-intensive smartphone user, at least in theory. This phone is slated for April release, after this month's MWC, when a lot of the light will likely be shining away from BlackBerry and focused elsewhere.

Read: White BlackBerry Z10 pictures and hands-on

This is only the start, with BlackBerry promising another four handsets to be launched in 2013, some of which should be closer to the price point of its still-successful 9320 Curve handset.

We spoke with Rob Orr,  BlackBerry's managing director of UK and Ireland, who explained: "Over the course of time we will bring BlackBerry 10 to all the segments of the market, but it will take time."

This translates into cheaper BlackBerry 10 devices being inbound. However, we can't know yet whether these phones will arrive in 2013 or later. At the time of writing, the Curve 9320 is the manufacturer's best-selling handset, at a cost of around £130, SIM free. The Z10 is £430. 

So price is going to drop and more BlackBerry 10 devices are coming, which should in turn translate to better market saturation and hopefully more apps for the platform. 

Software

The BlackBerry 10 operating system does things differently. The OS runs around the concept of gestures and the BlackBerry Hub - a sort of one-stop shop for all your email and social media.

If you fancy reading more about the operating system, then we have an in-depth guide to it on Pocket-lint. It isn't without its faults, however, and is clearly still an operating system in its infancy. 

BlackBerry's head of software portfolio, Vivek Bhardwaj, spoke to Pocket-lint at the BlackBerry Jam developer conference. The first thing we did was quiz him about the battery issues on the Z10 and if they could be fixed via a software update.

"We are trying to be as competitive as we can on the battery. I think we are pretty good. Are we the best out there? I'm not sure," he told us.

"Software updates can only do so much. Our focus when we push out updates is to address market issues or enhance features."

So battery life clearly isn't top of the agenda, although the Q10 should have a bigger battery and therefore last longer.

The key to what Bhardwaj is saying is in the "enhance features" line. Windows Phone 8 launched with the ability to run only on newer hardware, any current Windows Phone devices on the market were not updatable and as such missed out on some of the latest features.

BlackBerry is going to need to continue to support BlackBerry 10 across all its devices, in order to make sure it remains a compelling experience on every platform. From the sound of it, the company is committed to doing just that.

Conclusion

BlackBerry has got the majority of boxes ticked and is primed and ready to knock Windows Phone off its third place (to Android and iOS). Cheaper phones, new features and a continued drive to bring as many apps as possible bodes well for BlackBerry 10's future. As long as it retains the current attention it's getting now.