How much does a love of BlackBerry harm Windows Phone?

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Anyone watching the online coverage of smartphones over the last month can't have helped but notice something peculiar. There's a huge amount of love in the room for BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) and their 'comeback' smartphone the Z10. That love has given BlackBerry a fair amount of leeway over many issues in the handset (not least battery life and the unfocused UI elements), and I can't help wondering how Windows Phone's last two years would have been with the same love in the room.

I still think that part of this is the legacy of the first BlackBerry handsets with their messaging system being one of the first push email systems that worked out in the wild. The romance of that, even though almost every handset out there in 2013 has the same capacity, means that BlackBerry is looked on like a first love.

A first love that's had a new lick of paint and is ready to hit the retail road again. It's noticeable that many reviewers are giving the Z10 handset, the first running BlackBerry 10, a cautious thumbs up, but going on to say that they won't be switching away from their current handset.

The BlackBerry Z10

Let's be honest here, I think that Microsoft have burned quite a few bridges in the past, and they are a company that has made themselves hard to love. This might have been fine when they were ruling the roost with the desktop OS, but to be the scrappy underdog you need some love. Right now, BlackBerry is the new scrappy underdog, and given the choice, people are going to look back at the handsets that gave them push email, not the software house that gave them Windows Vista.

BlackBerry 10 has a number of issues, some of which are reminiscent of the early days of Windows Phone (or any random review of a new WP handset in the last month). The battery life is, frankly, not what you expect from a modern smartphone, struggling to make it to the end of the working day at 5pm without sipping some extra power; there is a paucity of apps (although the ability to compile Android apps is enough for it get a thumbs up from many commentators); and there's a lot of 'old fashioned' plastic styling.

And then there's the UI. It's another step away from the idea of a grid of applications that you use to launch an application, do stuff within the app, and then return to the grid. BlackBerry 10 relies heavily on swipes and gestures that start at the edge of the touch screen, yet there's a lack of consistency in the use of gestures and other elements in the UI (some apps have a 'back' key, while others do not).

 BlackBerry 10 in action BlackBerry 10 in action

I want to point these issues out not to put down the BlackBerry Z10, but to point out the differences in the reception that the BB10 OS has received when compared to Windows Phone. I honestly believe that WP7 was more polished and a better OS when it was released than BB10 is at the moment. I also believe that BB10 shows as much promise as WP7 did. The difference is that I don't think BB10 is going to have to fight for every single bit of positive press coverage in the way that Windows Phone is still having to do.

That means more resources are going to have to be used to keep the promotion of Windows Phone going. Where BlackBerry can coast along, safe in the knowledge that editors will keep it in the public eye, Microsoft need to work on keeping Windows Phone in the same space. And that means they are having to expend far more PR capital on the basics than BlackBerry, leaving less time and resources for other campaigns.

Microsoft and their partners knew they were in for a tough fight with Windows Phone. I wonder if they knew just how uneven the playing field was going to be?