Earlier today, RIM introduced the BlackBerry Torch, the company’s first smartphone to ship with BlackBerry OS 6 and perhaps more importantly RIM’s attempt to remind the world that it’s still a big player in the smartphone market.
We think it’s interesting that RIM chose to name its newest BlackBerry the “Torch” because what the BlackBerry brand has really been lacking over the last few years is heat. That is, while the iPhone and Android (Android) devices have generated tons of buzz and taken turns at being the hottest tech item of the moment, the BlackBerry has remained relatively cold. It’s clear that RIM recognizes that the BlackBerry brand doesn’t have the cachet and appeal that it once did and its betting that its new OS and slate of new devices will help turn things around.
There’s a lot to like about BlackBerry OS 6.0 and the BlackBerry Torch in general. The new form factor stays consistent with what BlackBerry users already know, but offers a full touch screen with a slide out keyboard. We think that taking design cues from the Palm Pre is a good thing because the rest of the smartphone world has embraced touch with a vengeance and the SureType keyboards on the BlackBerry Storm simply didn’t cut it. [Más…]
However, aside from physical features, we can’t help but be a little disappointed with the actual specs of the phone. Yes, it has a 5 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi support for 802.11n and more memory than previous devices, but the processor is still slow in comparison to the competition and the screen size and resolution seem downright trite by 2010 standards. Still, the BlackBerry has never been about being the flashiest, fastest, latest or greatest device. Ultimately, if the device and OS can remain snappy for users, the specs don’t matter.
Enough to Stop the Bleeding
Over the last few years, I’ve watched my group of friends slowly but surely transition from being BlackBerry obsessed to card-carrying iPhone or Android users. I went through the same transition myself, finally switching to an iPhone (iPhone) last year after nearly 5 years with the BlackBerry.
Why are users jumping ship? Because frankly, the BlackBerry hasn’t kept up. The e-mail and text experience might still be the best in the business, but more and more mobile usage is taking place in the browser, not the inbox. Fortunately, BlackBerry OS 6 includes a new WebKit-based web browser, a much-needed improvement.
Charles Golvin, a mobile analyst for Forrester Research, commented on the new device, “the Torch and OS6 put Research In Motion on firm competitive ground against Apple’s iPhone and the Android devices, with a touch screen plus the BlackBerry keyboard.”
In other words, this is a step in the right direction to keep current BlackBerry fans sated. However, existing users is only one part of the equation. While we doubt that even RIM actually believes that the latest OS is enough to win over Android or iPhone users, there is another arguably more important audience to tap: Non-smartphone users.
There are still millions upon millions of non-smartphone users and these users should be the ones that RIM targets. The biggest draw to a platform for consumers — aside from carrier — is largely becoming all about the number of available applications.