When BlackBerry emerged with its original Storm handset, waves were made. The phone looked different and indeed filled a gap in the market at that time. It had a full QWERTY keyboard and quickly claimed its place as the phone for “professionals”. The recent press conference held in New York to show off RIM’s latest effort – the BlackBerry Torch 9800 – raises some questions about where the company’s going.
The mobile phone market is constantly changing. BlackBerry originally earned itself a huge fan base of satisfied users, offering unique messaging and email services, but how long will users stay loyal to a product that simply lags behind the competition? The new Torch is indeed an improvement over previous BlackBerry models, but it just isn’t what we would expect from an industry leader.
A major form change with the phone is that it adopts the slider mechanism. At first glance, however, this can actually seem like a step backwards. After all, slider phones have been around for a long time already.
Besides the sliding mechanism, there are no other major style or design changes to the phone. Yes, there’s a piece of rubber finishing where there wasn’t any before; and yes, there is an added chrome border, but come on! The BlackBerry has always represented a more conservative approach to design in the mobile world, but that’s no excuse for being downright monotonous. The market is currently full of high-quality handsets that are both professional-looking and attractive at the same time.
After seeing that RIM isn’t going to wow us with a revolutionary approach to smartphone design, we turn to its long-awaited operating system – the OS 6. It seems that disappointment with the Torch is simply inevitable. The OS 6 looks like a good, solid, and practical piece of smartphone software, but again, a little flair, a little inspiration, or just something to make us go “neat!,” is missing.
If you’re a BlackBerry fan then you’ll probably think that the Torch is a great upgrade from previous models. The problem is that for open-minded consumers, there are so many other great smartphones on the market at the moment that RIM’s former advantages are slowly being equaled (and bettered) by the competition.