IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones

Alan Reiter, President, Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing | 8/25/2011 | 21 comments

Alan Reiter
Research in Motion (RIM) is beginning a global rollout this month of two updated BlackBerry cellular phones and one new model, all incorporating its new BlackBerry 7 operating system. Because of RIM's roadmap, IT departments will face some of the toughest decisions they've ever had about purchasing new BlackBerrys.

I've been testing one of the two updated versions, the Torch 9810, which is an updated BlackBerry Torch 9800. It has basically the same design, a 3.2-inch touch screen, and a slideout keyboard.

RIM also is launching the Bold 9900 and 9930, updated versions of the first Bold. The new Bold also uses basically the same design as the previous version, and it keeps the best physical keyboard RIM has ever produced. However, the new Bold's 2.8-inch screen is now touch-enabled, and the phone is thinner.

RIM's third phone is something of a variation of its Storm line, which features a 3.2-inch touch screen (no physical keyboard). The newest phone, which RIM is calling, confusingly, a Torch (9850 and 9860), sports a 3.7-inch touch screen, without a physical keyboard.

Although all the model numbers might be confusing, the specifications are basically the same. They include a 1.2GHz single-core microprocessor, a microSD card slot, a five-megapixel camera on the back, 720p video recording, 8GB of internal storage, 768MB of RAM, 802.11 a/b/g/n, GPS, an accelerometer, a compass, and an optical trackpad. There's no front camera, so forget about video calls.

From a hardware standpoint, the specifications would be good for 2009, but they can't compete with today's higher-end smartphones, especially Android. These Android handsets include such features as 1.2GHz dual-core processors, eight-megapixel back cameras, two-megapixel front cameras, 1080p recording, and screens that are four inches, 4.3 inches, or even 4.5 inches with resolutions of up to qHD (960x540). Viewing business forms and Web pages is a much better experience with larger, higher-resolution screens.

From an operating system standpoint, RIM originally considered naming the upgraded OS BlackBerry 6.1. But RIM's executives said the OS was so spectacular that it deserved its own whole number upgrade. BlackBerry 7 is definitely better, but I'd peg it at about version 6.3.

BlackBerry 7 looks the same as BlackBerry 6, so IT departments and employees shouldn't have any problems getting used to it. Some icons are slightly different, but not in any artsy way that screams, "This is classy."

That said, the new OS/hardware combo is noticeably faster for downloading Web pages. You won't see much of the (in)famous checkerboard pattern that appears on BlackBerry 6 devices when they sluggishly open pages. I've had a few problems with the Torch 9810 not correctly opening a handful of sites, but mostly it performs about at well as other smartphones.

In addition, the 9810 is smooth and responsive when scrolling and opening applications, although I'd still like some apps to open faster. Unfortunately, not all the apps I wanted were available, and it's a significant problem with BlackBerry 7. Although many existing apps will work in that OS, some will not and will require rewriting.

Some apps weren't available or supported when I tried downloading from RIM's App World online store or a company Website. Some apps worked when I used BlackBerry Desktop Software on my computer to transfer existing apps from a BlackBerry 6 device to the 9810. Enterprises might find apps that work well on BlackBerry 5 and 6 will have to be rewritten for 7.

But do enterprises want to do that? RIM will incorporate its new QNX operating system -- which is in its PlayBook tablet computer -- into phones in 2012. There's a rumor RIM is desperately working to release a QNX handset this year.

RIM's betting its future on QNX. For companies with limited resources that don't have to upgrade phones, perhaps it would be better to wait to evaluate a variety of QNX handsets next year, rather than investing in BlackBerry 7 hardware and software. One problem with waiting will be a scarcity of applications, because BlackBerry OS apps must be rewritten for QNX.

This is why IT departments will have make some of their toughest decisions ever about upgrading BlackBerrys.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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Alan Reiter   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   9/1/2011 12:10:23 PM
Re: What matters now ...
Hi SunitaT,

RIM has some serious problems with its Android Player strategy. For example, will Android applications perform as well on a BlackBerry (either the PlayBook or the phones) as they do on a dedicated Android device?

Also, all Android apps must be approved by RIM and downloaded from its App World. How easy will it be for Android apps to work an Android Player? Will developers have a lot of work to do or very little?

If developers need to do a lot of work to get their Android apps on the BlackBerry and QNX phones, it's likely they won't bother. And, will some Android apps, such as high performance games, just not work on the Android Player?

The future for RIM is QNX, not Android. If RIM doesn't get lots of great QNX apps for the PlayBook and its upcoming QNX phones, the company is doomed. So far, the PlayBook's number of QNX apps is pathetically small.
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SunitaT   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/31/2011 3:44:53 PM
Re: What matters now ...

What matters now are apps, Apps and APPS.


@nasimson , I agree with you that Apps play very crucial role these days. I think RIM  has realised this aspect and is planning to make its QNX software Android-compatible.
SunitaT   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/31/2011 3:38:39 PM
Re: What matters now ...
money in apps will continue to be made much more on iOS and Android devices.

@Alan,

 I agree with you that money in apps will continue to be made much more on iOS and Android devices and that is the reason BlackBerrys that run on RIM’s new QNX software will be made Android-compatible in near future. RIM has said it plans to introduce QNX phones in “early” 2012.
Alan Reiter   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 2:46:03 PM
Re: The device nobody wants
Hi JPoe,

I love most BlackBerry keyboards (especially the Bold, but not the Torch) and the reliability of RIM's push e-mail. Wireless e-mail is a phone's most important aspect for me (not voice), so that's why I'm a BlackBerry fan -- within limits.

But for just about everything else, I prefer iOS and Android phones. As a wireless data consultant and writer, I typically carry two or more devices -- a BlackBerry, an Android phone and a tablet that I'm testing.

There's no comparison between the iOS and Android operating systems and BlackBerry 7, which can't cut it any more for consumers. And there's no comparison with the better hardware specs of other phones (no front camera? no four-inch screen? no hotspot modem capability?.

When RIM decided to take on the consumer market, it took on a huge challenge. Only if QNX phones are a hit -- hardware, OS and applications -- will RIM prosper. We probably won't know much more about RIM's fate until the first or second quarter of 2012 when there are a variety of QNX phones and application.
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Alan Reiter   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 11:41:44 AM
Re: Upgrade, Stay Put, or Abandon Ship?
Hi SaneIT,

I assume lots of companies won't move to BlackBerry 7, especially because RIM has publicly disclosed its roadmap (although with not many details) that the future of its handsets -- at least its initial higher-end units -- will be QNX.

And with far fewer BlackBerry 7 apps than BlackBerry 5 or 6, and QNX months away (and who knows how well that will work on phones, at least initially), it makes sense for many enterprises to make do with BlackBerry 5/6 devices until QNX is ready for prime time.

Perhaps BlackBerry will be like Microsoft's Vista, where companies stuck with XP until Windows 7 appeared.
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Alan Reiter   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 11:35:56 AM
Re: What matters now ...
Hi nasimson,

RIM is going through a difficult transition with BlackBerry 7 as phones move to QNX, and neither QNX nor the hardware was ready for RIM to introduce QNX phones.

It's unfortunate that there are many fewer applications for BlackBerry 7 than 6 or 5, and it might remain that way if developers decide it doesn't make sense to develop for BlackBerry 7 because (1) RIM is transitioning to QNX and (2) RIM is losing market share, so (3) money in apps will continue to be made much more on iOS and Android devices.
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Alan Reiter   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 11:29:21 AM
Re: Upgrade, Stay Put, or Abandon Ship?
Hi DBK,

From a support company, RIM isn't going away in the foreseeable future. It continues to make a significant amount of money and many of its phones are selling well, even though its sales in some areas are shrinking.

One analyst even upgraded his decision on RIM from neutral to buy.

However, I stand by what I wrote that RIM's current products can't compete with the best smartphones from an applications and features standpoint. And its QNX phones are still a big question mark.
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JPoe   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 9:50:12 AM
Re: The device nobody wants
@Alan,

 

You are right: Of course BlackBerry devices have some advantages. The question is whether there are enough advantages. Great keyboard? Check. Fabulous email? Check.

But that's not enough. Again, there are some people--and it sounds like you are one of them--who will find the RIM solutions to be ideal for their particular needs. Over time, though, that collection of people grows smaller and smaller; soon, it will be irrelevant.

And that's where I see the BlackBerry headed. Most users want a 'modern' device, built around a modern OS platform.
SaneIT   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 8:28:48 AM
Re: Upgrade, Stay Put, or Abandon Ship?
@ Alan, I know one such company with a large Blackberry investment.  They aren't going to the new phones, they scooped up a bunch of old stock and refurbed phones to replace dying devices.  Their plan is to weather the storm until QNX phones appear because they don't want to make two jumps in a very short timeframe.
nasimson   IT Faces Tough Decisions on RIM BlackBerry 7 Phones   8/26/2011 3:59:34 AM
What matters now ...
It appears that RIM still hasnt understood that its not the touch, not the key board and not the battery life that matters anymore. All those are given, basic and by-default. These are not the game changers.

What matters now are apps, Apps and APPS. With below excerpts from your article, it appears RIM is bent on making a better hardware with a poor software experiece:

> Enterprises might find apps that work well on BlackBerry 5 and 6 will
> have to be rewritten for 7.

> One problem with waiting will be a scarcity of applications, because
> BlackBerry OS apps must be rewritten for QNX.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>


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