azOn Tuesday, Research in Motion (RIM) has officially launched its first ever smartphone “BlackBerry Torch”. As expected, the company has presented the new smartphone as an answer to Apple’s iPhone and Samsumg’s GalaxyS, lunched just few weeks back. The BlackBerry Torch is loaded with OS 6.0, RIM’s new mobile platform, which competes with Google’s Android.
The new BlackBerry OS has been widely anticipated as the North American smartphone leader tries to catch up with the innovations that Apple and Google have brought to the smartphone market in the past three years.
New BlackBerry OS 6.0 looks and feels lot more like an iPhone & the Android based touch smartphones but the first BlackBerry 6 device features a slide-down version of the traditional BlackBerry keyboard, somewhat like a Palm Pre. Here are some more details on the new device and the OS upgrade.
There’s quite a lot to talk about in the new BlackBerry . Its latest OS 6.0 has numerous advanced features which can lights up the “Torch”, it’s codename. Besides incorporating a traditional Blackberry design, the touch screen with sliding keypad makes its much more user-friendly. Sleek design curves are inspired from the Palm Pre but provides a uniquely different experience when compared to other smartphones running on the “Touch” bandwagon.
Besides the physical specifications, RIM (The Company behind BlackBerry) has burned the midnight oil while bundling out its new OS6.0 with “Torch”. However the overall combination of Hardware & Software specifications comes with a few disappointments. RIM has done a great job by providinga 5 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi support for 802.11n and more memory than their earlier devices, but the processor is still slow in comparison to the competition and the screen size and resolution seem downright laughable by 2010 standards.
On the other hand, the BlackBerry never did innately follow the flashy trends, set by companies such as Apple or Microsoft, and has targeted the torch, much like what it has done with all its mail centric phones, to business users. For them, Functionality will precede form and if the device strikes a good balance between the OS requirements and the hardware processing power, then the specs don’treally matter.
With a launch date of 12 August in U.S. blackberry carries a price tag of just $199. Some official specs of Torch are :
- BlackBerry 6 operating system
- Hardware qwerty keyboard (slide-down)
- 3.2 inch 480 x 360 screen
- 512 MB SDRAM
- 4 GB eMMC + 4 GB media card (expandable to 32 GB)
- 5 MP camera, autofocus, flash, video recording
- 1300 mAh battery
- Weight: 161g
- Dimensions: 111(h) x 62(w) x 14.6(d) mm
Can the BlackBerry Torch stem the users exodus?
The last couple of months were not good for RIM. The launch of the iPhone 4.0 and Samsung GalaxyS allured many users to flee from the Blackberry platform. What was this happening ? The answer was obvious ; RIM couldn’t match or came close to what the other players were offering. The e-mail and text experience might still be the best in the business, but increasingly 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.”
There are millions of featurephone users who are patiently monitoring the samrtphone industry in the midst of a major upheaval in terms of technology, plunging prices & consumer adoption, before they take the plunge themselves in the smartphone era. These groups can play a significant role in the success of BlackBerry Torch, if their needs and requirements would be addressed by the company.
Need to Frame Developers
Blackberry has always been the preferred choice for corporate houses and CIO’s . This is due to the tight levels on integration which Blackberry devices have with Corporate Mailing and authentication systems, such as Microsoft Exchange. RIM has always leveraged on its close bindings with professional & corporates, and the company largely ignored the consumer market. Microsoft made teh same mistake with Windows Mobile, but are making ammends now.
Over the last year, RIM has significantly improved its developer outreach, making it easier for developers to get started, making more iterations to the platform and making improvements to the BlackBerry App World. Perhaps more than OS 6 itself, the new developer announcements that RIM made at today’s event hold the most potential and throws some light on the future of the platform.
The key question is how far RIM can convince developers to focus on their development platform and shift from iOs, Android etc. This challenge is not meant only for RIM. Windows 7 is also going to face the same issues as the latest Windows 7 mobile platform is much different from earlier 6.5, which was more business centric like the blackberries. . This is not going to be an easy adoption for developers. However to bear the competition RIM need to far better & larger App store loaded with technically and functionally superior applications for its users.
Anyhow, despite of late entry, launch of Torch is on positive move on success path for the company. It would be interesting to see how other companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft encounters the current user-base Blackberry loyalists and make sure to keep their own customers inside the box.
If you are a BlackBerry user, and swear by the platform, we would like to hear your opinions about the “Torch”, and whether you’d be willing to upgrade.