Last year's phones won't save RIM
3rd Aug 2011 | 16:21
BlackBerry maker underwhelms again
At this morning's media event, RIM's maths went a bit awry.
It is "our biggest ever launch!", spokespeople insisted, at which the company would reveal "five new phones!!"
Five new phones in one go – about time, we thought as we feverishly readied our cameras for five new hands on reviews.
But what did RIM actually announce? A phone it had already unveiled in May, two international variants and just two new phones to speak of.
Two is the new five
It's this kind of "clever" marketing trick that is costing RIM dear. At a time when the company really needs to put its hands up and say, "We know we've got some ground to make up", it's messing about trying to trick everyone into thinking its smartphone roster is more robust than it actually is.
Let's face it: what we saw today was not a line up that's going to save RIM.
The BlackBerry Torch 9810 is what the original Torch shouldhave been. Yes, the faster processor and higher-res screen are both great - but it's not progress. It would have been a brilliant phone in some respects. The rest of the industry has moved on while RIM has been chasing last year's devices.
Kudos to them for doing it, but after a nine-month smartphone dry spell what we need from RIM is something spectacular, if only to reassure us that it can keep up with the Android and iOS Joneses. Now - not in 18 months when the QNX-based 'superphones' are ready.
Spectacular is not the word that sprang to mind as we played with the BlackBerry Torch 9860; yes, it's got a bigger, higher-res screen but the plasticky finish, sluggish camera and single-core processor hold it back, especially when you think about future proofing (yes, we might not really need a dual core unit, but consumers have been slightly brainwashed to think that it's very important).
Out of focus
It's been said before, but it's true: it could take so little to turn the company around – a bit of internal focus and a couple of smart hires could be all it needs. But the first step to recovery is acceptance and that's the hurdle at which it is most likely to fall.
At its best, RIM can be brilliant. That QWERTY keyboard is still unrivalled on any handset, BlackBerry Messenger showed others where to follow and you can't fault BlackBerry handsets for their security prowess and data efficiency.
But this bullish, number fudging, average phone-releasing RIM is not the original email device wonder at its best, and it's becoming ever more likely that the company, clearly flailing around trying to grab onto the next big thing, isn't going to get back there.