After squashing the clicking mess that was the Blackberry Storm, iPhone emerged as the titan of mainstream (consumer-centric) smartphones back in 2008 and 2009. Research in Motion has gone back to the drawing board and is now preparing to fire back with a new design for their touchscreen-based Blackberries, dubbed the “9800” by speculators in the blogosphere. If they are to maintain their position as North America’s #1 smartphone maker, RIM needs to step it up in the consumer space, which has been dominated by Apple and Google thus far.
The new device, if bloggers and analysts have it right, will feature a touchscreen as well as a full slide-out keyboard, a revamped operating system, a more user-friendly browser and other features that consumers want and older BlackBerry lines sorely lack.
If the OS is good and they make a significant marketing push, RIM can hopefully get something nice going here, as they STILL have a lock on the chat game working in their favor, as Apple hasn’t offered a unified counter to Blackberry Messenger. I have no idea why, but iPhone continues to ship with no iChat client. What we get instead is a fragmented array of wannabe-BBMs all over the App Store. And without a clear champion among them, they’re all useless, since you need your friends to be using the same IM app in order to communicate. Oh, and they’re taking the fight straight to Cupertino by partnering with AT&T.
Analysts say RIM’s shift to AT&T appears a savvy strategy for this critical product push. AT&T uses the same GSM standard as an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the world’s wireless networks, which means the new BlackBerry can move quickly into high-growth international markets.
Some expect AT&T to put major marketing muscle behind the new BlackBerry. With speculation rife that it may lose its exclusive U.S. rights to iPhone next year, AT&T should diversify its offerings and lessen its dependence on iPhone, analysts say.
I would personally love to see a strong offering from RIM here. Android gaining steam everyday, and Apple hot off their first misstep in as long as I can remember, I love the stiffness of competition among the mobile phone makers. It’s the best thing for gadget consumers.