Yesterday, RIM announced plans to launch five new BlackBerry 7 Smartphones. New BlackBerry phones! That kind of news would have elicited lots of excitement back in 2006, when BlackBerry's manufacturer Research In Motion made the fanciest phones out there. Now, not so much. The company hasn't had such a hot month, as we reported; they announced big lay-offs a few weeks ago due to lackluster sales and a sad stock price. BlackBerry really hasn't been able to compete with the iPhone or popular Android phones and unfortunately it doesn't look like these new phones will turn things around for the ailing company.
The latest BlackBerrys are stacked with all sorts of cell-phone bells and whistles, improving on their previous devices of yester-decade. They forgo their clunky past, but maintain their beloved keyboard, explains ZDNet's James Kendrick. "The new BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 are the thinnest BlackBerry phones yet, and combine a touch screen with a QWERTY keyboard." The devices will also feature faster OS 7 software and feature the biggest screen ever on a BlackBerry phone. But Kendrick doesn't think these improvements will keep the fleeing customers, "While BlackBerry enthusiasts will like these faster phones with the better web browsing experience in BB 7, they will not likely stem the desertion of existing customers RIM is undergoing."
Others don't find the phones themselves that impressive. "The specs of the new phones are modest, as BlackBerry is a bit new to the whole 'performance phone' bracket," explains Ars Technica's Casey Johnston. The battery life isn't that long, at just under seven hours of talk time, and the phones don't have access to the 4G network, which could be a "tripping point," adds Johnston. These sad phones certainly won't bring RIM back to mobile phone greatness, argues AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, "RIM’s in quite a predicament, and, sadly, it’s one that may not be easily solved--certainly not by the decidedly unexciting new handsets the company announced this morning."
And even if the phones wow customers, BlackBerry's latest efforts are too little, too late. "The late arrival punctuates what has been a jarring collapse this year of the formerly beloved BlackBerry maker. RIM missed a crucial turn in the smartphone market and management has been seen as ineffective in its response," says The Street's Scott Moritz. They might fill a product void for RIM, but it's nothing more than a placeholder until the next big thing comes along, explains Moritz.