RIM today unveiled the Bold and Torch phones it hopes will address its declining smartphone fortunes
RIM has delivered the first BlackBerry smartphones running its BlackBerry 7 OS, which had previously been shown in May. Tjhe London event showed three new phones in RIM’s biggest ever global launch as it tries to get back on track in the smartphone market.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 (pictured) combines the familiar BlackBerry QWERTY keypad with a touchscreen in a brushed stainless steel frame that BlackBerry says is its thinnest ever at 10.5mm thick. the 9930 is a CDMA version of the phone for the US.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is embedded for the first time in a BlackBerry device, opening the door for mobile and contactless payments and functions such as secure building entry or reading smart tags in posters.
RIM says it plans to take NFC a step further – when users have NFC-enabled credit cards, they will be able to make only purchases by tapping the card on the phone.
RIM launched an all-touch phone, the 9850, with a 3.7 in touchscreen user interface. there is also a 9860 – a US CDMA version.
Finally, the BlackBerry Torch 9810 is a hybrid – a slider phone with a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard.
Each handset has been given a boost with a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, and each is Wi-Fi and GPS enabled with more memory than previous models.
BlackBerry 7 OS
RIM is relying on the BB 7 OS to level the playing field between it and iPhones running iOS and Android devices.
Majoring on speed, the WebKit engine achieves 40 percent faster browsing than BB6 in RIM’s internal testing and enhanced zooming and panning. It also supports HTML5.
RIM has also introduced Liquid Graphics technology to deliver more responsive touch interface and faster graphic processing.
The messaging app is fully customisable and can organise any or all of SMS, BBM, email messages, calendar entries and even Facebook messages in the same place.
WikiTude augmented reality has been added and BBM, the heart of RIM’s user ‘community’, has been made more social by allowing sharing of apps and gaming experiences with contacts over the popular messaging platform.
Fingers crossed for touch success
Patrick Spence, managing director of global sales and marketing at RIM, said that building choice was the key with today’s launches: “We’re going to bring more and more people into the community thanks to the enhanced experience we’re providing with BlackBerry 7 and the choice of product set,” he said.
He also said that RIM covets a bigger presence in the all-touch smartphone market, saying: “We’re really going to be able to address those users that prefer that form factor but want that ultimate communications experience, that want to be part of the community.”
Pete Cunningham, principal analyst, Canalys believes BlackBerry stands a chance of turning things around and the combination of improved touchscreen navigation with the accuracy of the QWERTY keypads will broaden its appeal.
“With BlackBerry OS 7 and RIM’s new devices it is well positioned to maintain its strong growth that it continues to see in markets like the UK, Saudi Arabia and South Africa,” he said.
The launch of BB 7 OS is RIM’s largest ever simultaneous global launch with 225 operators onboard and it has a lot riding on its success. However, BlackBerry has said it has a limited future and will eventually be replaced by the QNX operating system used on the Playbook
BlackBerry said today it had 66 million users globally, and 7m in the UK. Spence also said BBM was gaining 48 new users per second around the world.
Precise dates and pricing are yet to be given for the new devices.