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Rant! BlackBerry blog has new, lame design

I didn’t even know there was an “Official BlackBerry Blog.” I should have known. A friendly reader just told me that the “Official BlackBerry Blog” has a new design. It’s the beautiful thing you can see above. Ain’t that pretty? I like it. But wait…

Well, I liked it until I decided to check it on my BlackBerry. That didn’t go well because, like I mentioned yesterday, I always have my BlackBerry set on Firefox mode so I can check all sites’ full version, not their mobile version. I do that because many sites insist on pushing an incomplete “mobile” version. Well, that beautiful screenshot above is obviously taken with a BlackBerry browser set on BlackBerry mode. Look what happens when I tried to view it in my usual Firefox mode:

Yikes! The black text bleeds into a black background and is pretty much unreadable. Do you know what that means? I know what that means. That means THEY DIDN’T TEST IT.

This topic actually raises much deeper concerns than just a poorly developed Web page design. It reeks of a problem I have detected in a long time: a blatant lack of “dogfooding” at RIM. You know, when software developers eat their own dog food. Sometimes it really doesn’t look like that is happening at RIM.

If you do the test yourself, you will see that the blog page is considerably longer/bigger in Firefox mode. It’s more “complete.” In BlackBerry mode, it’s a lot shorter. I didn’t check whether any content is missing or it has just been broken into smaller pieces, but in either case my question is: WHY???!!! Are they telling us that the BlackBerry browser can’t digest and display long pages? Are they admitting defeat? Why would they do that, that is not really true — although the BlackBerry browser does choke on a few long pages once in a while. The BlackBerry browser can handle that full page pretty well. And this has nothing to do with saving bandwidth either. We all have unlimited BIS/BES packages, we can browse to our hearts’ content without incurring overage fees, so that’s no excuse. What were they thinking? I suspect they were not thinking at all. It just didn’t occur to them that the browser has other emulation modes and that some users might, well, you know, use them. So it only looks good in “mobile” mode. In full mode, it looks bad. Who is responsible for their Web design?

I am 100% sure many readers will be encouraged to say it’s not the page, it’s the browser. Yes, I’ve had that problem all the time since I moved from OS 4.5 to OS 4.6. But I won’t discuss the BlackBerry browser problem. That’s something I’ve been avoiding because the list of problems would be ridiculously long, the article would turn out to be more like a book. But I can sum up all the problems we have with the BlackBerry browser in one single sentence: RIM staff themselves don’t use it. Here is my pet peeve with the BlackBerry browser:

Is it a coincidence that RIM is not even mentioned as one of the “major players in the phone space” in the article above? I often have difficulty reading Web sites on my BlackBerry because of that ridiculous line height. Why are those lines so crammed one onto another? The real questions are: how did that get past Quality Control? Does anyone at RIM actually use the BlackBerry browser? Didn’t anyone at RIM realize this problem and say “Hey, this sucks, let’s fix it”? That is the summary of all the BlackBerry browser problems.

And here is one more example: a message I got from the BlackBerry “Owners’ Lounge.” Any BerryReview reader is excused for not knowing that there is a “BlackBerry Owners’ Lounge.” It’s useless most of the time. There have been complains about that and they improved it, they now send us tips that aren’t usually very interesting, but they do. Since I am in Brazil, they didn’t ask me what language I prefer, they just sent me the message in Portuguese. Look at the result:

It’s a pretty long message, I had to request “More” several times, and it’s all garbled like that.

I’ll explain in case you don’t get it. Portuguese is a language full of accented charactes, like à, é, ô, and cedillas (ç). That text above should have read like this:

Conexão BlackBerry
Edição latino-americana
Prezado Luciano,
Você encontrará nesta edição:
– Mais dicas, truques e atalhos

But apparently RIM is unable to send me an e-mail message with the correct encoding. The message comes straight from RIM, it is displayed in my BlackBerry device and it looks all garbled. E-mail is the most prominent feature of the BlackBerry platform, how can that even happen?

I’ve told you what my guess is: they don’t test it. Worse: I’ll even venture say that many of them don’t actually use it. Maybe they carry iPhones, Nokias and HTCs around in their everyday life. That lack of careless oversight is something that makes the competition seem really attractive.

5 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Or they use Bolt or Opera. Just a thought. But yes, the stock browser needs a major overhaul.

  2. Well, quite clearly the page was not intended on being viewed in Firefox mode. You have to consider the fact it’s running on WordPress with a mobile plugin. When ur browser is placed in Firefox mode the user agent your browser sends is still detected as a mobile browser. The issue here is the plugin that is being used, it’s incompatible with Firefox mode on your BlackBerry. So, while I may agree RIM’s browser is def not on par with that of other mobile browsers. The rant herein is a little misguided as to where blame is to be laid.

  3. Checked out the mobile site myself and I have the standard settings. The site is okay. Nothing spectacular but a work in progress. I would probably ask for a cleaner comment system, it looks a little messy on a Bold 9000 (OS I’m also a little torn on images when it comes to a mobile version. I’m not sure if they’re so necessary.

  4. Expecting changes to the native browser right now is kind of moot to begin with, since it’s going to be trumped by a webkit browser (which is a new browser) anyways.

    Upgrading the existing browser and working on the new one in parallel is a waste of time (unless the webkit browser was years off, which it does not seem to be so far).

    Also with per-bookmark settings+common browser settings in general, I seriously doubt a ton of people are going to be viewing this blog in firefox mode. Even if they did, overall consequences to the platform of this particular blog displaying poorly? Probably very, very little…

  5. I think the point being missed here is Research In Motion are providing multiple modes on the device and are not catering for each one of those modes in the design of there sites.

    Surely if you are designing a site you need to tinker and fix for services and modes you are providing in your own product, so whether it be BlackBerry, Firefox, Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc, the site still needs to render in an acceptable fashion and its not hard to get this right with WordPress.

    There are many sites on WWW that work well in a mode other than BlackBerry, I dont see why Research In Motion themselves can’t get there own site working correctly.

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