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RANT! Does Anybody at RIM Actually Use Browser Bookmarks?

I really hate the BlackBerry Browser bookmarks. They are, unfortunately, a good example of most of all complaints I have had about what’s wrong with Research In Motion and the BlackBerry platform over the last year or so: sometimes it really seems like RIM’s developers don’t use a BlackBerry themselves. Some flaws are so silly, blatant and pointless that it just gives me a totally slovenly impression. Like, they probably know it’s wrong, they just don’t care.

My beef this time is a very old complaint I’ve had, way back since OS 4.2. I decided to talk about it now because I just noticed something I hadn’t noticed before…

First, look at this screenshot:

What a mess! Who needs so many folders in a portable device’s bookmarks? The really annoying thing about these bookmarks and folders is that not only are they utterly useless, they also can’t be deleted, edited or moved! Way to go RIM!

Folder #1) The bookmark at the top is “BlackBerry Help.” It’s just the same as the “Home Page” bookmark I have a few lines below, also visible in the screenshot. “BlackBerry Help” just points to the mobile BlackBerry site. There is a link to some kind of “help” or forums there, but it’s just the old mobile BlackBerry site. Do you follow me? They point to the same destination! Why do I have both bookmarks then? Well, ask RIM, not me. Neither of those bookmarks may be deleted. I have to keep both whether I like them or not.

And note that “BlackBerry Help” is in the “Links” folder. “Home Page” is in the “BlackBerry Bookmarks” folder. How about consolidating them into one single folder? I can’t! None of those bookmarks and folders may be changed, deleted or moved out of sight. That whole tree structure is compulsory. Seriously, I would like to see RIM explain what the difference is between “Links” and “BlackBerry Bookmarks” that warrants forcing me to maintain both folders.

By the way, doesn’t the BlackBerry have an internal manual already? Why do we need a “Help” bookmark inside the browser anyway?

Folder #2) “WAP Bookmarks.” That’s not such a bad idea. But I NEVER use those. Why can’t I move that folder way, way down the tree, where I will rarely see it? And why do I have to have TWO “WAP Bookmarks” folders? Yes, two, look at the screenshot. I’ve had two of it for as long as I can remember, even before OS 4.5. Why can’t I at least delete one of them? Did RIM really have to give carriers the ability to push out not one but two folders of links that I cannot control? (PS on AT&T they call them MediaNet & MediaNet Quicklinks)

Also notice that folder carries a bookmark to “Top Jogos Gameloft.” “Jogos” is Portuguese for “Games” (I am in Brazil). Who writes that mess, mixing up English with Portuguese willy-nilly so it doesn’t make any sense? Isn’t there ANYBODY who will spot that and arrange a fix? And I don’t care for games. I am not a game person. But can I delete that bookmark? Of course not, I have to carry that dead weight around for as long as RIM wants me to.

Folder #3) That is the cherry on the top. I have grown accustomed to ignoring that whole bookmark mess for so long that I never noticed there was a “Wi-Fi Services” folder and a “Wi-Fi Hotspot Login” bookmark. Where does it point to? IT POINTS HERE. You can open it yourself on your BlackBerry or desktop computer. Or you can just look at this amazing screenshot:

No kidding! I have an entire bookmark, in its own screen-cluttering folder, just for THAT?!!!


I don’t know about you, but my expectations around the upcoming BlackBerry browser are pretty low. I think it’s going to open pages fast and that’s it. I expect everything else in it to be a disaster. Mark my words.

44 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. My thoughts exactly. Opera Mini crashes all the time on my 9700, so I’m kinda forced to use BB browser. It sucks. Totally sucks. Let’s hope the new webkit browser gets released soon!

  2. I had very little success with Opera Mini on my 8800, and jsut about as much on my Tour. It worked, but it just seemed slow. I generally use the BlackBerry Browser, and BOLT when the BB Browser can’t cut it. Have you tried BOLT before?

    • Bolt is awful. Its font is so ugly it makes me sick. I love opera mini and I really hope they’ll release new beta or om 5 final soon.

      • Yeah, I can’t see what all the hype is regarding Bolt as like you, I think it’s ugly (I’d even go as far as saying it’s one of THE ugliest applications I’ve EVER used!)…

        Opera Mini is good, but I won’t use it until there’s a BlackBerry OS-SPECIFIC version, or Opera Software release Opera Mobile for BlackBerry OS – whilst it works, the current version of Opera Mini simply isn’t suited to BlackBerry devices!

  3. I use bookmarks all the time, but then again I have a very old 8830 so I’m considered crazy either way.

  4. I understand that the top folders are a mess! But I created my own folder and I use BB browser and bookmarks including rss feeds a lot! I do have bolt but I use it for the sites that don’t have mobile versions. You can save the bookmark folder state too. So even if you don’t like it, there are ppl that do and use them all the time! My 2 cents.

  5. I use the BB browser. I’ve tried Bolt and Opera and the both leave me wanting device integration that they will likely never be able to deliver.

    That said, I agree with Luciano here. Bookmarks in the BB browser are total nonsense. I should be able to delete EVERY bookmark or bookmark folder that’s on my device, unless they are pushed there by my coporate BES policy.

  6. Yes, I use them, although mostly I just type the URL on address bar

    “they also can’t be deleted, edited or moved!”

    and yes, they actually can.

    • Are you serious, Lou? I swear, I’ve never been able to delete or move mine. I can “edit” them, but only rename. There are none of the other editing options I have for bookmarks that I have created. Renaming doesn’t solve my problem since they still point to destinations I deem useless. Neither can I move them out of sight.

  7. I find all browsers on the BB leava a lot to be desired. I have to go to MY site frequently on my BB as the network nazis at work won’t let me go to the site. It is completely useless on the BB browser and Bolt. When I can get in via Opera it works but most time Opera tells me it can’t be found. While I can’t use the site on BB and Bolt, they find it, so I know it is a problem with Opera.

    Oh, to have one product that just works.

    • Sorry, CrashDavis, but sounds to me like you’ve made yourself a Web site that relies too much on a certain browser or features/behavior of a particular browser. I think that is the worst and most frequent mistake incurred by Web developers: writing a Web site that doesn’t work then blaming the browser. A good Web site will work on any browser. And changing a site or page is a lot easier than changing a browser. Even if you do have the power to change the browser, which rarely ever is the case for anyone.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Luciano this is one of the best articles anyone has written about Blackberries or RIM, I totally agree with you. If these people used the BB half as much as the avg Blackberry addict does I think there would be way less problems and hard to use things with the devices.

    • This is one of the “best articles anyone has written about Blackberries or RIM”…

      You’re kidding me, right? I am not implying that there is anything wrong with the article. The bookmarks feature in the default BlackBerry browser do suck. They suck big time! But to say this is one of the greatest articles written regarding BlackBerry devices or Research in Motion is….uh….just….wow!

    • Oh, well. Thank you. I am really glad you like it.

  9. I don’t disagree with most of your concerns, but I use BB Bookmarks a LOT and just love that I can hit K to get there, hit A to add a new one, and just start typing to quickly search and find the one I want. Not that broken.

    • I agree with that wholeheartedly, Nikolaus. But I have been arguing for quite some time that RIM is beginning to show some kind of decadence. I am convinced that RIM has been neglecting a lot of important details, thus failing to deliver the fine quality they made us grow accustomed to, while some other people even argue that RIM doesn’t innovate anymore.

      Due to that perception of decadence, I have come to believe that RIM is highly likely to neglect fine details such as the letter K and the letter A in the upcoming browser. Especially considering the impact the Bolt browser had on the BlackBerry when it was leaked/released: it was a hit even though it sucks. It has none of the extremely convenient features and integration that the BlackBerry Browser does. All it does is render pages faster, and that was enough to make a lot of people gaga over it. Now, with a new browser, RIM might as well do just that: a lesser browser that just renders pages faster. Removing those additional convenience features will result in less maintenance work for RIM anyway, and it doesn’t seem that a lot of people care about those.

      The message sent by the Bolt browser is that nobody cares about convenience features and integration, people just want a faster browser. Hey, look at the Home screen shortcuts: RIM has removed R for the Alarms and K for Password Lock. I HATED that, but they did. Their infinite wisdom surely prevails. Why would they behave differently in relation to the browser?

      I fear the days of the letter K and the letter A may be numbered. Apple says touch screens are the norm, so RIM had to comply — with the Storm. Apple says there must be an app store, so RIM followed suit: App World is here. Apple says too many buttons and configuration options are bad for you. Maybe that’s where RIM is heading now. Good-bye, shortcuts. Shortcuts are bad for you.

      Sure, I may be wrong about the future, but I can’t be wrong about the past events that make me conceive the future that way. Those have happened already.

  10. My carrier populates the bookmarks with their own [email protected] too… :(

  11. “By the way, doesn’t the BlackBerry have an internal manual already? Why do we need a “Help” bookmark inside the browser anyway?”

    I agree with you about a lot of the Bookmarks being useless…unless of course LouCypher is right and you CAN delete them but regarding the statement I have quoted above why would RIM choose to waste the disk space on an internal manual? Yes, there are people out there who use their BB without a data plan or a BIS Email/Messaging plan but everyone else has access to the manual online always via the BB site. So again, why waste the disk space on the device?
    Further, I haven’t looked but I am going to guess there is a way to copy the manual (as a pdf or even a Word doc) and manually save it to your BB yourself if you really want it.

    • Yes, I like the internal manual. Especially because it is so thorough (or rather used to be, many topics have been missing on OS 5.0 releases). It’s the links to Help on the Internet that I consider superfluous. I am not sure whether we agree or not. :-) Your point wasn’t very clear.

      Thank you for participating.

      • I love the built-in manual and I think ALL manufacturers should follow suit…

        As you pointed out however, the manual in BlackBerry OS 5.0.x.x is rubbish, instead linking online for many items.

        I’m not gonna hold my breath, but hopefully Research in Motion (RIM) will go back to the old way, with virtually all of the help stored on my device…

  12. I totally agree that the new browser RIM will release will probably be mediocre at best. I agree with you about setting my expectations low with what they will put out, this way if it is not up to snuff then I won’t be disappointed and if it is then I will be wowed! Best to take this approach……:)

    • It’s best to keep this outlook with basically everything RIM does. Don’t get me wrong, I love my BlackBerry because it suits my personal needs well – messaging & calendar. Outside of that, BlackBerry has fallen behind so many other smartphones that it’s not even funny. The App selection is mediocre at best and most of the “good” apps are outrageously priced. Web-browsing, in general, is pathetic on a BlackBerry. Finally, RIM focuses on releasing so many new devices that are tiny incremental improvements over “last years model” that it’s almost insulting. RIM has a lot of work to do if they don’t want to become forgotten. If it weren’t for their unmatched level of security – they would already be down the drain because they would lose the huge grip they have on the corporate and government markets.

  13. Whatever else the advantages of BB the browser is becoming as key as e-mail and thats where RIM has failed miserably and even if they fix the rendering I don’t think they will ever get what a mobile browser needs to be (use an iPhone or Android for a day or two).

    I’ll be dropping by 9700 later this year when my corporate opens up direct exchange sync and it won’t be a moment too soon. Awesome phone and e-mail, terrible browser and apps.

  14. Love the picture of bush with the dummy book. That is exactly how I feel about RIM. They just dont get it and I know why.

    Its those Java programmers. Yes they are smart, Yes they can build anything, but they are too smart to make UI for normal people. Like asking someone from NASA to make you a coloring book.

    C developers arent much better but look what Apple did, gave them a really small box to write objective C in and gave them rich UI controls to use.

    RIM dump Java, port to Linux (or Android, cough cough) and let real developers with UI skills at your platform.

    Oh and have I mentioned WEBKIT OMFG

    • Funny you mention Linux, because I see your rant about Java programmers as analogous to the big mistake the Linux universe makes over and over: lots of effort spent on core and little regard to the polishing stage. Wasn’t 2004 supposed to be “The Year of Linux on the Desktop”? How is that working out now?

      Not that I share your view of Java programmers. I don’t really know any, so I wouldnt know. :-)

      Thank you for your comment.

  15. Agreed. The browser bookmarks tool sucks. It needs to be able to sync like Opera Mini.

  16. Its not that the author is “against” the BlackBerry bookmarks, he just thinks their current layout SUCKS! I couldn’t agree more.

    Not only does the layout suck, but the “go to” screen sucks even harder. Its such a pain to scroll around from the “address” to “search” and “choose search engine”. I’m always scrolling past one of them. Its not my sensitivity, its just the lack of momentum scrolling. What’s even worse is how when you scroll from top to bottom, it highlights different areas than when you scroll from bottom to top. What the EFF!!!

    • “when you scroll from top to bottom, it highlights different areas than when you scroll from bottom to top”

      Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by that. I don’t think I have ever seen that behavior. What model is your BlackBerry, and what OS does it run?

  17. the Wifi bookmark is used to login to a wifi hotspot..
    since the blackberry’s brrowser is so woefully lacking mose of the time it’ll connect to wifi, like the airport, but not open the slash screen where you’d typically have to login, etc etc.

    that wifi bookmark will load the spash screen so you can login to that wifi and get the BB services (BBM, browser, email) working over wifi

    • Ok, but why does it have to be a bookmark? Why not just a local, read-only Web page? Or simply hard code that inane destination (I linked to it in the article) in the Wifi login class/routine?

      A bookmark is supposed to help you get quickly to a destination that you visit often. Who is ever going to visit that page? I mean, on purpose?!!

      Using a bookmark for that is an adhesive-tape grade kludge.

  18. Actually your issues with the folders/links is just a problem with your device (your carrier?).

    I do not have all those folder/links. Here is what I have:

    Folder: WiFi
    Link: wifi login
    (as explained by treatz above there is actually a reason for this on).

    Folder: Rogers Mall
    Link: Rogers homepage
    (That’s it just 1 link)

    Folder: Blackberry bookmarks
    Link: just links I create

    So as you can see the folders are very minimal and there only 2 precreated links.

    So again your issues is not with RIM exactly, it is with your carrier.

  19. I really espero you’re wrong amigo…

  20. Luciano, do you know what will make BlackBerry’s bookmarks really better? A client of Xmarks ( that sinchronize bookmarks from different computers and browsers.
    Let’s keep waiting…

  21. Interesting article, but I guess I just accept it for what it is (and considering a new browser is on the near horizon) and just use it.

    I do use bookmarks, and lots of them.

    Thanks for sharing,


    • That’s actually a pretty nice attitude, Tfer. But I thought a little deeper about it and decided that I only accept MY FRIENDS for who they are, not my browsers.

      My very best regards.

  22. i use the bookmarks on a daily basis there fin. i made my own folders for everything i use cooking games fav websites ect. ive used opera and it really sucks in my opinion. bolt is the better of the two. bolts bookmarks are right there on the start screen and its a lot more friendly with the menu also just dont like that u have to click the ok button 50 million times to get it to load some pages. leave the browser bookmarks on the native browser alone thanks

  23. You seem to have (intentionally?) Missed my point.

    You rant is like saying BBs suck because their touchscreens are hard to use.

    Yes that is true, but only for SOME BBs not all of them.

  24. I use bookmarks on all 3 web browsers.
    Native BB: my current mainstream for everyday simple browsing and video streaming on youtube and simple java scripts for important animations like on accuweather.

    Mini Opera 5 Beta: Some pages render better font and loads really fast.

    Bolt: Awesome for downloading massive files. I was able to download a file over 130 MB through WiFi on it.

    Summary: Native BB is…impressive now

    Phone: Bold Onyx 9700
    Carrier: AT&T

  25. Speaking of web browsers…what happened to Skyfire for BB?

    There isn’t even a mention of “in the works” since that leak they had a loooong time ago that went south because a lot of people downloaded and tried to use.

  26. Very well said Luciano. Way too much redundant redundancy.

  27. The BB OS hasn’t changed much since OS 4.2, and has been a utter disappointment since then. What makes you think the webkit browser will be any good out of the gate?

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