At yesterday’s Torch unveiling we were introduced to some new RIM hardware, with some more important RIM software–BBOS6. Having been at the unveiling and having had the chance to play with the Torch for a few minutes, I am definitely very excited for this phone. The Torch is the best BB hardware to date and OS6 brings to BB a lot of pizzaz and functionality.
However, after having a few minutes to reflect, I feel as if RIM merely ripped-off competitor functionality and style and really added very little to distinguish themselves. In fact, the only real distinguishing factor the torch has is the vestigial keyboard from last millenium. With that said, follow the link to read my point by point rundown.
OS6 features: A lot of ripoff with little innovation.
- Hide and seek app menu: A RIM interface differentiator. Instead of a constant filled app screen ala IOS4 or a widget icon mix ala Android, BB6 has a semi transparant app bar at the bottom that you can pull up to different heights or completely to reveal apps.
- Preview bar: A clone of the android status bar. By tapping the top bar, you can reveal message notifications. However, this bar must be tapped to access, it can’t be pulled down like in Android.
- Multiple semi-customizable homescreens: You can arrange icons on the first page, frequent programs on the left screen and favorites on the right. It seems more like IOS4 and doesn’t allow widgets like Android.
- Universal search: Already available on Android and IOS4.
- Wrap reading feature: Double tap text to resize to the screen. The big two are already there, but atleast BB adds something new by actually grabbing, reformatting and resizing the text to maximize screen real estate.
- App world: Buy with credit card, paypal or wireless bill. Actually a cool feature.
- *BB6 side note: RIM traditionally foregos pizzaz in favor of stability. Thus, I wasn’t surprised when many cool new features weren’t that fluid, shiny, or graphically smooth. But I was surprised at how laggy the whole system was on the Torch. Assuming it wasn’t a problem with the yet unreleased OS, it is completely unacceptable for the newest BB to not be able to handle new pre-stripped OS features.
The torch itself: A dinosaur and an austronaut walk into a bar…
- Trackpad: Why does one need a trackpad if there is a full touchscreen? A dinosaur artifact to please and welcome slow moving adopters.
- Tiny Screen: Many BB users aren’t interested in big screens for movies or media, big screens are needed to fit more information on the screen. RIM totally missed the point here by giving us more functionality with little space to comfortably view it. For example, in my quick tests with the phone this point was driven home when in tabbed browsing you are given previews of open browser windows that are microscopically tiny.
What are your thoughts?
- People have been making some good point about the relevancy of the touchpad even with the touchscreen. Interesting points.
- I should mention that this is an opinion piece and doesn’t reflect a BerryReview hatred for RIM. This is a merely a response to what I felt was RIM conforming instead of innovating. As someone who is interested in Blackberries, I am sometimes disappointment by RIM. This is one of those times.
- What I wanted to point out is that while there are one or two innovations here, RIM awkwardly pulled itself up to the status quo. They did not incorporate many industry standards in what I think are appealing ways. But more importantly, they failed to capture the interest of a full market. New studies show that BB users have the lowest brand loyalty. Everyone else is innovating and most consumers want in on that. Its hard to convince someone to get excited about old tech and what is already standard. Maybe my expectations were too high…