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Simple Solution: BlackBerry Lightning with 1Ghz Processor and WVGA Screen

WebKit Choke2I was talking to a friend about our previous post and it struck me. How many of RIM’s short term issues would be solved with a 1Ghz baseband processor, a high resolution WVGA (800x480px) screen, along with 1GB of RAM. They could even just call it the BlackBerry Lightning since it would outpace a Torch. :) RIM is after all a company filled with brilliant engineers so this has to have crossed their minds. Just think of how this would solve their short term OS problems until they get QNX ready:

  1. Sluggish OS and the dreaded hourglass – While RIM has made huge headway in BlackBerry 6 the extra processing power and RAM should make this a no brainer.
  2. Slow app loading – A 33% boost in processing power along with a baseband processor that is not 2 years old would definitely help in a BIG way.
  3. 3-5 minute reboots – Once again simply throw more horse power at the problem
  4. Rebooting on app upgrades – See above
  5. Competitive specs – This update could simply put RIM in line with the competition. Its as simple as that.
  6. Limited memory for 3rd party apps – While this was helped quite a bit with the 512MB memory built into the latest devices imagine what developers could do with double that.
  7. Sex appeal – With a shiny high res screen we could finally get some serious graphics on a BlackBerry and get even closer to real desktop-like web browsing on a BlackBerry.
  8. Slow browser – While the WebKit browser is light years ahead of the previous OS 5.0 browser it is still hampered by the slow 2 year old processor and limited memory. Check out the screenshot above.

I know what Mike Lazaridis would respond to my solution. The Ghz wars are not for RIM since current battery constraints just make them impractical. He said as much at the Dive Into Mobile conference. I have a simple answer to that. Throw a 3000mAh battery into the device and you will double the battery power. Have you seen how big the current Torch battery is? I would sacrifice a little heft for a serious boost in horsepower. They did this when the BlackBerry Bold 9000 came out why can’t they do it again? The 9000 had a battery that was more than 1/3rd of the device. The Torch has a battery that is almost half that size.

What do you think of my simple solution? I am no engineer but it seems like every other smartphone manufacturer has figured out how to put 1Ghz baseband processors in phones. Why can’t RIM? Just balance it out with a bigger battery… I am sure they are even working on this but no engineer in their right mind would continue using 2 year old processors in their cutting edge devices. Something tells me that RIM is working on a new baseband processor for BlackBerry 6 but they really need to get in front of this issue. There is really no good reason for RIM to continue using a processor that will soon be 3 years old… So it makes no sense for RIM not to come out and say it already.

38 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I’m willing to bet it’s because they don’t have the money to buy the upgrades. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out anything that you mentioned. It only takes money.

  2. Yeah they are stuck with the millions of 624mhz processors in Bla1ze’s basement ;)

  3. Come on now. At this stage of the game do you think common sense comes into the equation in Waterloo. At this point I believe Rim = Palm. OS6 and the Torch are at best rehashes of what has worked in the past.
    You want to see what consumers want, look at Apple and Android. Even the business side is beginning to migrate to other platforms. With the continued growth of the smartphone segment RIM has to realize that the consumers are where the money is. Apple and Android makers already did and look at the way they are growing.

  4. RIM over thinks things sometimes, and also if you noticed they have a habit of making small upgrades to devices. They do one thing well and that is making sure the device works and does what is supposed to efficiently but they lack in hardware and appeal.

  5. Two words: Torch 2

    • Thats exactly what I am saying. I want a Torch 2 ASAP that simply upgrades the hardware just like they upgraded the software. Its just a shame that my 6 month old torch has almost the same guts as my old Bold 9000 that is over 2 years old.

  6. More memory doesn’t mean more memory for apps devs. Look at what’s happening with Android. Devs are stuck with a relatively small chunk of memory to work with and it sucks for games.

    The leap to a new motherboard that supports all these features is a huge step for RIM. Look at by how much the original bold was delayed. RIM is not good at innovating on the hardware front.

  7. RIM has way too many devices out there. They’ve diluted themselves that if they were to release a brand new revolutionary device, they would have to duplicate it across the other product lines. They could upgrade the Storm or the Torch but not everyone who owns a Blackberry, especially the corporate sector, wants a touchscreen device, so they would have to upgrade the Bolds, Tours and Curves. Then you have the Pearls and the clamshells. You have to admire Apple– they have one device and it’s just right for most people. They talk generations while other manufacturers talk brothers, sisters, cousins, etc…, within each generation.

    • Granted, if everyone does what Apple does ingeniuty in the smartphone market dies…

      1 form factor for all is lame. There’s no room left for other manufacturers to do this.

      • I agree with having a variety of form factors, not so many that it slows you down, though. To Ronan’s point, it’s a matter of releasing a device that doesn’t become underpowered or inflexible within a few months. There’s nothing wrong with building in features such as graphic acceleration, enough memory that you’ll have to find ways to fill it up for the life of your device, and so on, even if there is no use for it today. Developers will find a way to extend the device. It seems you just get enough until you can shell out for the next model in your class. I have the Storm 2 (yes yes, condolences accepted =) ) and while it’s a neat device, as my needs and use for it grows and RIM urges me to incorporate it into my lifestyle in addition to my work, the hardware should account for it. With Verizon, there really is nowhere to go beyond the Storm, although the Torch seems the logical successor. Not on Verizon, though. You’ve got a pretty screen yet there are maybe two apps out there that even allow you to do any sort of image processing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stuck with Blackberry for a while, ever since the 8700 series. And with RIM even as far back as when ‘Research In Motion’ was silkscreened across their devices. I count my blessings and then I count my nickels hoping RIM comes up with something to spend it on.

        • In reality though, opengl hasn’t really extended the Storm2 or the 9650 or the 8530 at all…

          It will go (and has gone) barely utilized due to legacy (and newer devices) not having it.

          So they would have to add graphic acceleration for a year or two and then expect devs to use it on the NEXT iteration after those devices (even then there is the question of will the BB userbase buy into 3d apps as much as other platforms. Possibly not). How long would it take for most of the BB userbase majority to have opengl support? They keep older devices much longer than other platforms I would imagine, especially if you add in the corp environment.

          • You are correct. OpenGL was incorporated it seems, to barely support the touchscreen interface; but snappy blits are an inertia that isn’t going to stop. My device takes forever to update thumbnails in the media app. I read rumors of nVidia designing the video hardware for the next generation of smartphone motherboards. I drool. Not because I feel a Need for Speed but because it simply translates to better performance and experience. Maybe RIM has a finger in that pie!

  8. This is exactly what should have happened with the 9800!
    And exactly why I took my Torch back and got a Droid 2

  9. Amen as much as I like my blackberry rim is really going to make me switch to the droid software I’m jealousof my friends did x and evo phones. I’m typing this from my 7th bb the slow ass torch with only 70 apps and 185 memory left

  10. Ronen, the specs that you’re describing sound a lot like the Storm 3 specifications that you posted from BBLeaks at the beginning of November.

    http://www.berryreview.com/2010/11/02/rumors-swirl-on-blackberry-storm-3-specifications/

    I happen to agree with what you said in this blog posting because I’ve been posting the same thing for a while about RIM’s hardware. It just can’t compete with the Andoroid devices and the iPhone. If RIM would have released some OS 6 devices with those specs before black friday then maybe they could retain their market share. I expect their market share to drop by a few more percentage points by the end of this year.

  11. I really don’t see any urgency for RIM to upgrade their hardware. Their profits are consistently rising, maybe not at a pace equal to android and iPhone but it is rising quarter to quarter. Regular people don’t read all these analysts and blogs posts. I was out last weekend and found myself in a group of friends from my highschool days and in short time found that every single one had a blackberry…atleast 8 of us. 3 Torches in the group and the rest bold and curve trackpad models. So all fairly new. Not a single droid or iPhone. And no complaints from anyone during the smartphone conversation. So does RIM feel they need to upgrade the hardware immediately? Probably not as much as power users who read about this stuff all day would think. I personally could care less. My torch is perfect for the apps I use and communication. If I want to play games I fire up my PS3, the browser could be a bit faster but I don’t use it enough to really care. I think theres a lot of hype around droid and iOS that is really misappropriated. I’ve played with both multiple times and don’t see any glaring benefits of the extra power.

    • Hi DevGuy did you read the analysis in the article I sent you. RIM seems to be increasing profits in an unsustainable way by cutting margins and using low end hardware which allows them to cut margins.
      There is a reason you have a PS3 and are not still using a original PlayStation. You want to have the best experience available. We just want the same thing for our BlackBerrys. It would be like HP refusing to update the processors in their laptops for almost 3 years saying it would impact battery life. They would still make money but its a stupid strategy.
      I know that RIM is not stupid so I am just trying to extrapolate what their strategy is and why it is taking so damn long…

      • I didn’t get an article from you Ronen. But I understand what you’re getting at. I think my last sentence was my main point. For what the vast majority of people are doing with smartphones there’s really no need for any extra power. Will there be…sure, it would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. But there seems to be some sort of consensus that this is an emergency and iOS and Droid are doing some miraculous things that BlackBerrys aren’t. And in order for RIM to do these phantom things they need to ugrade all their hardware. The difference between your analogies and smartphones is really simple. Computers perform enormous amounts of work with a lot of open applications and functions. This is why computer power is exponentially increasing, it’s needed. People aren’t using smartphones to this extent, and I really can’t forsee it getting to that point. While smartphones are allowing users to perform more tasks it really isn’t feasible to perform these tasks for an extended period of time on a consistent basis. The tasks that we do need the phone for are easily accomplished right now with the current hardware. I would love to see a list of things that iOS and droid users of what exactly they’re getting done with the extra power. I have 4 droid phones for development and testing so I use them fairly often and honestly there’s nothing different I do then with my berry. And I don’t see any benefits. I would assume regular users would use even less functionality than myself. So I don’t think RIM cares right now…and I also don’t think they should.

        • What about using web apps? A lot of power and a large screen are required to be able to enjoy most of them.

          Granted, native apps could be developed, but the BB version is usually not very high on the priority list of most dev houses and the end result is usually not on par with what can be found on Android and iPhone.

          • What ones? Twitter and FaceBook are absolutely comparable. And people are still using laptops 98% of the time when using webapps. Smartphones are way to small to use website effectively. The only time the smartphone is used for your argument is when there is no other option. i.e. the person is doesn’t have a laptop or internet connection. How often is that? Is it enough that a user would feel burdened by the smartphone? I’d argue Not Often and Not At All respectively. And do iOS and Droid users accept the shortcomings of a small device when using said apps. They would have to. I don’t think 80% of users are replacing their computer use of these web apps with smartphone use of them.

            • And to go one step further does the average user know what processor and memory their device has? And are they making their buying decisions based on hardware specs? I think theres a whole lot of evidence supporting NO. One has to look no further than the laptop isle at best buy or future shop this holiday season. I went to buy my cousin a laptop for Christmas (Not just from me :). And you wanna know what laptops had Sold Out stickers? The cheap ones. NOT the powerful ones. So is RIM losing ground do to hardware specs? I say NO. So should they invest in upgrading the hardware in an attempt to gain ground? I’d say that would be pretty stupid.

              • devguy you make some valid points. I used to be a big Blackberry guy but after getting to try a Droid X I didn’t go back to my Storm 2 which I thought was the best Blackberry I’ve ever used and I’ve used several for work and personal use. The biggest reason I didn’t go back was being able to do everything so much faster with the faster processor on the Droid X. Yes it has worse battery life but I’m willing to sacrifice the battery life for better performance.

                Regardless the fact is that RIM has lost a lot of market share and mind share over the past year. Have you seen these articles/press releases about RIM’s market share?

                http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/us-smartphone-battle-heats-up/
                http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2010/12/comScore_Reports_October_2010_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share

                They’re on track to lose another few percent by the end of the year.

                The following article is the most telling. In Oct 2009, over 90% of Verizon’s smartphone sales were Blackberries. This was the month before the original Motorola Droid came. In Nov 2009 you can see a dramatic drop in their share of Verizon’s smartphone sales. By Nov 2010 Blackberry’s share had dropped to under 20%. In 13 months they lost over 70% of Verizon’s smartphone market.

                http://digitaldaily.allthingsd.com/20101210/verizons-cure-for-crackberry-addiction-android/

              • See that is the thing with cheap laptops. They are cheaper. You can get a 1Ghz android phone for the same price as a 624Mhz BlackBerry Torch. So if you were presented with two laptops at the same price and one had specs that are 33% better…
                I don’t get what you mean about it being stupid for RIM to invest in new hardware to gain ground. Are you saying it is stupid to innovate if 2 year old tech is good enough?

              • The point you are making about people not caring about horsepower is valid if you are thinking from the corporate standpoint and my mom and dad. =) Although my mom complains all the time about not being able to crop a photo on her Curve or it doesn’t zoom in fast enough. I don’t have the heart to tell her so I just tell her to frame the photo better.

                Over here, they’ve pretty much hobbled the browser, disabled mms, etc…, and only view the Blackberry as an extension of the workday, not an extension of your laptop/desktop. RIM ruled the corporate market, still does, but that doesn’t prevent internal teams across the country from testing Droids and iPhones in corporate environments, even if it’s just for due diligence. As trite as ‘cloud computing’ sounds, it’s what’s happening, not because it’s the next best thing but because buying cloud services is cheaper than developing it in-house. I use Dropbox– it works and is usable. Of course it could be faster, especially when rendering my documents, but that’s where the hardware should come in. It’s not necessarily for games or cool ui effects but for general performance to match how things are being done. Being able to zip through a 200 page pdf goes a long way beyond the experience of receiving and sending email in terms of horsepower. Email and messaging have been conquered a long time ago and RIM has proven quite well that the current lineup of processors is adept at it. But going back to the original point, there has got to be a reason why RIM didn’t beef up their high-end Torch. Sorry, I just inhaled my fourth cup of coffee. I talk too much sometimes. =)

              • There have been some good points on both fronts. While most end consumers probably don’t realize that the ‘current’ BlackBerry processors are 2 years old, I personally know 6 different people I work with (some IT, some not) that switched from BB to Android or iOS because their BlackBerry’s were just too slow. I’m in the same boat with my Tour, which is only about a year old. It’s not just the hardware, but the features that RIM is slow to adopt, too. My Tour doesn’t have WiFi, but the first iPhone in summer of ’07 did, so it’s not exactly a new concept. If it wasn’t for what I’ve read about the PlayBook and its ability to pair with a BlackBerry, I would have jumped ship about a month ago to give the Evo a try.

                BTW – Where is my 4G BlackBerry?!

  12. totally on point – i can just imagine a torch with a faster processor and higher res screen. i’d still be happy with the faster processor alone even if RIM still wanted to stick to the old school 480.

  13. @Sam K: What exactly is so much faster? I have a Droid X and really don’t see any spectacular speed improvements in basic smartphone functions. I’m literally playing with it side by side a Torch right now. I still don’t know what major things that Android users do with their phones that BB doesn’t do comparable. Other than maybe games.

    The fact that rim is losing market share here in the US is not a result of hardware…which is my point. Which is why it’s not an immediate problem for average joe or RIM.

    @Ronen What I’m saying is investing in upgraded hardware to re-gain market is not the answer and it would be stupid to spend money on it for that reason. Keep in mind QNX on smartphones is seemingly around the corner as well, which means the hardware upgrades become less costly.

    @haephaestus I personally think the browser is much better. How much would you say you use your smartphone browser per day? Is it really enough to require a 3-5 second improvement on page loads? a High percentage of users of ALL smartphones probably don’t even use the browser on a daily basis. Whether its iPhone/Droid or BB the browsing experience really is terrible with all the zooming etc. anyway.

    —-

    I’m looking at this whole thing from BB’s and regular users point of view. I think alot of you are thinking in terms of yourselves or “Power Users”. Which isn’t where the money is and isn’t who RIM is making phones for. And honestly neither is Apple or any of the Droid manufacturers.

    ——-

    The main question we need to ask is will Ronens proposed upgrades re-gain RIM market share? I would say No, without a doubt. So theres no chance RIM invests in that. Not yet.

    • Here are a few things that Android users can do that is difficult and/or costly to do on a Blackberry (as a consumer):
      - IMAP folders access
      - PGP Encryption
      - S/MIME Encryption
      - Use little Flash helpers on websites

      I’m sure other people will list more.

    • devguy, if you read my post I was comparing a Storm2 to a Droid X. There’s a very big difference in speed between the 2. There are many times I would hourglass on a Storm2. That almost never happens on the Droid X. Also the Storm2 doesn’t have the webkit browser like the Torch and never will because it’s not getting OS 6. I also love the widgets that I can have on my home screen. I have the weather and a subway status widget that tells me if anything is going on with the NYC subway lines that I take. I also love the notification bar at the top of Android. You just drag and click on the notification. I find it to be very efficient.

      I’ll admit there are 3 things I miss from my Blackberry. First is the sound profiles that allow you to set the sounds, vibration, etc for all the functions by selecting a profile such as “silent”, “phone only”, “loud” etc. There are 3rd party apps but they don’t work that great and they only can only control certain built in functions not third party apps. Many third party apps sounds can be controlled through the Blackberry sound profiles. The second thing I miss is a true universal inbox. Android has one but it only has SMS, MMS and third party email. It doesn’t include gmail, google talk, twitter or any other IM programs. And the last thing that I miss is BBM. Kik messenger looked like a good replacement for BBM until RIM sued them and removed their access to their push service.

      • Was just trying to get you to elaborate on what was faster for the sake of the discussion. But yeah there is a difference between the Storm 2 and the Torch (I have a Storm 2 as well). I would mainly say the browser. I didn’t really have any qualms with its responsiveness personally.

  14. After being criticized that recent smartphone launches are just re-hashes of existing products, wouldn’t just shoving a CPU upgrade and higher res screen and more RAM just bring more of the same criticism?

    • Yes somewhat but RIM is way behind everybody else right now in terms of device specifications in their “flagship” device the Torch. A faster CPU and larger/higher res screen would make the Torch much better, especially the screen. Using the web browser and third party apps really benefit from the larger/higher res screen.

      I was using a Storm2 and I got a Droid X to test out. Before activating the Droid X I thought I’d eventually go back to the Storm2 but I didn’t. The speed of the processor and the larger/higher res screen are hard to give up. I’ll admit that the device is a little large but that’s what you have to put up with for the larger screen. I went to the Torch launch event in NYC and I was taking pics with my Droid X and I had a couple of iPhone users telling me that they had “screen envy”.

      I know that features sell devices not specs but better specs allow you to have more/better features and can dramatically improve the user experience.

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