Todays Best Smartphones Have Beautifully Designed Touch-Screens

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-04-01 Print this article Print


And that, in short, is the problem. RIM came late to the whole touch-screen concept, and when it tried, it did a lousy job of it. So it tried again and then again. The touch-screen on the PlayBook was great (too bad the product was half-finished on launch). The touch-screen on the 9900 is really nice, but how long have these interfaces been out? For years? BlackBerrys are only now getting there.

But even now, the things that I like about the Bold 9900, the nice keyboard, the push delivery for email, the easy setup and the performance, aren€™t the things that most users have as their highest priority. I use my BlackBerry as an important part of my business, but I don€™t use it for recreation, for reading, browsing the Web or any of the other things that people want in their smartphones. I have an iPad for that.

So while RIM did a very nice job of delivering exactly what I wanted in a messaging device, it didn€™t deliver what the world wanted in a smartphone. The company just kept delivering the same old thing, over and over. When I hold this new BlackBerry smartphone in my hand, the experience isn€™t all that different than it was when I first held a BlackBerry, back in the days when it was little more than a very effective two-way pager with a click-wheel.

Worse, even when RIM did have the right answer, it failed to execute or it failed to understand the market. Or both. How else do you explain the PlayBook with its wonderful hardware and barely functional OS? How do you explain the continued failures of the BlackBerry servers that led to global mail and messaging delivery outages? How do you explain the delivery of what RIM hoped would be BlackBerry€™s best OS yet, but allowed BBOS 7 to arrive with few functional apps or with features that didn€™t work until a major upgrade months later?

Through this combination of failures, RIM not only discouraged sales to new users in an incredibly hot market, but it sent the message to its existing users that the company couldn€™t be depended on when they needed it the most. Now, as a BlackBerry user for years, I have to ask myself what€™s next. Will I need to change my business to work with another mobile platform? Should I tough it out and hope that RIM survives in some form?

And if the time comes to change, to what platform should I move my business? All have their compromises, as does RIM.

Should I choose Apple? It will integrate with my existing email services, and I can sync it with Outlook. But I haven€™t found a good way to perform mass deletes of those hundreds of emails I get every day, but don€™t want to read. Besides, none of the carriers that have iPhones actually service the area in the suburban wilderness just outside Washington, D.C., where I live and work.

Should I choose Android? If so, how will I know which of the nearly infinite varieties of this fragmented OS will be supported and updated over the years? And how will I know which device gets past the shoddy build quality that seems to affect so many of these devices?

Or maybe Windows Phone 7? As nice as those Nokia phones are, and as slick as the interface is, it still doesn€™t let you sync with Outlook. That eliminates it from the running.

So, perhaps, the only answer is to hope that Heins and RIM can get their acts together, learn to innovate and execute, and keep the company alive and growing. Maybe they can.

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Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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