RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 Receives Software Performance Update

RIM is pushing a BlackBerry Torch 9800 software update designed to tweak its flagship smartphone's performance.

Research In Motion's BlackBerry Torch 9800 is receiving a software update designed to speed up the smartphone's browser, application-launching, e-mail and messaging, and unlocking functions. In addition, the update will reportedly improve the device's audio quality and ability to render both media-gallery thumbnails and transitions on the home screen.

The update is scheduled to push its way onto Torch 9800s in coming weeks. However, those too anxious to wait can download it manually from this Website.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the first RIM smartphone to run the BlackBerry 6 OS, which includes features such as unified social-networking feeds, wireless syncing with DRM-free music on a PC and a Universal Search application that allows users to scan for content on both the device and the broader Web.

The smartphone's hardware, such as its sliding QWERTY keyboard, attracted positive notices from reviewers; however, some initial reviews hinted at software kinks. The new software update may be an attempt to address those concerns.

RIM reported quarterly revenues of $4.62 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2011, a year-over-year growth of 31 percent. In addition, the company posted shipments of 12.1 million BlackBerry units, an increase of 45 percent over the same quarter in 2009, and a net addition of 4.5 million net BlackBerry subscriber accounts.

Those numbers suggest RIM is managing to hold its ground in the face of aggressive competition from the Apple iPhone and from Google Android devices, which have been making inroads into BlackBerry's traditional enterprise base. RIM introduced the BlackBerry Torch 9800 in an attempt to not only provide those business users with a cutting-edge smartphone, but also appeal to a consumer demographic.

"In order to create a bulwark against incursions in their market from Apple and Google, RIM needs to expand its footprint," Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, told eWEEK Aug. 3. "RIM became the device of choice in the business market because they represented the cutting edge of that market five, six, seven years ago."

During a Sept. 16 earnings call, RIM executives suggested that the Torch 9800 was selling better than analysts believed. "We are pleased with the positive impact," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, told reporters. "Torch sell-through run rates have more than tripled in AT&T stores." However, he offered no hard numbers to counteract earlier analyst estimates that the Torch 9800 sold only 150,000 units in the weekend following its wide release Aug. 12; a September report from Morgan Stanley estimated a total of 600,000 shipped.

RIM is also preparing the PlayBook, an enterprise-centric tablet PC, to compete against Apple's iPad.