For now, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone and the PlayBook tablet can be perceived as Battleship RIM’s main guns as she thrashes through rough and competitive economic waters. Hopefully, as claimed by its two commanders, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille, these two ‘weapons’ will be sufficient to hold off the ongoing onslaught from hostiles such as Apple and Google, until it can retrofit in the near future with newer products to stem its leaking market share. The Playbook’s salvos had not brought much respite (RIM shipped around 500,000 units) so will new Bold fare much better to claw back some numbers territory for RIM?
Well, BlackBerry-wise, the Bold 9900 is an awesome improvement on all its previous iterations. Packing a processor that breaks the 1GHz speed barrier(1.2 GHz actually) for BlackBerry smartphones, an all new BlackBerry 7 OS and stainless steel frame defining a thickness of just 10.5mm, this phone touches new heights for BlackBerrys because it also announces RIM’s maturity in the touch control arena. Its screen is a pixel rich 640×480 capacitive touchscreen that complements a full Qwerty keyboard and responsive trackpad. On a 768MB of RAM, its GPU accelerated liquid graphics swipe, pinch and zoom navigation should please griping users of the BlackBerry Torch 9800. And yes, its browser supports HTML 5 but its camera is still 5-mega pixel although it is 720p HD capable in video recording. RIM’s forward thinking is demonstrated by the Bold’s NFC capability and voice enabled search support, as well as a plethora of radio supports; quad band GSM/EDGE, HSPA + high speed data, dual band WiFi and bluetooth 2.1 are all present. It also packs a baggage of expected sensors which includes compass, accelerometer and GPS. From the bundling of applications such as Docs To Go premium and Wikitude AR to expanding the phone’s onboard memory to 8GB(and can be increased to 32GB), RIM is clearly attempting to stay competitive across the hardware and software spaces.
However, it must be noted that as RIM’s latest hope to woo back consumers’ favor, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is not in the market as yet, and thus will not likely be competing against the likes of iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S 2. In today’s competitive arena timing can be very critical, as the release of the Bold will likely prove. If Apple’s iPhone 5 and other Android contenders were to emerge with new capabilities and features, RIM’s efforts with the Bold might just be in vain. Another point to ponder is the fact that these platforms are seriously encroaching into BlackBerry’s traditional stronghold of business and enterprise services, yet the latter’s efforts at retaliation by positioning itself as a media and gaming contender is almost ignorable. The size of the screen is unlikely to endear the BlackBerry Bold 9900 as a comparatively conducive media platform, nor will RIM’s insistence to cosmetically alter its user interface instead of a whole new revolutionary UI design convince deserters to return to the platform. If RIM must assert its BlackBerry brand as the epitome of business-centric devices, then at the very least, its smartphones should parade features and capabilities that leave rivals receding in its rear-view mirror; with the BlackBerry Bold 9900, that unfortunately will be mere wishful thinking.