BlackBerry Bold 9930

This is what happens when you try to keep one foot in the past. You’re navigating the future with one arm tied behind your back.

Someone at Verizon posted this video by accident. The phone’s not out yet. But if you own RIM stock, let this be a heads-up, sell it immediately.

Let’s see. You can keep the keyboard, now BIGGER! That’ll appeal to road warrior businessmen at the mercy of IT departments that won’t allow them to use their iPhones. Oh, don’t you know that iPhones and iPads are infiltrating corporations? You can’t keep a good thing down.

So, if you’re forced to use a BlackBerry, this one’s not bad.

But as anybody using the touted software on these devices will tell you, it positively stinks. Slide your finger across the trackpad and you’re on a completely different screen. You become so frustrated you want to throw the device against the wall.

And the tiny font… Does anybody with good eyes even use a BlackBerry? That menu that allows you to forward, respond, etc…that comes up over your e-mail. I’ve found no way to enlarge it, it’s a step backward.

As for the touch screen… That’s like making a scratchable CD. Yup, let’s not give up the look and feel of vinyl, let’s make CDs huge and vulnerable so people won’t be scared of new technology. Huh?

One can argue strongly that one prefers a physical keyboard to a virtual one. But if you think you’re going to win this war, you believe vent windows are coming back in automobiles. Vents disappeared when A/C became ubiquitous, and manufacturers loved the savings. Physical keyboards impinge on screen real estate. Yes, Palm tried a slide-out version with its Pre, but it was criticized as tiny and flexible, a toy.

You can’t do both.

If RIM were smart, and it’s not, it would focus on the one thing it does best, e-mail. Sell its e-mail service for other phones. Yes, you can get this experience if you’ve got an exchange server. Ever speak to someone with an iPhone and an exchange server? Service is awesome.

We’re going to touch screen phones sans keyboards. But e-mail on the iPhone and Android can be iffy. Instead of fighting an unwinnable battle, RIM should enhance e-mail on these devices. Otherwise they’re TiVo fighting the DVR. TiVo is better, if only they’d licensed their IP at a low cost and made money, instead of resorting to lawsuits and ending up with a shrinking customer base.

Meanwhile, the dirty little secret of what’s selling phones today is apps. And BlackBerry’s got few and they don’t work so hot. And try navigating them on the tiny touch screen of the Bold 9930. You’d almost think this video was posted to Funny Or Die. When the guy touch navigates the camera I about burst out laughing. You expect me to DO THAT!

Let this be a lesson to you. If you want to survive, look in only one direction. The future. Trying to placate past customers is what got the record business in trouble. Believing their clients were Wal-Mart and other physical retailers as opposed to end users who can now be marketed to directly. It’s like Fisher Body placating buggy whip companies. It’s like HP refusing to develop inkjet printing, keeping us all in the dot matrix world because we’re inured to typewriter ribbons. Huh?

And what is flabbergasting is the mainstream press falls for all this. Doesn’t call a spade a spade. If you don’t think the BlackBerry is toast, you still expect Vanilla Ice to make a comeback. Or Shaggy. Or Rebecca Black.

One hit and they’re done.

RIM’s one hit was mobile e-mail. Maybe they can drill down and survive on this, but it’s doubtful. To believe a device that’s good at mobile e-mail and nothing else will survive and triumph is to believe that the RAZR is today’s perfect phone. And look what happened to Motorola.

You can’t surf future trends by being beholden to the past. Apple killed the floppy and has almost killed the hard disk and is doing a good job of killing the CD/DVD. And Apple is the second most valuable company in America and the record companies, supposedly purveyors of the cutting edge, are being sold at fire sale prices, run by septuagenarians like Doug Morris who believe more Top Forty hits can solve everything.


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