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BlackBerry Bold 9900 – Pontificating “Touch”

April 30, 2011

Welcome to SeriousMobile … where I try to go beyond the common BlackBerry fan-boy view of products, services, enterprise, and ecosystem.

Bold 9900 - Leak

Bold 9900 - Leak

This last week – fans including myself went nuts over – RIM mistakenly leaking the Bold 9900 on the main page, paired on the BlackBerry PlayBook. WOAH! Make no mistake, that this was intentional by RIM … maybe not the executives or the board, yet surely the silence of the mistake & no public decree that someone or a team would be investigated internally ~ the same day of the leak was the quarterly financial report.

This device … will bring some new, exciting, and tantalizing paradigm shift for BlackBerry users – both corporate and consumer; and programmers alike. Beyond just NFC, Dual-Band WLAN 802.11N (2.4 or 5Ghz A/B/G/N), Bluetooth 3.0 (? one hopes), and a delictable 2.8″ screen – a touchscreen in the size of a Bold 9000. That’s the key.

Although the design shape will noticeably take queues from the Bold 9000 – the original that spawned the current lineup of BlackBerry’s – it also reminds of the Motorola Qh due to its wide, tall, and yet flat design.

RIM BB Bold 9000 - John Mayer

Well the the great thing is this will be RIM’s 3rd touch screen device; 2 really as the Storm series was really a half-assed half-backed solution to avoiding capacitive touch.

The real question I’m pondering is this: What will a touch screen really bring to a slate full-qwerty device user?!

The Torch does well with it’s large vertical sliding screen ~ yet many still cannot deal with using it since shortcuts are limited using the on-screen keyboard (yes many are available; just not all). Having to slide open the touch screen to get at a real, powerful, effective, and efficient keyboard was frustrating at the most, tedious at the least. Not everyone will agree and fully enjoys the Torch & will upgrade to the Torch 2.

BlackBerry 8700

BlackBerry 8800

However, what real importance, what real change in use, what real power or efficiency’s will the Touch-Screen bring to the BlackBerry Bold lineup?!! The trackball ~ while a mistake in choice ~ brought about a significant change in how BlackBerry users can use their devices, the power was in daily navigation and fast menu navigation without cramping like the ol’ Track-Wheel did. The TrackPad made navigation smoother without causing massive returns in less than 6 months ownership for users and did NOT cause RIM to change its warranty for hardware (while working at BMO I’ve seen a desk drawer full of faulty Trackballs completely filled in 8 months :O ). The newer OS, BB6 refined menu’s and further enhanced the use of the TrackPad, and developers improved its use with their applications ~ taking full advantage of using top-bar Tabs instead of adding to the main BB OS menu key heirarchy. Thank you.

So how will a Touchscreen improve upon the existing, die-hard, full-qwerty traditional slate BlackBerry user?! Sure you can select icons directly, yet with such a large device will you need to refine your dexterity? How will applications change to invite the user to engage interactively for this new change? Will using 1 hand with 2 fingers to pinch zoom in/out of images be faster than using ALT key + Trackpad swipe Up/Down; especially when you’re still using two hands to accomplish both use cases? Call me confused or consider this for thought so we can possibly shock programmers minds to build better applications, and themes.

I’m looking forward to the Bold 9900 Touch but not for the capacitive touch, but the large size and what new technologies offered and how NFC will change business’ and consumers’ purchasing habits. I’m dying to see what the Bold 9780 will evolve to in the future. See you all on the upgrade path.

Bold 9900

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