The Blackberry Bold (9000) was announced last week, with a plethora of new and upgraded hardware and software features. If the Apple iPhone has done nothing else, it's causing RIM to raise its game and bring out even better devices. The net-net on the Blackberry 9000 is a beautiful 480x320 display, 3.5G / Bluetooth / GPS network support, upgraded apps, better media / music apps, and iPhone-ish stylized case. An iPhone killer? No, but it's feature and upgrades are rich enough to keep many existing or new Blackberry users happy, and possibly stave off running down to get the new iPhone 3G this year... maybe.
Even though the 9000 is upgrading network support and adding some shiny new stuff, Blackberry knows those aren't the features that ultimately makes PDA phone users happy. It's the unsung, basic features that Blackberry does very well that make the difference. 3 months ago I moved from a Windows Mobile 6 device to my Blackberry World Edition phone. Wow, what a difference. After having been away from using a Blackberry device for some time, I was so impressed with how well the software and hardware was suited to using the device as a phone, email, contact and calendaring device. Here's what Blackberry does extremely well, and what they need to fix, in my opinion.
Blackberry rocks at...
1. It's a great phone. Call quality is stellar, and reliable.
2. It's all about email. Next to being a great phone, any PDA has to be a great email device. RIM get's it right here as well. Email reading, replies, and composition is easy. Looking up email addresses is a breeze. The Search works great. Emails of a reasonable length are easy to compose and send. And it seems most times, I get emails on my Blackberry before they show up in my Outlook Inbox. Exchange integration is superb. When on the road, I can do most of my email on my Blackberry, reducing my reliance on Outlook.
3. Productivity - It knows what I want to do. RIM has really learned the use cases behind a PDA device and implemented these in their software. My Blackberry knows that I probably want to dial the extension in my contact database in addition to the phone number. The default menu selection is usually the one I want when I'm cruising around my phone, contact, email and calendar applications. As a product designer myself, I really appreciate what RIM has done with incorporating productivity into the design of their software.
4. Great keyboard. If I'm doing email, I'm going to want to type. Even though my Samsung 760i WM6 device had a nice slide out keyboard, the Blackberry keyboard beats it hands down. It's a breeze to use, I don't fat finger the wrong keys, and it's hands down easier to use than the iPhone's on screen touch keyboard. RIM gets keyboards.
5. All the other wiz bang stuff my Blackberry does is gravy. And that's how it should be.
What Blackberry really needs to fix...
1. HTML email - Folks, so much of the email I receive is HTML, not just plain text. I'm really tired of scrolling through HTML emails to get past long URLs and dig for the content. I haven't seen anyone talk about whether HTML email is supported in the software app upgrades of the Blackberry 9000. I hope so. Join the century and support HTML emails.
2. We need a GREAT web browser. Check out the iPhone's Safari browser. Now, there's a great mobile web browser. That's what we need. All other mobile browsers pale in comparison and really look long in the tooth. Plus, I find the current web browser barely usable.
3. Careful with the side buttons. Though voice dialing is a feature I frequently use, I'm constantly bumping the side button that starts up voice dialing. It happens in my pocket, my backpack and when holding the device. Annoying. Very annoying.
4. More voice control. I can't always look at or type on my Blackberry. That doesn't bode well for avoiding driving accidents. I'd like more voice control over my Blackberry. iPhone touch screens are even worse for avoiding driving accidents. Now... if they had a built in radar detector... hmm.