Blackberry 9700 isn't all that bold

While it does offer some improvements over its predecessor, the new BlackBerry Bold 9700 fails to innovate.

BlackBerry is rolling out the Bold 9700 which will be available from T-Mobile and AT&T. For T-Mobile and AT&T customers who are Blackberry devotees, this is great news. For the rest of the smartphone market it is more or less not news-- at least not compared with more innovative device that have been introduced lately.

For starters, the Bold 9700 doesn't offer much in the way of innovation. It's sort of a Bold 9000 on a diet, or a BlackBerry Curve on steroids. It has a slimmer design than its predecessor-- the Bold 9000, as well as an improved 3.2 megapixel camera. Arguably the most innovative feature is the switch from the BlackBerry trackball to an optical trackpad for navigation.

T-Mobile customers have a little bit more to be excited about. The Bold 9700 will be T-Mobile's first 3G capable BlackBerry device, and also the first device to support seamless calling over Wi-Fi. The ability to place calls over Wi-Fi will be lacking in the AT&T Bold 9700.

The Bold 9700 seems like a more-than-capable device, and a welcome incremental upgrade for Bold 9000 or BlackBerry Curve users. Fans of BlackBerry who are T-Mobile or AT&T customers, either by preference or because of contractual obligations, and have felt spurned by BlackBerry now have a device to help deal with Storm (and now Storm 2) or Tour 9630-envy.

In the grand scheme of things though, the Bold 9700 adds little to the smart phone mix. Compared with innovative, headline-making devices like the Verizon Droid, the Motorola Cliq, or Windows Mobile 6.5 devices like the HTC Pure, the BlackBerry Bold 9700 will probably be of little interest outside of existing BlackBerry fans who are also existing customers of T-Mobile or AT&T.

The smart phone market revolves around the iPhone right now. Every device manufacturer wants to capture the hearts of customers the way Apple has managed to. Every device wants to be the iPhone-killer. One can argue that it seems silly to try so hard to beat the number 3, going on number 4 mobile operating system-- but the iPhone has an x-factor that other devices are still lacking (with the possible exception of the Droid which we haven't really seen in action yet).

Bottom line: the Bold 9700 doesn't add anything to the iPhone war, or even the battle for smart phone market share. In the shadow of the Droid, Cliq, and other emerging devices, the Bold 9700 is almost a non-story.

Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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