BlackBerry Dakota signals RIM's desperation

RIM has thrown everything but the kitchen sink into the upcoming BlackBerry Dakota as it tries to maintain market share

Images and details of the BlackBerry Dakota--the impending flagship smartphone from Research In Motion (RIM)--have emerged. The Dakota is packed with features as RIM struggles desperately to regain lost ground and compete with the Apple iPhone and the rising Android invasion.

First, let's take a look at what the Dakota has to offer. The BlackBerry smartphone is expected to have a 5MP camera with HD video recording, flash, and image stabilization. It will also have 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space. The razor thin smartphone will have both a touchscreen and the trademark QWERTY keyboard, proximity sensor, accelerometer, magnetometer, near-field communications (NFC), Bluetooth, and more. Oh, and it will launch BlackBerry OS 6.1.

Not too shabby. If it could also make breakfast and fold the laundry it would really be the total package. Of course, I don't blame RIM for trying. It is not only reasonable, but expected that RIM would try to push the envelope of design and function and develop a smartphone worthy of competing against Android smartphones and the Apple iPhone.

RIM is still leading the smartphone pack, but it has been hemorrhaging market share for some time--first to the iPhone, and now Android. RIM's once dominant market share has been whittled down to a few percentage points. The most recent comScore survey shows RIM with 33.5 percent of the smartphone market, Android edging out Apple with 26 percent, and Apple coming in a close third at 25 percent. With the launch of the iPhone on Verizon, demand for the iPhone will probably spike and jump back to number two, or possibly even leapfrog RIM to take the top spot.

Unfortunately for RIM, the dominance of the iPhone, and the ascendance of Android are formidable challenges to overcome. RIM has essentially been coasting on its former glory as the de facto smartphone and mobile communications platform for business customers. The BlackBerry culture and infrastructure still make up the backbone of mobile communications for many businesses--which may be one of the reasons that RIM is still clinging to the smartphone lead.

The upcoming PlayBook tablet seems like a potentially compelling entrant into the nascent tablet market--and one that might stand out among the hundred or so iPad wannabes. But, RIM has tried repeatedly to regain its smartphone mojo with little success.

What do you think? Can the BlackBerry Dakota compete against the iPhone 4--and the iPhone 5 that is almost certainly going to launch sometime this summer, or the massive arsenal of cutting edge Android smartphones on the market? Is there still some compelling reason you might choose BlackBerry over iPhone or Android?

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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