BlackBerry Creeps Towards its Mobile Future

Research In Motion

Research In Motion (RIM) has hinted towards major changes with its next-generation of BlackBerry phones, with images of revised devices and insinuations of upcoming news regarding its OS and browser offerings. From the looks of it, the BlackBerry devices don’t seem too far departed from existing phone design, so hopes are high for a BlackBerry update that makes the smart phones more competitive with the likes of iPhones and Android-supported devices.

Two new BlackBerry devices were unveiled today–the Bold 9650 and the Pearl 3G. We’ve been waiting for the BlackBerry Bold for nearly a year now, with long-awaited Wi-Fi support and a 3.2-megapixel camera. The updated BlackBerry Pearl also offers a whiff of enticement with is SureType keyboard with two configuration options, and runs BlackBerry OS 5.0.

But what about changes to the browser and the operating system? As far as smart phones go, the dedicated focus on the user experience as it mimics what we’ve grown accustomed to on the web is a recent yet already expected development. With similar shortcomings on Windows Mobile devices, it still seems that mobile app marketplaces are not high on the priority list.

As business-centric devices, BlackBerry phones have maintained a certain image for quite some time, and most departures from that image have returned bad results. RIM’s attempt at a touch screen phone fell short, and the app marketplace seems even more controlled and contrived than Apple’s.

Yet the growth of mobile app marketplaces is making the appeal of certain smart phones that much harder for consumers to ignore, and the economy that is arising as a result is making the business factors difficult for companies such as RIM to avoid.

We’ve seen a great deal of business development around the creation of consumer electronics that effectively “do it all,” especially with the emergence of the iPad, frequent updates to Android, and success stories from developers that are able to monetize the burgeoning marketplace. Ownership of that marketplace puts mobile device manufacturers and platform owners in a unique position moving forward, and RIM’s likely to not want to miss out on that.

Finding a way to do so while still maintaining its brand and loyalty to existing customers means an interesting tight rope walk in order to transition into the mobile industry’s future. Whatever updates RIM does have regarding a potential OS revamp will give greater insight as to what the company has in store.

Brodeur Partners has represented BlackBerry since 1997.

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