Last week, Research In Motion's next iteration of devices were announced and will be making their way to a carrier near you in the not too distant future. Finally touting some decent specifications that BlackBerry fans have been (im)patiently awaiting for ages now, the devices were met with more fanfare than I have heard from the BlackBerry camp in a good three years. The Torch 9810, 9850 (9860, too) and 9900 all sport 5-megapixel cameras, small to mid-sized touchscreen displays and seemingly snappy 1.2GHz processors. But one thing these 'Berrys will be toting at launch that could ultimately be the death of them is the software: BlackBerry 7 OS.
RIM is currently in the process of transitioning away from their previous operating system and implementing software from the handful of companies they have acquired over the past year. Companies like QNX, The Astonishing Tribe and Torch Mobile have been brought together to compose a concoction of a mobile platform. So what exactly is the problem?
These upcoming BlackBerry devices already have an expiration date – Q1 2012 – and this time around it isn't because of the breakneck pace of mobile technology and innovation. According to Business Insider, it was confirmed by a Research In Motion representative, that these few BlackBerry 7 devices will not be upgradeable to QNX once it arrives.
Nobody really knows how far away QNX is; I would guess at least a year ... or more (RIM isn't exactly known for being quick to get anything to market). If this is true, it would give devices like the 9810 and 9900 to truly shine for a while before being cast into the depths of obsolescence. However, Boy Genius Report is claiming the first QNX toting BlackBerry, the Colt, is slated to hit the market sometime during the first quarter of next year. (Of course, your normal dose of NaCl should be taken with this rumor du jour.) If this pans out, it means that the BB 7 devices will have barely hit the market before the next generation comes along to put them to shame.
Too soon, RIM. Too soon.
As you all probably know, I cannot wait for the 9900, despite its inevitable expiration date. That said, I am not your average consumer. I used to be among the most devout BlackBerry fans and followed the Montana and Magnum rumors closely. For the 9900 to finally be official and making it to shelves is something I cannot pass up. I just pray RIM didn't make me wait four years for a botched phone.
Average consumers, on the other hand, may not be so eager to jump. Knowing that software updates are limited and will soon be cut off isn't exactly enticing. Steve Kovach of Business Insider insists that what RIM is doing is similar to "Apple telling iPhone 4 owners they won't be able to upgrade to iOS 5 unless they buy an iPhone 5." He's right and I suspect the majority of customers will simply pass on BlackBerry 7. Or RIM will face an angry mob of QNX-hungry users stuck on BlackBerry 7 – the ones that didn't do their homework first.
What say you, pups? Will you pass on BlackBerry 7? Or will it serve as a sufficient stepping stone to QNX, despite being so close together? Is RIM shooting themselves in the foot ... again?