Should RIM skip over the BlackBerry Curve 9380?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 13, 2011

Not every phone can be a homerun. Despite how much love, care and attention goes into making a phone, not all of them can be a success. At least not at the level of success that the manufacturer hopes or wants, but that’s something that they’re fully aware of. There are some grand slams, the ones that come out of nowhere and surprise the whole world. The phone that everyone wants, the phone that will be passed around in groups and bragged about. These phones are the devices that manufacturers should hope to create every time they release a phone, unless they’ve got a specific market in mind. For example, a general high-end device, which just features the latest and greatest, is meant to wow the public. But, a device like the BlackBerry Curve 9380 isn’t meant to be that device. It’s meant to go into a specific area, to fill a particular niche, and that’s exactly what it will do.

There are still BlackBerry fans out there or fans of Research In Motion if you want to get right down to it. They still want the Waterloo-based company to turn things around, to come back fighting and start taking some of that limelight away from the major competitors in the smartphone market. They want the day to come, sooner rather than later, and with each new device that breaks the surface that hope intensifies for just a brief moment. But, more often than not, that light gets blotted out by some other high-end device from some other manufacturer.

But that’s another conversation to have on another day. Right now, we’re talking about what RIM is doing right, and that’s an easy thing to talk about with the recent leaks of the BlackBerry Curve 9380. No, it isn’t the next flagship device from RIM, and it won’t rock the socks off anyone who’s looking to get their hands on the latest and greatest when it comes to a smartphone. But with the release of this latest all-touchscreen Curve, that’s not what RIM is trying to do. The company is obviously trying to target a specific market, and with the features that the Curve 9380 packs, I can only imagine that they want to get the BlackBerry back into the hands of, well, everyone. This device, when it does launch, can’t possibly take on the same price tag as the other BlackBerry 7 OS-touting devices that the company has recently announced. Why? Because it just doesn’t have the stats to back that kind of decision up.

With its 800MHz processor, 3.25-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 480x360, and only 1GB of built-in memory, it’s not a powerhouse by any means. While the 5MP camera on the back is capable of recording in high definition, that’s not enough to warrant a price hike. And while NFC is great, it’s still a new technology that not everyone is going to adopt right off the bat, so charging extra for it will simply push people away from it, instead of promoting its usage. And finally, as was mentioned above, the inclusion of BlackBerry 7 OS should fall under the same umbrella as the inclusion of NFC: test the brand new OS in every way that you can, but make it immediately accessible. With the Curve 9380, that’s a real possibility that RIM should capitalize on.

Here’s the one thing that I think can hang RIM up, but it really is just a little thing. And that’s the fact that the Curve 9380 looks entirely way too much like the Torch 9850. I mean, just looking at the devices and you can barely tell the difference at face value. Sure, you’ll be able to see that one handset is bigger than the other, but other than that, we’re looking at the same BlackBerry-branded device. That could cause some confusion for the consumer, and confusion is never a good thing, even if it’s a minor thing like this. There seems to be some time before the Curve 9380 makes it to market, so I don’t think a few aesthetic alterations would be completely out of the question. And the only reason I’m saying make the Curve and Torch look different? Because RIM has made making devices look pretty much the same, across the whole line of devices, an art form, and I think it’s time for that to change. Spice things up a bit, and make your devices as appealing to look at, and different to boot, as other manufacturers are doing. (Or not doing, in some particular cases.)

Overall, I don’t think the Curve 9380 is an all-out bad idea. I like the fact that RIM has the company’s high-end standards tucked away inside the Torch 9850, and has the rear covered with the Curve 9380. Do you think that RIM should skip over the Curve 9380 and just focus on the high-end handsets, or do you think RIM’s strategy here is sound? Let me know in the comments below.