I, along with everyone else who has ever been a BlackBerry fan, have been intently watching every move made by Research In Motion as of late. They've been operating on a slippery slope and gradually losing more and more traction within the mobile realm. It seems as if no matter what they do, no matter how much time and effort they fuel into their latest products, they're a few days late and a couple dollars short.
The biggest news to come from the Waterloo-based company in a long time was the CEO shift from last week. I may believe that Thorsten Heins is not the right man for the job, but a (somewhat) fresh face is a welcomed change nonetheless. It's worth giving him the benefit of a doubt.
In terms of devices, the last thing we have heard or seen from the BlackBerry camp was a render leak of the upcoming BlackBerry London, sporting a fresh BlackBerry 10 interface and P'9981-like Porsche design. With silver brushed metal accents and angled corners, the first glimpse of the London was a sure to be a hit or miss with consumers – not everyone will be a fan of the retro Delorean look.
Yesterday evening, Mr. CrackBerry himself, Kevin Michaluk, uncovered a nice tidbit of information that was buried in a slide of an unknown presentation. The information to the left of the slide reads:
But, clearly, the important part of the slide is what's pictured to the right: a new and improved BlackBerry London. Instead of the Porsche-like design we saw before in the London, this render more closely follows RIM's recent design scheme and looks like a smaller PlayBook with a few, slight changes, like default orientation and bezel to screen ratio.
There was, however, no direct mention of specs, only that they're "rich" in both hardware and software. Back with the first London render, the rumored specs were: a 1.5GHz TI OMAP dual-core processor, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front shooter, 1GB RAM and 16GB built-in storage. It's safe to assume nothing has changed, just that the PorscheBerry London was a fake, another Porsche design (like the P'9981 is to the Bold 9900) or something else entirely. If, in fact, these specifications are correct – or at least on par with what the London eventually will launch with – the London will be the first BlackBerry to be on par with the competition in recent years.
To be completely honest, I would buy one. I really like the design of this phone. There are only a few things I would change about it, like a little less bezel and a little more screen. (Usable display space is a little more important than ginormous BlackBerry branding on the face, no?) Other than that, specifications seem decent and the phone looks quite slender. But most importantly, it features BlackBerry 10, which will ultimately be the determining factor in whether or not RIM's hard work and acquisitions in 2010 and 2011 will have paid off.
To clarify, I would buy a BlackBerry London ... if it were out now. But the last we had heard, BlackBerry 10 devices will not be making their grand appearance until "late 2012." If we look to last year as a reference for how fast innovation happens in the mobile world, devices and new technologies launch every couple months. And devices that are high-end now might be mid-range in two month's time.
Late 2012 is a broad time frame, but is no less than seven to 11 months away. By then, quad-core Android phones will undoubtedly have launched, the iPhone 5 (we assume) will have hit and likely a slew of new Windows Phones (including more sexy Nokia-made devices). I'm willing to bet that very few will be left wondering what the London (or the US-based Laguna or Lisbon) entails then.
As a long-time fan, I've been pulling for RIM, deep down inside. And I want nothing more than for Heins to pull them out of the slump they've been in. But latency like this isn't going to do it. It's a long-term game and RIM has shown that they can at least maintain their presence internationally, if not in the US. But I want to see a resurgence of BlackBerry in the States and a BlackBerry 10 device in late 2012 with early 2011 specs isn't going to do it. They're perpetually behind and there's no way the London will leapfrog any competing devices.
What say you, folks? Does the London look or sound like a device that would interest (or re-interest) you in BlackBerry? Will you care about the London anymore by late 2012? Would you buy one if it were available today?