The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is finally real. There was plenty of speculation out there, about whether or not the next generation BlackBerry device would be anything to get excited over, and then RIM took some time out of their busy schedule to announce the latest version of their tried-and-true design, the Bold 9900. The handset doesn’t break any ground in the design department, nor does it look any different (generally speaking) than pretty much every other BlackBerry device that came before it (especially recently). But, it’s got people all excited, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
At Research In Motion’s BlackBerry World, the company pulled the curtain off the frequently leaked BlackBerry 9900. Not surprisingly the handset still features a relatively small display and right below it that world famous hardware keyboard. The old motto “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” seems to be one that RIM refuses to shy away from, and as long as it keeps working for them why should they? Of course, they did make some changes under the hood: you’ve now got a 1.2GHz processor under the hood and thanks to BlackBerry 7 support for Liquid Graphics. There’s a 5MP camera around back and 8GB of memory tucked away inside. So, while not a stand-out amongst other high-end devices featuring other platforms, it’s certainly a beast of a phone when compared to any BlackBerry device before it.
So, why am I not excited about it? Let’s face it; I think Research In Motion is one of those companies that have it. They really do. They’ve got all the materials and elements they need to make some killer phones, and I know that they’ve got some killer ideas floating around in the many braincases present within RIM. But unfortunately, none of those things are coming out into the real world. Even at BlackBerry World, where everyone was expecting the BlackBerry 9900 and the BlackBerry Monaco (the full touchscreen device), RIM only delivered one. And if the Monaco is really featuring the specifications it is, then the Monaco should have been the device the company premiered.
But, that’s just one of the reasons I don’t want the 9900. I’ll admit that I love the hardware keyboard on a BlackBerry. After all, there’s no denying that they’re some of the best, if not the best, available on the market. But, I don’t actually aim to have a physical keyboard. I think that’s part of the purchasing decision, yes, but then when I look at everything else with the device, the hardware keyboard (no matter how good it is) isn’t going to sway me one way or another.
Unfortunately, what does is the fact that there’s BlackBerry 7 on the 9900. I don’t agree with RIM’s strategy with their mobile OS anymore. We know that QNX Software is coming to the company’s smartphones sometime in the future (forget that we were expecting some elements of the BlackBerry PlayBook-specific mobile OS on the 9900 or Monaco now), but BlackBerry 7 seems like a step backwards to me. Especially considering there’s no legacy support. What BB 7 shows me, is that when QNX eventually makes its way to RIM’s smartphones, it’s going to be an entirely different OS, and those devices with BB 7 will be stuck with that, with no chance of moving “forward.”
Yes, RIM has made some great decisions in the recent past. They’ve acquired companies like TAT and Torch, and obviously their move to grab up QNX Software has worked well to differentiate the company within the tablet market. But, nothing is happening with these companies yet. At least, not to the general consumer. I’m expecting so much from Research in Motion that perhaps it’s becoming impossible for the company to actually fulfill those aspirations. This is unfortunate, because I want nothing but good things for the company, especially if the Monaco ever comes to market. The 9900 is a great BlackBerry device. Hands down, it’s the best one that RIM’s ever created. But when the competition is as tough as it is right now, and the high-end devices out there blow the 9900 out of the water comparatively, I’m just not interested in spending my money on a device like that.
But, enough of what I don’t want. What about you? Is the BlackBerry Bold 9900 going to be your next handset? Or is the Monaco still on your radar? And if you’re skipping over a BlackBerry for something else, why?