A New Era Coming for Blackberry

With RIM’s annual WES event starting later today we started to see announcements Monday about a new Blackberry and a new VC fund for mobile applications.

Blackberry Bold is definitely a major smartphone enhancement from the current Pearl, Curve and, most notably, 88×0 lines. Reading through the new specs, the Blackberry Bold addresses several issues that have been of concern in the past:

  • triband 3G support extends support to GPRS/EDGE/HDSPA networks
  • “push button” WiFI setup to readily access “protected” WiFi access points
  • significantly improved multimedia support – overall (streaming) video performance, iTunes synchronization, new media player, improved display
  • and, while they’re still working on it prior to the Blackberry Bold’s summer release, a new web browser.

Amongst the new specs:

  • faster processor (@ 624 MHz, the fastest Blackberry)
  • 128MB internal Flash memory but also 1GB on-board storage memory
    • expandable to 16GB via MicroSD/SDHC slot
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • GPS with Blackberry Maps
  • Blackberry MediaSync to transfer media from iTunes
  • half-VGA “ultra-bright” display (480 x 320)
  • higher capacity battery:

Of particular note; it maintains the traditional QWERTY keyboard with ergonomic improvements – a key Blackberry defining feature relative to iPhone — and is its “trackball ergonomics” their response to iPhone’s touch screen?

With its newly enhanced, high performance browser and high-resolution, ultra-bright display, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone gives users an on-the-go web browsing experience with desktop-style depiction. The trackball mimics a mouse, making it easy to navigate sites in “Page View” or “Column View” or to zoom in on specific parts of a web page, while various emulation settings allow users to choose between the full desktop-style HTML content and layout or the mobile version. Attachments can also now be downloaded from within the browser and there is support for watching streaming videos (RTSP – real-time streaming protocol).

While the official press release talks about it as a “business” smartphone, Crackberry.com reports from the WES preview day:

Target Market? There’s been a lot of talk about the target market for the 9000/BlackBerry Bold. The basic confusion to date is that it looks a bit “enterprisey”, but has a camera built-in which historically screams consumer device. What it comes down to is that RIM didn’t have an enterprise/consumer target in mind with the BlackBerry Bold. The real goal here was to build a high-end device that was the ultimate BlackBerry to date… the BlackBerry on Juice (err..Steroids)… putting WiFi/GPS/3G into one unit with a Speeeedy Processor and some More Memory. So there’s no target market per se, but there is an Appeal…and the BlackBerry Bold is going to Appeal to BOTH Enterprise and Consumers. It’ll appeal to the Business Executive and it will appeal to us Gadgetholics who just HAVE to have the best device on the market.

In addition it appears that iPhone is not the only smartphone getting VC funding support for applications. Yesterday RBC Financial, Thomson Reuters and RIM announced the Blackberry Partners Fund – $150 million “to invest in mobile applications and services for the BlackBerry® platform and other mobile platforms”. Toronto’s JLA Ventures, who have been involved in startups for over ten years, is a co-manager of the fund along with RBC Financial. Long time personal acquaintance Rick Segal of JLA talks about the fund and JLA’s role; also Rick is interviewed by VentureBeat. Rick emphasizes that mobile applications only make business sense if they run on multiple mobile platforms, including Blackberry, and that only JLA and RBC Financial will make the funding decisions with no role for RIM.

Looking forward to using iSkoot and IM+ for Skype on the Blackberry Bold. While the Blackberry Bold represents advances in device resource issues, there are still the carrier issues of network capacity, mobile VoIP call quality and unlimited data plan availability to be addressed before we see a reliable mobile VoIP client running on a smartphone.

Tags: RIM, Blackberry, Blackberry Bold, Blackberry Partners Fund, Rick Segal, JLA Ventures, RBC Financial, iSkoot, IM+ for Skype

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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