Metro Weekly

RIM baking new Blackberry devices, sprinkles updated BBM on top

RIM is working hard to stop its piece of the smartphone pie from burning. Its customers are leaving, seeking forbidden fruit or an Ice Cream Sandwich or two. As its smartphone competitors continue to rise, RIM finds itself left behind, not helped by Microsoft’s attempts to usurp third-place with its Windows Phone. Even the Blackberry base, business users, are giving in to temptation and abandoning their Bolds and Torches, seeking iPhones and Galaxy devices to satiate their handset cravings. Indeed, with its share of the US smartphone market dropping to just 11 percent last year, compared with 44 percent in 2009 (according to NPD Group), RIM needs to turn its misfortune around quickly — or fear a Palm-like descent into smartphone irrelevance.

Usher in Blackberry 10, RIM’s QNX-based OS, a much-needed overhaul of its Blackberry OS that takes its cues from the smooth and modern QNX OS on the Blackberry Playbook. Not expected to launch until later this year, Blackberry 10 needs devices befitting the radical change in design language, and N4BB have scooped information on at least two of those new handsets.

The Blackberry L-Series is an all-touch device, featuring a 1280×720 resolution screen of unspecified size (only a reference to a screen width of 55mm is given) and a pixel density of 356ppi (more dense than the Retina display on the iPhone 4/4S).

The N-Series is more traditional RIM fare, with a form factor similar to the current Bold. However, the device eschews the trackpad and instead features just the hardware keyboard and the touchscreen for navigating the device. Screen resolution is 720×720, with a screen width of 52-53mm, and a dense 330ppi.

Both devices feature OLED screen technology, which is similar to Nokia’s ClearBlack displays and Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens.

N4BB has also gained information on what many consider the core feature of Blackberry smartphones — BBM. The same system Apple copied for its iMessage platform, BBM has proven a favorite amongst texting teens and business users alike, and RIM has seen fit to offer it a suitably thorough upgrade, with a visual overhaul in line with the rest of the OS. Also included for the first time are themes. RIM’s reasoning here is twofold, enabling the greater customization that users enjoy, but also deploying darker themes to take advantage of reduced power consumption on the OLED screens, which use less power for darker colors.

Details on Blackberry 10’s launch are scarce, but given the constant erosion of RIM’s marketshare we can expect a sooner-than-later strategy being employed. For news on announcements, dates and further specs on the L- and N-series handsets,  stay tuned to Technocrat.


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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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