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RIM Releases Blackberry “Torch” 9800… Are They Back In The Game?


Today, RIM released their latest Blackberry. Called the “Torch” 9800, it combines a touchscreen with a slide out keyboard (think Palm Pre). Here’s the key facts:

The big news is that this comes with Blackberry OS 6 which brings a Webkit based web browser (think Apple iPhone), universal search functionality, social network aggregation, and WiFi-powered media sync with your desktop music collection among other things. RIM really needed a new OS as their existing OS was looking extremely dated. If you have a Bold 9700, Bold 9650, and Pearl 3G, RIM has also committed to bringing BlackBerry 6 as an upgrade to those devices too.

So, does it put RIM back in the game seeing as they’ve been losing marketshare to iPhone and Android? Yes. But that’s a qualified yes. The “Torch” doesn’t blow my mind. But the new OS makes them competitive with Android and iPhone. They’ve also fixed the mistakes that they made with the “Storm” series by adding a keyboard which is a key strength of RIM. The key weakness? The display.  When you have the iPhone (960×640) and Droid X (854×480) with much higher displays, the display on the “Torch” looks dated. RIM should have done a better job there. I think that this will stop some Blackberry addicts from defecting to other smartphones, but I think that RIM really needs to do more to really stop the bleeding.

The “Torch” 9800 is coming soon to AT&T and Rogers in North America. I’ll be in line to check it out when they arrive in stores.

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