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Summary:

There have been a lot of reviews lately regarding the new Blackberry Storm. I summarized a few myself, but things haven’t improved much. While there are some bright spots, the overall tone of the reviews is that the Storm is a disappointment. Still, as a Blackberry […]

There have been a lot of reviews lately regarding the new Blackberry Storm. I summarized a few myself, but things haven’t improved much. While there are some bright spots, the overall tone of the reviews is that the Storm is a disappointment.

Still, as a Blackberry on the Verizon network I suspect it’ll do fine regardless. Instead of dwelling on the reviews, I want to disagree with comments I’ve read that say RIM should be cut some slack because it’s a 1.0 product, which makes it the same as the iPhone’s initial release. 

No, not at all. RIM had it easy.

From the moment it was announced, while Apple faithful may have believed, most outlets spent time mocking the iPhone. Greasy screen! Fingerprints! Car crashes because you can’t drive and text at the same time! Won’t be able to dial in bright sunlight! And on and on. Most of them were kind of silly, and a few were downright asinine. 

People’s memories can be short, so let’s go back in time and look at what Apple had to overcome with the iPhone. 

  • They had to drag people kicking and screaming into the modern age of using a GUI and pointing device (like on a computer) on a phone. 
  • They had to convince people that lacking all those buttons would actually be a better way, because each app would have it’s own interface; you wouldn’t see crap you couldn’t use when you couldn’t use it. 
  • They had to hammer the point home that in the modern age a phone app doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a text-based app from computers in the early 80s. Instead, they could be much more “desktop-like.”
  • They had to show that you could in fact do excellent web browsing on a phone via not only a quality browser, but through the use of gestures and software enhancements. (Hard to believe that only 1.5 years ago people thought WAP browsing was acceptable!)
  • And they had to prove that Apple could in fact build and sell a phone. (In doing so, they showed the reason current phones were crap was because carriers and phone makers had zero incentive or imagination to make them better.) 

Even with all that to overcome, upon release the iPhone’s first wave of reviews was much better than what we’re seeing for the Storm now. Yet look at what RIM did not have to overcome for the Storm: 

  • All of the above. 

That’s right. RIM had none of those obstacles, nor legions of doubters. People now know you can use a phone with a full touch screen, and get better apps, and browse the web, and be easier to use, etc. And no one questioned RIM’s ability to make and sell a phone.

Therefore, the Storm launch is not anywhere near the same as the iPhone launch. Apple paved the way, so RIM should have had an easier time of it. There was no risk, and they even had a great device available upon which to model theirs. Looks like they may not have done a good job.

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  1. James Kendrick Monday, November 24, 2008

    My review was fairly positive and my outlook after nearly a week with a Storm is still upbeat. What you are missing the point on is that RIM and the Storm are not taking on the iPhone. There is no “either/ or” mandate from anyone and there is plenty of room for multiple devices.

    This is a touch-screen Blackberry, the first. And overall a good effort for a first one. It will likely get better and it still will not be an attempt to unseat the iPhone. They are for different audiences totally.

    BTW, I love my iPhone too.

  2. James, I can’t help but wonder, though, why would you _want_ to have two devices? Wouldn’t one be better? Whenever I see someone walking around with a tool belt (2 cell phones, 2 pagers), I can’t help but wonder if they are:

    1) An IT guy who has to carry all that crud
    2) A drug dealer

    Why else not just have a single converged device, provided it can do everything well?

    Now the iPhone is not yet on par with the BB in true enterprise functionality (from a user’s perspective, it’s much closer than from IT’s perspective, in its current incarnation), but should it cross the remaining hurdles, why again would you actually want more than one device… unless for some reason you really really really must have Verizon (and in that case… there’s the caveat that you can’t travel internationally).

  3. James Kendrick Monday, November 24, 2008

    Fair question John. Fact is this is my job and I review this stuff from the standpoint of actually using it for a while. I have full voice and data plans with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile that kill me each month. :)

  4. John, I just wanted to correct you on the comment about not being able to use the BlackBerry Storm internationaly. The Storm is a quad band phone, and works in more international destinations than any ATT device.

  5. James,

    I disagree that the Storm is not “taking on the iPhone”. People are leaving Verizon for AT&T and the iPhone. It’s not a huge movement, but it’s a movement nonetheless and it’s not going the other way.

    From a Verizon standpoint I believe all they cared about was having something that appeared “good enough” as an iPhone stand-in, yet was still crippled (no WiFi) to keep everyone on their network. (The lack of WiFi is a HUGE flaw in the Storm in my opinion, and one for which it’s not criticized enough.)

    From a RIM standpoint, if they’re not taking on the iPhone there was no reason to make the Storm in the first place. The Bold is the latest, greatest, traditional BB, the BB OS was not designed for touch, and if they’re not interested in iPhone then they wouldn’t have bothered with a touchscreen at all. After all, co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said you “can’t type on a piece of glass.”

    I can’t imagine the Storm existing if not for the iPhone, and that it isn’t meant to stave off more defections to Apple, which outsold RIM last quarter.

  6. James Kendrick Monday, November 24, 2008

    Tom, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I firmly believe that all RIM and Verizon wanted with the Storm was to provide a Blackberry with a large screen for multimedia and web browsing and that’s what they’ve done. It already looks like a huge seller for Verizon and RIM so to call it a failure is premature I believe. Sure every competitor would like to “dethrone” the competition but the market is big enough for all of them.

  7. Tom, I agree with you – however, I have seen MUCH criticism over the exclusion of WiFi. It is actually the most criticized aspect.
    I do agree with you that the Storm was brought out by BB AND VZ specifically to stem the exodus to the iPhone.
    So James K, I disagree with you on that point. James P, I disagree on international travel, unless it is all business. Roaming charges are insane for data, and having no WiFi, while you can still use the phone internationally, most people will turn off that functionality for fear of insane charges and not be able to resort to WiFi when available. If your work is willing to pay those exorbitant fees, then your work is not thinking about the current economic crisis.

  8. James,

    Fair enough. However, I’d like to point out that I did not call it a failure. :-)

  9. I wish we had the Verizon network for the iPhone.

    That would be the best of all worlds. AT&T is awful.

  10. I’m glad Tom got in the final word, cause I couldn’t believe that James threw out that strawman, where he said, “to call it a failure is premature”!!!

    Honestly, is James getting paid by BB, because he sure seems to have drunk the koolaid, if Tom’s well-reasoned argument why the Storm is a direct response to Apple’s iPhone doesn’t sway him. Tom’s exactly right, the Bold is a fine BB, the Storm’s only reason for being is to satisfy some marketing wonk at BB and Verizon.

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