Research in Motion certainly doesn't want to be left out of the action that has resulted in the explosion of smartphones, from the iPhone 3G to the T-Mobile Android G1. The company is in the process of releasing three phones -- the Pearl Flip 8220, the Bold 9000 and the Storm.
The Pearl and the Bold are discussed in this New York Times. David Pogue says that Storm, which will be offered by Verizon, is not yet ready for review. The main takeaway is that RIM is trying to create snappier devices and to appeal simultaneously to corporate users and increasingly discriminating consumers. The Bold seems a bit more corporate and, says, Pogue, and the Flip is aimed at RIM's traditional customers. He likes what he sees:
In other words, a rock-solid, corporate-dependable, e-mail-centric heart still beats inside these flashier, catchier BlackBerry models.
This Larry Dignan post at ZDNet sums up the competitive atmosphere: RIM has been performing a bit behind par in the recent past and has a lot riding on the introductions. Meanwhile, it and Apple are trying to raid the turf of the other: RIM is going after consumers and Apple wants business people to use iPhones. Dignan suggests the time between now and the beginning of 2009 will be extremely crucial for the near-term health of RIM and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Apple.
Much of this piece is a comparative review matching the iPhone to the Blackberry Bold, but its overall point is that it is still unclear what impact the looming (or already arrived) recession will have on the health of the smartphone sector. Clearly, people love these devices. But, in the final analysis, a lot of fun things may fall victim to economic conditions.
The new devices are coming fast and furious. One -- the BlackBerry Storm -- has caught the eye of this GigaOm poster, who suggests that it could be a sleeper success. It has an advanced keyboard, can easily be integrated into enterprises already supporting BlackBerries, will have full access to the fledgling BlackBerry App Store and offer more extensive background processing. It does lack Wi-Fi support, the reviewer says.
Very entertaining days are ahead. There are more smartphones from a wider variety of sources, the economic failure may push vendors and service providers to cut prices, networks are opening to a wider variety of devices. The result will be a proliferation of smartphones -- to those who still can afford them.