I’ll be iBold enough to say that, applying physics terminology so much appreciated by RIM’s co-CEO, Blackberry Bold will reduce the half-life of the iPhone in the business and prosumer market by an order of magnitude.
Tuesday evening I attended RIM’s annual shareholders meeting in Waterloo at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, initially funded by RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaradis. A full house in the lecture theatre, including many RIM managers, all the Waterloo Region residents who had invested in RIM and the usual assortment of analysts and media. Full disclosure; this was my eleventh RIM AGM – the last ten as a shareholder of a minute quantity. More importantly RIM has become one of the most highly capitalized companies in Canada, competing with the Royal Bank for highest market capitalization on the Toronto Stock Exchange. RIM is to the Canadian technology scene what Nokia is to Finland and Skype to Estonia. From numbers heard at the AGM about 7,000 of their close to 10,000 employees are Canadians.
I attend each of these meetings, not simply to catch up with some acquaintances who participate, but mainly to listen to co-CEO Mike Lazaradis’ overview of the RIM’s technology and platform development. He has a way to articulate the technology within the framework of the the end user experience, developer program requirements, five nines availability, battery life, carrier benefits and other factors that have lead to their success. Coming out of the presentation, which largely focused on the forthcoming Blackberry Bold, I learned about:
- the Bold’s high-resolution (HVGA 480 x 320) display with a widescreen format and integrated lens technology.
- the new Blackberry browser (yes, you can flick your thumb to zoom without leaving thumb oil on the display cover)
- a new Clock application, complete with “bedside” mode; the picture to the right only gives a hint of what’s in store here.
- Blackberry Unite! allowing families, “friend groups”, and workgroups to communicate and share in many ways beyond voice and text via their Blackberries and desktops
- Blackberry Bold’s true GPS (that works with navigation software) but most importantly not only supports A-GPS to faciliate in-building location but also offers “Fast GPS Fix Times” – traditionally an issue with most GPS-based navigation devices.
- the extent of the Blackberry Enterprise platform that includes not only desktop (email/PIM) activities but also voice systems that allow your Blackberry to become simply an extension of the enterprise phone system, intranet web services involving SAP, Oracle IBM Websphere and all the current web services platforms and protocols and, finally, integration with real time enterprise collaboration services such as Lotus Sametime and MS Live Communication Server.
- Blackberry’s security validations with NATO and several national governments
- Blackberry Partners Fund to finance third party software development partners.
- The extent of Blackberry’s Developer programs with both prosumer general use offerings (via, say, Handango) and vertical enterprise applications.
- On the personal entertainment side, Blackberry’s new Media Sync creates a direct connection between your iTunes music collection and the Blackberry. (and will also be made available to all Blackberry devices with a media card – Pearl, Curve, 88xx – through both a firmware and desktop software upgrade).
In response to one question about why RIM will continue to prosper, Mike explained how RIM now has many years of experience in dealing with the laws of physics related to understanding both the mobile and wireless environment in which they have to operate. Wireless spectrum management, rf transmit/receive technology (across 7 bands in the Blackberry Bold), an operating system optimized for wireless data devices, data management that optimizes compression while minimizing packets transported over the wireless connections with no information loss are amongst the issues that RIM understands most succinctly. It’s what has allowed them to be able to provide longer battery life, increase the rf range and provide the overall reliability required to satisfy a broader range of, especially enterprise customer, needs. Not only are the end user needs considered but also carriers have demands on minimizing bandwidth while providing quality voice and reliable data exchange. Nobody need look to any outsource supplier for key rf and chip technology information beyond the various Intel processors incorporated into the Blackberry; most of the rest is all built in-house. It is this “legacy” experience in dealing with these laws of physics that gives RIM a significant lead in its ability to offer compelling new devices such as the Blackberry Bold and to keep open a window of opportunity for unique new applications and user needs.
Following the meeting a RIM employee demonstrated to me a couple of the Bold’s features. Better at this point to reference a comment made by Boy Genius in his recent pre-release review of Blackberry Bold:
We said this before, but this really is the screen to beat. It might be a little too “contrasty” at times, if you know what we mean, but overall, it steals the show. It is the most vibrant, color-rich, sharp screen we’ve ever seen on a mobile device.
To which I can only say, Amen! An astonishingly stunning HVGA (480 x320) display approaching 200 dpi resolution. I watched a Star Wars action segment and an auto racing clip. You really have to see it to understand how impressive its HD video quality is. But then I saw how this display’s features were applied to Office documents. A complaint about previous Blackberries has been the lack of an ability to display email attachments. The Blackberry Bold not only has the capability to display Office document attachments but does it in a manner that blows away any previous “mininalist” experience with, say, spreadsheets on handhelds. You can actually do some reasonably significant spreadsheet activity on it. Having seen this I could only react by saying that this is one key feature that will sustain Blackberry’s lead in the business and prosumer markets. Apparently there is also a way to manage the display of Power Point presentations onto an overhead projector (details unknown).
And to check out one more aspect of the Blackberry ecosystem: determine what applications were available for my current Blackberry 8820, I went to Handango and selected my model.
Between the unpublicized infrastructure mentioned above for supporting the wireless-enabled enterprise and the features I saw Tuesday evening, I can only say that Blackberry Bold will significantly disrupt Apple’s efforts to enter the business market. The iPhone is left with two markets: younger generation consumers who want an expensive toy and Mac afficiandos who can use the iPhone as an extension of their Mac experience.
- Crackberry.com lists the Bold’s features and specifications.
- Crackberry.com’s reviews of Blackberry Bold.
- In a related story about carrier data plans: Score One for the Blogosphere – Immense PR Turmoil – Rogers Caves. Did prospective iPhone users raise such a fuss because the iPhone is not as efficient at handling wireless data?
Tags: Research in Motion, RIM, Blackberry, Blackberry Bold, iPhone, Mike Lazaradis, Handango, Crackberry.com, Perimeter Institute, Blackberry Unite!