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Monday, May 12, 2008

Blackberry Bold No Threat to iPhone Market

Research in Motion, Ltd. (NSDQ:RIMM) has unveiled the new Blackberry Bold.

Blackberry Bold iPhone.jpg


While they may not do it on the floor of Blackberry's Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Florida this week, analysts will no doubt compare the Bold to the iPhone in an attempt to determine market acceptance. Real comparisons will have to wait until the Bold is available at telephone retail outlets. The 3G Apple iPhone will probably arrive in stores ahead of the Bold, my sources tell me.

Sporting dual-band WiFi Internet access, 3G network access, and a higher-resolution screen, the Bold is obviously designed to prevent some Blackberry users from defecting to the more stylish iPhone. Non-business users of Blackberry phones are unlikely to be too impressed with these features. Despite all efforts to attract the eyes of new buyers, the Bold still fails to match the stylish appearance and amazing touch screen functions of the iPhone.

No doubt Research in Motion intended to upstage Apple with this new model, also known as the 9000. Like Apple, RIM also indicated it will support application development efforts for this new device.

According the venerable Nielsen ratings service, 87 million U.S. cell phone users subscribe to some type of mobile Internet service though only 13.7% of those subscribers actually use it each month.

A shiny border and a sharper screen will still not overcome a primary issue for mobile internet device software developers: screen size. The people that design software user interfaces treasure screen real estate. That fact will never change.

When I send my Blackberry-carrying clients photos of their factory interiors, newly-built conveyor lines, and software error messages, they still must download the image to a laptop computer to study it. I usually get feedback from them the next day. Clients using the Apple iPhone get back to me in minutes with revisions, suggestions, and comments.

When your factories cost millions to build and operate daily, minutes can be worth thousands of dollars or euros. Sub-contractors left waiting days for a decision may not seem like a big extra cost, but we are just that. Construction errors left uncorrected can cost even more over the long term.

Style and screen size may not seem like a big deal to those eager to defend Blackberry's important business features. The ability to wipe a stolen Blackberry clean, use Microsoft Windows Live services, and the keyboard remain as important features. However, pictures are still worth at least a thousand words. All the agile thumbs in the world cannot change that.

Links:

CNN article
Fortune article
Multichannel.com article

Note: The author recommends and implements technology solutions in businesses large and small. At different times throughout the year he holds equity in various technology firms including those mentioned in this article.

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