Last Updated Aug 3, 2010 7:28 PM EDT
It's hard to tell overly much from initial impressions of the tech savvy who have their hands on the product, but early word back is that BlackBerry 6, while decent enough, isn't anywhere near the level of breakthrough that RIM needed to beat back both Google and Android. Look at some of the aspects that the company stressed during its product launch:
- The new OS finally has a WebKit-based browser. That's the same WebKit that Apple created, used in Safari, and turned open source, and that Google used in Chrome.
- A number of news, information, and music apps come with the phone, and there's an app store. So far, still in third place.
- There's a touch screen, available after being standard issue on RIM's two main rivals for ... years.
- A 5 megapixel camera and flash is nothing startling.
- Search everything on your phone from one tool, which sounds like the Android Quick Search Box, available since version 1.6.
On one hand, OS 6 is a much better UI leap from OS 5 than OS 5 was to OS 4, but it still feels a bit not thought out. On the other hand, the device seems like it will continue to excel at specific functions, mainly email, any sort of text-based messaging, etc. My personal thought so far is: this is a stop gap device for current BlackBerry users-- and that's an issue. iPhone 4 or recent Android owners won't be lusting after the 9800, and that's never a good thing.It's not as though RIM is the only one in this predicament. A couple of weeks ago, reviewers got their hands on an advanced copy of Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Phone 7. The verdict? Good, but not good enough to be a dual iPhone and Android killer. And, frankly, the reviews of Windows Phone 7 -- granted, the reviewers didn't focus on the prototype hardware -- were largely far stronger than what RIM faces.