A ‘Key’ Announcement from RIM: Five New Devices, All Touchscreen
Last week RIM announced 5 new Blackberry models in what amounted to a continuing shift towards touchscreen-centric interfaces. In Juniper Research’s recent report on the Smartphone market we looked in great detail at the trends in interface technology, amongst other things, and RIM’s move fits with what we are seeing. While there are compelling reasons for the continuation of some models with hard-key input, they also need to have touchscreens to compete in a market of devices increasingly centred on touch interaction. Hard-key input remains important though because the Smartphone remains a communications device at heart. While SMS traffic continues to grow, continued growth of instant messaging and social networking on the device make reliable and comfortable text input ever-important. But a phrase which struck me in RIM’s press release was ‘powerful gaming experiences’, describing the new Torch models. With mobile games being the most-downloaded of mobile apps, smartphones optimised for mobile games will provide not only a boost for RIM’s devices, but also its app store. Another key feature of Blackberry’s new models was that each includes a 1.2GHz processor, approximately double the frequency of its most-powerful, current models – and in-line with its competitors’ latest models. Again, this will provide an additional boost to the kind of gaming experience RIM hopes to provide for its users. All-in-all, this is a significant announcement for a vendor which – although not having experienced the kind of decline in Q2 shipments of another long-standing vendor, Nokia – has likewise had its market share eroded by new entrants into the market.