RIM’s vice-president of commercial relations for Europe, Rick Constanzo, while speaking at the London launch of the BlackBerry 7130g for 02, had some very interesting thing to say about dual mode (i.e. GSM and Wi-Fi enabled) phones. Confirming that RIM had investigated the technology, Constanzo said: “We won’t launch something that’s half-bakedâ€¦ It has got to be darn easy to use or it will fail.”
Citing the ability to “hide complexity away from the end user” as a major factor in the BlackBerry’s success, Constanzo suggested that dual-mode phones, which are intended to be able to switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and GSM-based networks during calls, are not yet a suitably developed proposition. He also cited battery life as a concern.
However, representatives from BT, which has its Fusion dual-mode Wi-Fi phone coming out in the summer, don’t buy that for a second.
“[Fusion] will become a far more mass-market product when it becomes Wi-Fi enabled,” a BT spokesman said. “It’s extremely easy to use â€” the technology does the work for you,” he said, adding he did not think the battery life was any worse than on many other mobile devices.
Seeing as most devices released in Europe with dual-mode functionality have that functionality removed upon release in North America, we’re thinking the real hold-up on the technology is that carriers haven’t found a way to make money off of it yet. Constanzo’s comments probably reflect RIM’s strong relationship with North American carriers (which, by the way, is necessary to their survival).