BlackBerry’s browser has stepped up to the plate for a round of fisticuffs in an InformationWeek comparative review. The contenders were the Palm Treo 755p, the BlackBerry 8300, the HTC Wing and (cue dramatic lightning) the iPhone. In the end, the iPhone ends up on top, citing big screen, full-bodied page viewing, and more prominently, eschewing the reliance on menu-based browsing as deciding factors. BlackBerry’s browser hasn’t ever received top marks for browsing, with most folks opting for Opera Mini instead. The potential for tabbed browsing in the next BlackBerry browser update is promising, but is that enough to make mobile web surfing an enjoyable rather than a bearable experience?
As much as phrases like “the interface is discoverable at a level almost below conscious thought” reek of Apple fanboyism, it can’t be denied that web browsing on an iPhone with swooshy finger motions makes sense for mobile, and chewing through long menus, a relic of the desktop interface, doesn’t.
Given BlackBerry’s chosen form factor, I could see how a more organic interface emerging. Let’s face it, right now the scrollball isn’t much more than a miniaturized d-pad. It has the full range of motion, but few applications make use of it. There’s untapped potential in that little nub, and the browser might just be the place to change that. The reviewer also harps on the importance of software, on which RIM also has a steady focus. It seems that RIM is in a solid position to make a big leap in browser software, but it probably won’t happen. Incremental upgrades is what RIM does best, and while that’s not as flashy as say, two-point touchscreens blowing the brains of the blogosphere, it’s the safest approach you can take while still remaining competitive.