So it seems as though 2009 will be the year of the upgrades. The following devices are rumored to hit shelves before 2010:
- The BlackBerry Onyx aka Bold 9700
- The BlackBerry Storm 2 9520
- The BlackBerry Essex
- The BlackBerry “Striker” 9100 (rumor probably has the codename wrong)
Lets take a quick look at each device, so you can see why 2009 should be dubbed “The Year of the Upgrades.” While these devices haven’t launched yet, and nothing is final, there are a variety of features that I would like to see ship with these devices, to truly add a great leap forward element for the device.
The BlackBerry Bold 9700
The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is essentially the Bold 2. It’s a slightly improved version of the Bold spec wise, but also in form factor. The Bold 9000, while it is in my opinion the flagship device of RIM, is a little bulky for today’s standards. The Bold 9700 addresses this and packs everything into a smaller form factor with minor improvements. Like all the devices I’ll describe, they are really great additions to the RIM product line, but we’re not seeing anything too revolutionary. I would definitely recommend this device to a Bold owner, but I would also like to see RIM raise the bar just a little higher.
My recommendation: For each device, add a feature that appeals to the target market of that device. The Bold 9700 is clearly aimed at the enterprise market, and therefore I would love to see the device ship with a feature that would appeal to the CEO and VP level users. This feature should have been a front facing camera. A CEO should be able to have a video conference with employees or clients on the go and a front facing camera would enable this. In general, a CEO on a BlackBerry 9700 should feel ahead of the competition and have access to a mobile office.
The BlackBerry Storm 2 9520
The BlackBerry Storm 2 is a huge improvement on the BlackBerry Storm 1. The device is faster, more responsive and the new touch interface makes typing much easier. Also, the multi-touch functionality adds a lot of potential for developers. That being said, it isn’t a huge jump from the Storm 1. Users who purchased the Storm 1 when it first launched, should have been purchasing what will be the Storm 2.
What it should have shipped with? OpenGl support. The Storm 2 is the ultimate consumer device and consumer apps are going to get bigger and graphically more intense. With a OpenGL support, developers can create new and innovative applications as well as creative user interfaces.
The BlackBerry Essex
The BlackBerry Essex is the Tour 2. The updates to the Tour include WiFi as well as a Curve series style keyboard. Again, this device is a great addition to the product line, but it could have shipped with a feature designed to really drive sales.
The Tour is a World Phone and a consumer device. The target market for this device is therefore somebody who loves rich media on their device, but also travels a lot. The recommended feature for this device is therefore an internal compass. While a BlackBerry has the ability to calculate True North using GPS, you have to have certain inputs in order to do so. With direction, longitude and latitude, you can calculate True North, but this creates some barriers for developers. An internal compass would allow for augmented reality applications, which would come in handy for the traveling consumer.
The BlackBerry 9100 “Striker”
While nothing is really known about the 9100, we’re expecting updates shortly. We do know that this will be the updated BlackBerry Pearl and I can bet you that, like all these other devices, it will be slightly upgraded in terms of performance as well as form factor, but nothing to really brag about.
While I can’t be certain because again, this device hasn’t surfaced, I can guess that it won’t have a tremendously better camera. This is the recommended feature for a BlackBerry Pearl user. A Pearl user target market is a consumer who likes a small and compact form factor. This user would benefit tremendously from a really nice camera and video setup. A camera setup much like the N97 would be a welcomed feature. The Pearl 9100 would ideally come with a 5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, LED flash, video light and VGA at 30fps.
So there you have it. All the devices we will see in 2009 are updates of previous versions without anything absolutely major included. The above are my recommendations for features that would really drive home the launch of each device and get the community excited. Again, while none of these devices have launched and things can and likely will change come launch date, I seriously doubt anything I’ve mentioned will be coming soon.