Wired article: 5 things RIM needs to fix is a little off base

18 Comments

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Wired recently published an article entitled “5 Things RIM Needs to Fix in its BlackBerries[sic].” The article is a great read, but I’d like to address a few issues with what Wired thinks RIM needs to improve.

The article goes on to highlight the following 5 areas where RIM needs to improve:

  • Browser
  • Touchscreen
  • App Store
  • WiFi
  • Desktop Software

Overall, I’m going to wholeheartedly agree with the list. RIM can always be improving every aspect of the BlackBerry platform and the company has plans that extend well beyond our current gripes.

Generally, the article missed out on explaining how RIM came to lack the features requested in the article, and how they must go about improving the situation.

It’s always important to note that the BlackBerry platform wasn’t founded on being a consumer device. RIM fell into the consumer market almost by accident. As more consumers adopt the device, the company is now faced with satisfying two, almost mutually exclusive markets.

Take for example the browser; highlighted in the article as being something sub-par and needing improvement. You can’t disagree with this but again, why are we here? The BlackBerry platform has always been focused on delivering totally secure communication for enterprise, and the browser was secondary to this focus. While it’s possible to update this browser and offer more functionality such as the ability to download files from the browser, there is a lot to take into consideration, not just the user experience. With each feature addition, you have to asses the security risks associated with said feature because it’s paramount to the brand.

The same argument applies to many of the other items on the list. App World, the touchscreen interface and the desktop software are all features of the BlackBerry platform that are lacking from a consumer perspective. But again, we’re moving from enterprise to consumers and the enterprise is still the most important market. Do you think government organizations with 50,000+ BlackBerry devices and an IT administration department controlling device policies care about a multitouch Storm? No, they care about a secure smartphone platform, and in this respect RIM is the best in the industry.

Another issue the article mentions is WiFi. The author asks: “why doesn’t the company have Wi-Fi in all its devices?” While there are probably a lot of reasons why, two come to mind and I’m surprised the author didn’t point them out.

1) Price: Offering WiFi significantly changes the price point of a device and RIM needs to be able to offer a wide range of prices to satisfy various markets. This is why the Curve is the number 1 selling smartphone in North America. The device comes in many iterations with varying prices for every type of user.

2) Carrier relations: When the user is on WiFi they aren’t burning through data and when they aren’t burning through data they aren’t spending more money. There are clearly deals going on at the executive level to stop certain devices from having WiFi because it’s good business for the carrier. You have to play ball with the carriers to get your product out there.

Overall, the article was great but writers are quick to forget where RIM is coming from, and where their allegiance lies. The consumer market is new to them and rest assured they’re getting there, but enterprise is what made this product great and they aren’t about to compromise the founding principles of the platform.

Read the Wired article for yourself.

  • http://www.thesuggestr.com/ theSUGGESTR

    I would also add that part of the issue with their App World is that developing for the BB is more challenging and frustrating than for other environments. Having better resources and more high level APIs would make it easier for developers to build applications.

  • http://www.thesuggestr.com/ theSUGGESTR

    I would also add that part of the issue with their App World is that developing for the BB is more challenging and frustrating than for other environments. Having better resources and more high level APIs would make it easier for developers to build applications.

  • qwerty1

    They entered the consumer market 3 years ago with the Pearl. 3 years and we still have the worst browser of any smartphone in the market. The CHOSE to enter the market remember – a long time ago.

    The old excuses don’t hold up any more, Android, iPhone, Palm and now Nokia are all years ahead in terms of user experience.

    The Browser – a waste of time for anything other than basic wap sites.

    Touchscreen – hurts your fingers with too many clicks, too much pressure needed, HTC and iPhone both do it much better, The Storm release was a complete disaster, buggiest OS release to date (after the Pearl).

    AppWorld – again, a joke, Android and iPhone both have far superior experiences. Apple are rightly criticized for their bullshit decisions but Rim go the other way: how many fake memory cleaners are there in appWorld?

    WiFi – it’s just a transport layer, so no complaints there (though when it first appeared the shitty browser couldn’t keep up with throughput and stopped working – i quickly learned this kind of thing was typical)

    Desktop Software – ‘No apps were found for this device’… buggy as hell, incredibly slow.

    We’re finally getting rid of the hated trackball, the hardware is in the best shape it’s been since we lost the beloved trackwheel (can you remember devices that didn’t break? i still see people using the trusty 8700 and even occasionally the 7290).

    The OS though… the enterprise/security legacy story bought them a year but it’s 3 years now and we’re still using a buggy mess.

    What do we have to look forward to? A webkit browser in possibly 8 to 10 months, screen transitions due in OS 5.0, meanwhile the competition are all moving on to the next level.

  • qwerty1

    They entered the consumer market 3 years ago with the Pearl. 3 years and we still have the worst browser of any smartphone in the market. The CHOSE to enter the market remember – a long time ago.

    The old excuses don’t hold up any more, Android, iPhone, Palm and now Nokia are all years ahead in terms of user experience.

    The Browser – a waste of time for anything other than basic wap sites.

    Touchscreen – hurts your fingers with too many clicks, too much pressure needed, HTC and iPhone both do it much better, The Storm release was a complete disaster, buggiest OS release to date (after the Pearl).

    AppWorld – again, a joke, Android and iPhone both have far superior experiences. Apple are rightly criticized for their bullshit decisions but Rim go the other way: how many fake memory cleaners are there in appWorld?

    WiFi – it’s just a transport layer, so no complaints there (though when it first appeared the shitty browser couldn’t keep up with throughput and stopped working – i quickly learned this kind of thing was typical)

    Desktop Software – ‘No apps were found for this device’… buggy as hell, incredibly slow.

    We’re finally getting rid of the hated trackball, the hardware is in the best shape it’s been since we lost the beloved trackwheel (can you remember devices that didn’t break? i still see people using the trusty 8700 and even occasionally the 7290).

    The OS though… the enterprise/security legacy story bought them a year but it’s 3 years now and we’re still using a buggy mess.

    What do we have to look forward to? A webkit browser in possibly 8 to 10 months, screen transitions due in OS 5.0, meanwhile the competition are all moving on to the next level.

  • Jake

    “RIM fell into the consumer market almost by accident.”

    Actually… no. As anyone who has worked at the company knows, their consumer strategy was long in the making. So that doesn’t explain why they are not innovating as much in the consumer space as they should

  • Jake

    “RIM fell into the consumer market almost by accident.”

    Actually… no. As anyone who has worked at the company knows, their consumer strategy was long in the making. So that doesn’t explain why they are not innovating as much in the consumer space as they should

  • Brett Freeman

    I can’t really buy into the (2) responses on the WiFi issue. Does it really raise the price point that much? Doesn’t seem so when you look at the non-wifi vs wifi offereings from RIM. As far as carrier relations goes, at least with Verizon (and now with ATT), you *must* purchase an unlimited data plan ($29.99 on VZN) which means that if I have wifi on my BB, I’ll actually burden the VZN network *less*, while VZN *still* makes their $29.99/mo from each BB on their network. ATT has recently announced that they are following suit. While I’m unclear as to what others besides VZN and ATT are currently doing, it’s pretty clear that they’ll be moving to this pricing structure as well. With wifi, the carrier’s still get their monthly stipend, but their networks are impacted less.

  • Brett Freeman

    I can’t really buy into the (2) responses on the WiFi issue. Does it really raise the price point that much? Doesn’t seem so when you look at the non-wifi vs wifi offereings from RIM. As far as carrier relations goes, at least with Verizon (and now with ATT), you *must* purchase an unlimited data plan ($29.99 on VZN) which means that if I have wifi on my BB, I’ll actually burden the VZN network *less*, while VZN *still* makes their $29.99/mo from each BB on their network. ATT has recently announced that they are following suit. While I’m unclear as to what others besides VZN and ATT are currently doing, it’s pretty clear that they’ll be moving to this pricing structure as well. With wifi, the carrier’s still get their monthly stipend, but their networks are impacted less.

  • Hayweed

    Rimm has no backbone as they cater to the Carrier and not the Carrier to Rimm. Apple said to the carriers – our way or no iphone. Rimm should do the same with Verizon.

    I did enjoy this article as it says, Rimm puts the consumer second so if you are a consumer, don’t buy a Rimm phone

  • Hayweed

    Rimm has no backbone as they cater to the Carrier and not the Carrier to Rimm. Apple said to the carriers – our way or no iphone. Rimm should do the same with Verizon.

    I did enjoy this article as it says, Rimm puts the consumer second so if you are a consumer, don’t buy a Rimm phone

  • http://twitter.com/BlackBerryCool/statuses/3734710355 BlackBerryCool (BlackBerry Coo

    Wired article: 5 things RIM needs to fix is a little off base http://bit.ly/45uZ4N

  • http://twitter.com/faried80/statuses/3735126299 faried80 (Farid Anfasa)

    RT @BlackBerryCool: Wired article: 5 things RIM needs to fix is a little off base http://bit.ly/45uZ4N

  • phin

    I may be in the minority but I hate touch screen phones. I am a Mac user and refuse to get an iPhone for two reasons, even though it would sync much more nicely with my computer: touch screen and AT&T.

    The browser argument is overblown when you have options like Bolt, Opera Mini and the upcoming SkyFire.

    I don’t understand the need for a “better” either. Lets all waste money on fart apps for our phones. Brilliant.

    I honestly can’t say anything about wifi as I’ve never had a phone that had it so I don’t know what I’m missing. I will say I haven’t upgraded to the Tour yet because it is lacking it. I probably would have if I hadn’t known they were coming out with a new one in six months but why buy something you know they’re making obsolete in 6 months?

    And, as I’ve got a Mac, I don’t have a lot of experience with the desktop software. The one time I’ve used it was just to update my software to 4.5 and I had to run a windows vm through parallels to do it. While the dangling carrot of actually being able to sync my phone with iCal and my address book is appealing, simply being able to update the os and remove windows from my machine is enough for me.

  • phin

    I may be in the minority but I hate touch screen phones. I am a Mac user and refuse to get an iPhone for two reasons, even though it would sync much more nicely with my computer: touch screen and AT&T.

    The browser argument is overblown when you have options like Bolt, Opera Mini and the upcoming SkyFire.

    I don’t understand the need for a “better” either. Lets all waste money on fart apps for our phones. Brilliant.

    I honestly can’t say anything about wifi as I’ve never had a phone that had it so I don’t know what I’m missing. I will say I haven’t upgraded to the Tour yet because it is lacking it. I probably would have if I hadn’t known they were coming out with a new one in six months but why buy something you know they’re making obsolete in 6 months?

    And, as I’ve got a Mac, I don’t have a lot of experience with the desktop software. The one time I’ve used it was just to update my software to 4.5 and I had to run a windows vm through parallels to do it. While the dangling carrot of actually being able to sync my phone with iCal and my address book is appealing, simply being able to update the os and remove windows from my machine is enough for me.

  • http://TheMobileNinjas.com/ Riley Freeman

    I feel you miss the point of everything honestly.

    1. Regardless of if they intended to be in the consumer market or not. Consumers is what you need to stay afloat. RIM would not be as rich as they currently without the consumer market. Companies do use browser too sometimes you have to go to a website to check something out. Regardless when there are solutions like the iphone, windows mobile, android, nokias various operating systems. Why should blackberry users have to settle for such a crappy browser?

    2. The wifi price excuse I dont buy. RIM simply overcharges for their devices. Many HTC devices if not all have WIFI and they are ALL cheaper (carrier subsidized versions at least) than rim’s device who honestly dont have as strong specs as other devices. one quick example lets look at the tour vs the HTC touch pro2. There is NOTHING under the hood of this device that should make it equal in price. I am TELUS customer and both devices are pretty much the same in price.

    This new curve that is setup to come out the 8530 or whatever. This device is more of the same honestly it should be no more than $500 no contract and no more than $100 on a 2 or 3 year contract depending on u.s or canada. Even there I feel it should be somewhere around $60.

    RIM is bigger than the carriers and they do not release enough handsets for a carrier to pass on them. RIM can force wifi on their devices and the carriers would still pick it up for fear of losing customers to other carriers. The iphone has wifi and every carrier wishes they had it.

    Next I want to move on to the repetitiveness of RIM. The storm was a nice try but the click screen is annoying. I used once and I wanted to smash it. Now if the storm 2 does in fact have the option to turn off the click screen then its a great idea and I think will be a great success. If it does not I see the same problems are before.

    Second why are we almost done 2009 and RIM has yet to put out a PALM Style device, Keyboard with the touchscreen? The magnum has been rumoured for over a year and I think we all know its not arriving before 2010. Plus theres the terrible rumour that it might also have the click screen. If this is true its really just destroying what could make a lot of people happy. I have buttons on the phone why do I want more on my screen.

    This is more a specialty request and I saw it was rumoured but I personally doubt it will happen. But it would be nice to have screen orientation even on the bold/tour/curve style devices. I know its not currently in any such type phone but it would be nice.

    All in all though even business users are customers. Yes a company might provide a phone but that business user may need a personal phone or when shopping for a phone for a husband or wife or children, they might then go back to blackberry for more. Word of mouth is the biggest reason sales continue.

    I think RIM did something really great with the new BBM even though there were bugs when it leaked I love the difference and I sat through all the bugs over going back to the old one. I will NEVER return to old BBM. The next step is including wifi (although I personally dont care) I have a windows mobile device the touch pro2 and my tour which each have their own line. Browsing is all done on my touch pro2. I have wifi on that and I never use it on my touch pro. These carriers and companies need to realize very few people will spend the 600 or so for a data device only to rely on hotspots. Some do it but not enough to warrant this ridiculousness that continues ANDDDDDDDDD they allow it on the iphones, windows mobile handsets why is it only disabled on blackberries? Anyways this argument is useless since they said they are going to stop from now on.

    a few final points

    The app store should be on all devices by default.

    the desktop manager I find is good as is. Although I think the MAC one is a piece of crap. I tried helping someone upgrade their OS and its just not user friendly. Thank god I am a pc and I WILL NEVER BE A MAC USER. No offense to those that are but its just too complicated and too much work. I don’t know why microsoft waste time trying to reply to mac commercials with pc is cheaper. If i was microsoft I steal their own ID except every time I tried to download something just have a guy say not compatible.

    Wireless sync would be nice like dashwire for windows mobile or myphone.

    I personally like trackballs and I think trackpad might be frustrating but I have never tried one so I will not speak on that. Either way if you plug in a touchscreen with that It solves both issues.

    All in all rim has stuff to fix but so does windows mobile (wm7 is supposed to be it). Android I have never personally tried but I hear it has its own issues also.

  • http://TheMobileNinjas.com Riley Freeman

    I feel you miss the point of everything honestly.

    1. Regardless of if they intended to be in the consumer market or not. Consumers is what you need to stay afloat. RIM would not be as rich as they currently without the consumer market. Companies do use browser too sometimes you have to go to a website to check something out. Regardless when there are solutions like the iphone, windows mobile, android, nokias various operating systems. Why should blackberry users have to settle for such a crappy browser?

    2. The wifi price excuse I dont buy. RIM simply overcharges for their devices. Many HTC devices if not all have WIFI and they are ALL cheaper (carrier subsidized versions at least) than rim’s device who honestly dont have as strong specs as other devices. one quick example lets look at the tour vs the HTC touch pro2. There is NOTHING under the hood of this device that should make it equal in price. I am TELUS customer and both devices are pretty much the same in price.

    This new curve that is setup to come out the 8530 or whatever. This device is more of the same honestly it should be no more than $500 no contract and no more than $100 on a 2 or 3 year contract depending on u.s or canada. Even there I feel it should be somewhere around $60.

    RIM is bigger than the carriers and they do not release enough handsets for a carrier to pass on them. RIM can force wifi on their devices and the carriers would still pick it up for fear of losing customers to other carriers. The iphone has wifi and every carrier wishes they had it.

    Next I want to move on to the repetitiveness of RIM. The storm was a nice try but the click screen is annoying. I used once and I wanted to smash it. Now if the storm 2 does in fact have the option to turn off the click screen then its a great idea and I think will be a great success. If it does not I see the same problems are before.

    Second why are we almost done 2009 and RIM has yet to put out a PALM Style device, Keyboard with the touchscreen? The magnum has been rumoured for over a year and I think we all know its not arriving before 2010. Plus theres the terrible rumour that it might also have the click screen. If this is true its really just destroying what could make a lot of people happy. I have buttons on the phone why do I want more on my screen.

    This is more a specialty request and I saw it was rumoured but I personally doubt it will happen. But it would be nice to have screen orientation even on the bold/tour/curve style devices. I know its not currently in any such type phone but it would be nice.

    All in all though even business users are customers. Yes a company might provide a phone but that business user may need a personal phone or when shopping for a phone for a husband or wife or children, they might then go back to blackberry for more. Word of mouth is the biggest reason sales continue.

    I think RIM did something really great with the new BBM even though there were bugs when it leaked I love the difference and I sat through all the bugs over going back to the old one. I will NEVER return to old BBM. The next step is including wifi (although I personally dont care) I have a windows mobile device the touch pro2 and my tour which each have their own line. Browsing is all done on my touch pro2. I have wifi on that and I never use it on my touch pro. These carriers and companies need to realize very few people will spend the 600 or so for a data device only to rely on hotspots. Some do it but not enough to warrant this ridiculousness that continues ANDDDDDDDDD they allow it on the iphones, windows mobile handsets why is it only disabled on blackberries? Anyways this argument is useless since they said they are going to stop from now on.

    a few final points

    The app store should be on all devices by default.

    the desktop manager I find is good as is. Although I think the MAC one is a piece of crap. I tried helping someone upgrade their OS and its just not user friendly. Thank god I am a pc and I WILL NEVER BE A MAC USER. No offense to those that are but its just too complicated and too much work. I don’t know why microsoft waste time trying to reply to mac commercials with pc is cheaper. If i was microsoft I steal their own ID except every time I tried to download something just have a guy say not compatible.

    Wireless sync would be nice like dashwire for windows mobile or myphone.

    I personally like trackballs and I think trackpad might be frustrating but I have never tried one so I will not speak on that. Either way if you plug in a touchscreen with that It solves both issues.

    All in all rim has stuff to fix but so does windows mobile (wm7 is supposed to be it). Android I have never personally tried but I hear it has its own issues also.