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RIM Enters China With the BlackBerry Storm and BES

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A while back we heard that RIM would be entering the Chinese market but in a strange move, RIM has decided to launch with BES and the BlackBerry Storm. China is a pretty crucial market considering its size, and you would think RIM would want to launch with an affordable and reliable device such as the Curve 8520, but instead they’ve gone with a device with one of the worst brand reputations in RIM’s hardware history. Forget about what you think of the Storm (some love, some hate), it’s still a curious decision.

If I had to guess, it probably has something to do with beating Apple in the Chinese touchscreen market. There is probably a lot of market research that says Chinese consumers are looking for more touchscreen smartphones, and RIM has decided they’ll be the ones to serve the demand. Personally, I think this is going to result in a lot of dissatisfied users, and if you’re going to pioneer a new market, why not choose a device such as the Bold and Curve, which carries a solid brand and reputation.

Read the press release from RIM.

UPDATED: Mike Lazaridis Says Tablets and Touchscreen Phones Are Insignificant

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UPDATE: RIM were kind enough to send over the transcripts of the TD Newcrest event in order to clear up exactly what was said during the keynote. After reading the actual transcripts from the event, it’s clear Mike L didn’t say anything that was really definitive about the tablet market, but rather promoted a sense of uncertainty. I think the iPad definitely proved a tablet market can be vibrant, and that the market can handle some redundancy. When it comes to touchscreen devices, the transcripts show that there was definitely an attempt to pivot the conversation away from touchscreens and focus more on trackpads. When I first wrote about this, the thought was that Mike was shifting the discussion away from touchscreens and towards their competitive advantage, which is definitely the trackpad market. The 8520 has a very high customer satisfaction rating, and you could argue the trackpad is central to this. It’s a smart move for Mike to shift the discussion to these devices, which he calls a “third dimension” in user input. Overall, the original post was a little focused on a dismissal of tablets and touchscreens, and would have probably been better put as a focus on trackpads and smartphone capabilities.

Mike Lazaridis spoke at a TD Newcrest technology conference in Toronto today where he downplayed Apple’s tablet efforts and said there wasn’t necessarily a market for them. Lazaridis said these devices should be put in the context of computers and smartphones, and said if a user is asked to choose between an tablet and a netbook, the tablet isn’t an adequate substitute. Mike L believes that as smartphones become more powerful, and move closer to PCs, the need for a tablet is greatly reduced.

Lazaridis also dismissed the importance of touchscreen phones, saying that touch-only devices such as the iPhone aren’t that popular. While it’s important to appease the consumer and the carrier, who clearly want a touchscreen device, he believes most of these customers are shifting to QWERTY.

All of this news comes as we learn that RIM might be launching a tablet of their own, and they are about to launch yet another touchscreen device, this time a BlackBerry slider.

So what is Mike Lazaridis talking about? This could be an attempt to pivot the conversation about tablets and touchscreens, and move the discussion to where RIM is more competitive (eg QWERTY devices and productivity). It’s a bit of a slap in the face to Storm owners, when the top executive seems to lack faith in the product they purchased. The message should be: “Touchscreen phones provide new possibilities for interesting UIs and the input makes for some creative applications. Rest assured, RIM will do it better than the rest as we understand how to create a smartphone with real productivity and utility in mind.”
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Rumor: BlackBerry Storm2 Getting Improved Touchscreen and Recall

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The bad press and feedback from the BlackBerry Storm2 has been never ending. That’s not to say that the Storm2 is a bad device, but of all BlackBerrys it has had the hardest time garnering mass appeal and its rivals have set the bar for quality incredibly high. My personal experience with the Storm2 has been varied. The Storm has some major bugs but it also makes apps looks really crisp and the larger screen is much appreciated.

Rumor sources are reporting that we may expect a worldwide (Verizon first) recall of the Storm2, as RIM have enhanced the touchscreen and made older models eligible for a replacement. Apparently, RIM has added silicone actuators to the touchscreen to improve the performance and tactile response. As of February 10th, 2010, all Storm2 devices contain this enhancement. You can identify these devices by a green dot on the master carton and/or date code on the back of the device (more details below).
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Storm Picture Editing and Drawing App Radical Draw With 10 Free Copies

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Radical Draw is an app built specifically for the BlackBerry Storm that lets you customize and edit your pictures on the go. The app can be used to draw on pictures, or create your own, using the clip art, lines, shapes, colors and text provided. The company is also offering custom clip art, and contacting the developer will get you a quote.

The developer also plans to release a free upgrade in the near future, with additional clip art and crop capabilities and MMS support. Also, tilting the Storm to portrait is not currently supported but is on the way.

Radical Draw is a little on the pricey side at $7.99, but we have 10 copies to give away and if you’re a lucky winner, you should come back and tell everyone what you think of the app.

Note: Radical Draw requires at least OS 5.0.0.320.

Rumor: Verizon to Discontinue the BlackBerry Storm

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Verizon Storm 2 - 9550

There are rumors that a major Telco, most likely Verizon, will be reducing its stock of, and possibly cutting entirely, the BlackBerry Storm. The rumors are building that returns for the device series have been unacceptably high it hasn’t been the touchscreen success RIM was hoping for.

This would be a real shame because the upcoming WebKit browser from RIM would make it a really great touchscreen device. While I’m personally not a Storm user, I have used one in the past and I do like it. If Verizon kills the Storm it could have a huge impact since Verizon is such a big source of customers for RIM. Only time will tell.

Pulse Theme for the BlackBerry Storm Available with Free Trial

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Pulse-Elecite

Elecite have a pretty cool new theme out that’s only available for the Storm called Pulse. Elecite are also breaking some new ground making the theme available under a free trial. This is a great move and shows they have a lot of faith in this theme, something more theme developers could learn from.

Check out Pulse from Elecite.