RIM Unveils New BlackBerry Bold, Torch Models
Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) took the wraps off five new BlackBerry smartphones aimed at reinvigorating the company's device lineup ahead of a larger transition next year to using QNX software for its smartphones.
The company, which billed the rollout as its largest global launch ever with more than 225 carrier partners, is trying to stabilize its sliding North American smartphone market share and breathe new life into a brand many analysts and investors have criticized as stale. The new phones all run on a refreshed version of RIM's operating system software, BlackBerry 7, which RIM said is 40 percent faster than BlackBerry 6 smartphones and up to 100 percent faster than BlackBerry 5 smartphones.
"We're delivering an enhanced experience, and we'll enhance it again when the time comes," Patrick Spence, RIM's managing director for global sales and regional marketing, told the Wall Street Journal.
While analysts said the refresh is necessary, some consumers may hold off on the new phones to wait for RIM's QNX phones, which will sport dual-core processors and which RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has dubbed "superphones."
The new BlackBerry 7 phones come shortly after RIM announced 2,000 job cuts aimed at streamlining operations. RIM reported weak quarterly financials and BlackBerry device shipments in its most recent quarter, and the company has been steadily losing market share, particularly in the United States, to smartphones running Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iOS and Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android, though it recently has made gains in Europe and elsewhere.
RIM said the new BlackBerry 7 platform includes an improved browser with optimized zooming and panning for smoother Web navigation and optimized HTML5 performance for gaming and video. BlackBerry 7 also features Liquid Graphics technology, giving the smartphones a dedicated high-performance graphics processor for a more responsive touch interface.
All of the new smartphones also sport beefed up hardware, including 1.2 GHz processors from Qualcomm (NAS: QCOM) , HD video recording, 24-bit high resolution graphics and advanced sensors for augmented reality applications.
The new phones include the HSPA+ BlackBerry Torch 9810, which AT&T (NYS: T) Mobility said it will exclusively launch later this month, though the carrier did not provide pricing or a specific release date. The device is an update to the original Torch, and has a 5-megapixel camera with HD 720p video recording, 8 GB of onboard storage and a 3.2-inch touchscreen display. AT&T also will launch the HSPA+ Bold 9900 and the all-touch BlackBerry Torch 9860, which will be AT&T's first all-touch BlackBerry smartphone. RIM also said the Bold 9930 and Torch 9850 are part of the new lineup. Previously, T-Mobile USA committed to launching the new Bold, which RIM first announced in May, but has not given a release date for.
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