RIM Sings Torch Song
The Canadian BlackBerry maker today launched its BlackBerry 6 operating system with an updated user interface, a browser intended to more faithfully render standard Websites, and the ability to view social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on a single page. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is the first carrier to offer the new OS on a device, with the BlackBerry "Torch" smartphone, which the operator will start selling for $199 with a two-year contract on August 12.
The phone offers both a touchscreen and slide-out keyboard and sports a 3.2-inch display. The device supports both 3G and the faster 802.11n WiFi specification. RIM has also put in an upgraded 5-megapixel camera and support for up to 32GB of memory.
RIM currently has a global smartphone market share of 3.6 percent and is particularly strong in North America. The company has been feeling more market pressure from the Apple iPhone and the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating system lately. Strategy Analytics Inc. says Apple grabbed nearly 3 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter of 2010. (See Smartphone Wars Pay Off in Q2.)
Heavy Reading senior consultant Berge Ayvazian describes the upgrades as "timely" for RIM and the BlackBerry devices. He suggests that the updates will make it easier for the vendor to compete with rivals in the smartphone market.
"I think that before the Blackberry 6 OS and devices like the new Torch, RIM was certainly falling behind not just the iPhone but the Android platform as well," Ayvazian says.
Nonetheless, the analyst also believes that RIM should consider opening up its software to support the iPhone and Android operating systems in order to maintain its position in the mobile enterprise. (See Should RIM Support Apple & Android? for more.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile