If you’re the kind of person that trawls tech blogs for the latest gadget news, Research in Motion’s new BlackBerry Curve smartphones probably won’t do anything for you.
The latest BlackBerry Curves—model numbers 9350, 9360 and 9370—look like unremarkable upgrades to the standard BlackBerry formula. They’ve got 2.44-inch screens (no touch, unlike the new BlackBerry Bold 9900), 800 MHz processors, 5-megapixel cameras and 1 GB of storage (plus an empty microSD slot). In other words, the specs are a generation behind.
And as reviews of other recent BlackBerry phones have pointed out, RIM’s new BlackBerry 7 operating system doesn’t feel like modern software either, compared to the iPhone, Android and Windows Phones.
BlackBerry 7 is a welcome upgrade, with enhancements like HTML 5 support and smoother graphics, but it’s not the overhaul that RIM’s phones need. That’ll come next year, when RIM is expected to launch phones on its QNX operating system that debuted in the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.
But from RIM’s press release, I get the sense that the company knows all of this. The new BlackBerry Curve models, RIM says, “are designed to address a large and important segment of the global mobile phone market,” for people who want to upgrade from a feature phone or existing BlackBerry Curve.
The key word there is “global,” which RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis repeats when extolling the new BlackBerry Curves: “These new models will build on the incredible success of the BlackBerry Curve line and further expand the largest global launch of BlackBerry smartphones in our history,” he said.
With RIM losing market share in the United States, the company has turned its attention to emerging markets, where the BlackBerry brand (and the Curve in particular) are quite popular, as BusinessWeek recently noted. Although the Curve will probably be available through U.S. wireless carriers, the focus with these new phones seems to be on markets like Africa and the Middle East.