ZDNet reviews BlackBerry Storm2: RIM needs to dump the SurePress screen and get a new OS

“On Monday, Research in Motion quietly announced the successor to the world’s first touchscreen BlackBerry handset: the BlackBerry Storm2. With consideration to the tall expectations that faced its innovative but maligned predecessor at launch, the bungled announcement was a strange move,” Andrew Nusca reports for ZDNet.

“The Storm met considerable criticism once it launched. The clicky SurePress screen was prohibitively useful in regular use, the device omitted Wi-Fi altogether and it simply didn’t compare to the king of smartphones: Apple’s iPhone 3G… That was exactly one year ago,” Nusca reports. “Since then, the smartphone landscape has changed considerably. The iPhone, now in its third incarnation, still reigns king.”

Nusca reports, “I’ve spent a lot of time recently with Apple, Palm and Android-based products, so I was able to use that experience to contrast with that of the Storm2.”

“The Storm2 is a hodgepodge of innovative technology and stale holdovers,” Nusca reports. “The build quality of the device is top-notch… [but] the SurePress interface, much improved, remains a toss-up… I’m not a fan of devices with physical QWERTY keyboards, and I believe preserving mechanical input is a habit that will be dropped over time. I also understand it’s a matter of preference for most folks… Resistive input, for all but niche uses, is dead (sorry, Windows Mobile), and physical keyboards are a mental safety net for those who fear true ‘touch.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Bingo.

Nusca reports continues, “When using the Storm2, I alternated the entire time between thinking ‘this is unique, cool and a differentiating feature’ to ‘I wish the input was transparent, simple touch so I could get on with what I want to do.’ The touch response on the Storm2 is better than any Android phone to date, but the requirement of a click to take action is an extra step that’s neither any more accurate than touch-only nor particularly comfortable. If you ignore the stopgap input method, the Storm2 is really a middling, albeit speedy, smartphone. It’s friendly to business users thanks to its excellent integration with the enterprise, but the operating system itself — even in its latest version, 5.0 — isn’t at all optimized for touch.”

MacDailyNews Take: Hence the need to have that ill-conceived clickable screen; the BlackBerry OS requires those constant clicks.

Nusca continues, “The Web browser remains a frustrating experience. The swipe-to-scroll was nice, but the click-to-zoom was endlessly frustrating, and the amount of steps it takes to perform simple tasks — such as type in a Web address — are reprehensible for such a high-profile device… Further, the small text fields and other clickable objects were a pain to use via the Storm2’s touch-click method of input. The keyboard remains a mixed bag, mostly for the worse. While the horizontal keyboard spaces letters, numbers and characters out individually, the vertical keyboard continues to combine pairs of characters — so a typical Q|W|E|R|T|Y|U|I|O|P set of keys looks like so: QW|ER|TY|UI|OP. No matter how I tried, be it consciously or habitually, I could not get the Storm2 to reliably type things without mistakes.”

Nusca reports, “I believe the company needs to drop its innovative SurePress mechanical-touch input for a strictly capacitive touch interface… I also believe RIM needs to redesign BlackBerry OS from the ground up for a touch-only interface.”

There’s much more in the full review – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: When a smartphone review ends suggesting that its input method be dropped and its OS redesigned from the ground up, it’s safe to say that the maker has major problems. If, prompted by iPhone’s 2007 debut, RIM has not been working on a real touch OS that’s close to being ready, then, mark our words, they are roadkill, regardless of their current market share position.

Oh, what’s this? Look what our jam-packed iCal just spat out:
Apple realizes that RIM is releasing a major offering that could shake Steve Jobs and Co. to its core… Say what you will, but Apple is scared. And it should be… Even though Apple created this category and revolutionized the market, RIM just one-upped the founders, and Apple knows that… The iPhone was cool, up until yesterday. But today, there’s a new phone in town, and if you ask me, it just took the title.CNET Hit-Whore Don Reisinger, on the occasion of RIM’s BlackBerry Storm’s debut, November 21, 2008


  1. RIM’s problem is that it has Microsoftitis – it’s so afraid to alienate its legacy customers (those who want the physical keyboard and tiny trackball) that it can never drop those products and go all in on a touchscreen device.

    So RIM will die a slow death, all the while crowing about how it is preserving its legacy software because its customers demand a physical screen. Well, those customers didn’t have a device with a full keyboard until they bought Blackberrys or Treos, and they adapted just fine then.

    When you get stuck in time, you quickly become the past.

  2. The buggy manufacturers are please to introduce the newly released, innovative buggy whip. Its new features provide you with a means of getting ahead of those new-fangled horseless carriages. step right up. Who’ll be first?

  3. aaah that old iCaled CNET review where have I heard words like that before, though actually not as optimistic. Sounds familiar to the over optimistic feelings expressed about Windows 7 (indeed Vista on launch) doesn’t it. How the World turns, and turns again and foolish optimism banished to room 101.

  4. Would someone please splain to me what it means to “iCal” something?

    I use iCal to remind me of known upcoming events. I don’t see how you can use to to tell you anything if an unknown event happens sometime in the future.

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