One question lurking in the subconscious of the gadget cognoscenti is what will Nokia's and RIM's answers to iPhone be like? What will Nokia's & RIM's best efforts at the touchscreen produce?
If last year's HTC Touch being marketed by Sprint -- a telco in freefall -- is any example of iPhone-inspiration, then we are in for some funny-ass cellie punditry.
As Apple rolls out telco partnerships in Europe, iPhone's awesomeness is by now a matter of universal agreement and enters lore as a notch on the tech-timeline. Don't ask me. Edward Tufte, information design guru, characterized the iPhone's humane integration of hard- and soft-ware as a design leap. He called out the iPhone interface as newly, uniquely, devoid of "administrative debris".
Bold looks an attractive package. It's an iPhone with a Hasselblad-like leatherette back that will surely add a luxury feel and make the device easier to grasp.
Bold is an iPhone with a keyboard. This is odd, if hardly surprising. RIM figures Blackberry users must have that keyboard. After all, they are used to that keyboard. The Blackberry interface has been defined by that keyboard.
Ready for irony? That keyboard defeats the purpose of the touchscreen. That keyboard is nothing if not what Tufte called administrative debris. It is all administrative debris. Nothing but administrative debris.
That keyboard crowds out screen real estate to the extent that Bold must be wider and larger than the iPhone to achieve a touchscreen with some, any, utility. This makes Bold something of a hybrid: part touch experience with icons and part text-maniac's-best-friend. Which is to say, something that will not take anything away from the suits but which adds some of the sexy iPhone mojo that the suits would like to have along with the Microsoft Exchange Server access.
Enough mojo, perhaps, to keep the suits from migrating to iPhone. And that's the point: this is a defensive, stop-the-bleeding design strategy manifest as a clock-stopping hot pocket rocket.
It's all about the Individual v Enterprise market segmentation that is the landscape of the Blackberry v Apple Device War. Apple & iPhone own the house, and RIM & Blackberry own the glass-house. Tension will mount over the next few chapters as to who will penetrate the other's ... house.
RIM have that word 'innovation' on the Bold website, which is unfortunate. I'm reminded of the (excellent & entertaining) DirecTV commercials featuring the guy, a parody of a cable TV exec, in the marketing strategy board room who pretends to have an MBA, some pompous panaceae for killing DirecTV's market penetration and a few slick Kung Fu moves. Cameo by Ed Begley, Jr ...
We'll need to demo Bold to find out if its hybridity is ridiculously contrived or makes some sense for users already accustomed to Blackberry and, more importantly for RIM, for individual users who are native to the iPhone wheel-house.