L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party Recap!

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party
By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Oct 2008 10:02 am EDT
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The L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party we brought word of to the CrackBerry blogs yesterday is now over, the crowds have cleared, and what we have left to share are some nice photos and thoughts from the event courtesy of those in attendance (thanks BGR and BBNews!). More thoughts and lots of photos after the jump!

Launch Party Recap - Highs (and lows)

This wasn't your average RIM/Carrier BlackBerry smartphone launch party, which is typically showered with awesome food, free booze and free devices at the end of the night (and is also rather difficult for the average person to attend as it's invite only for employees/partners/VIPs). This event rather was a free concert, featuring Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters and was open to basically anyone who took the initiative to want to stand in line (assuming you texted earlier that you wanted to go).

While a whopping 500 people were on hand to make it a good party, sadly only four Verizon BlackBerry Storms were present for people to get their hands on (and no free Storm IOS you were given out at the end of the night. This event was a hype builder for the consumer public... an event to get people talking about the Storm, which it has! Consensus is that the live musical performances rocked!

BlackBerry Storm Impressions - Highs (and lows) 

As for the four BlackBerry Storms on hand, the takeaways here were both postive and negative... pretty much in line with the findings in my BlackBerry Storm First Impressions Review. Nobody could argue with the awesomeness of the Storm's display, and most agreed that the hardware itself is very nice. Reports on the Storm's software performance were not quite as positive though, as the device software present appeared to still be in need of work - it's still laggy and the sensitivity still needs to be dialed in (swiping and accelerometer events not always accurate).

Think back to my hands-on first impressions, and these were issues I addressed early in the review:

All of the Storms present at DevCon that I got my hands on, both 9530 and 9500 models, were running beta software, and it was apparent. Having handled the Bold, KickStart and Javelin with pre-release software I've come to have a feel for it and would estimate that the Storm's OS as I played with it was probably 2 or 3 revisions out from what will ultimately be approved by the carriers and loaded onto the devices that go to market at launch.

I'd fathom that what is mainly left to do on the Storm's OS as I played with it are optimizations for memory usage, speed and sensitivity. There were times when the menu and screen transitions / orientation changes were lightning quick (pun intended!), while at other times they lagged a little (and sometimes a lot). Sometimes the accelerometer worked perfect, while other times it was a bit less accurate. This was also the case with my swiping on the touchscreen. Sometimes it was loving my finger, and other times that wasn't quite the case.

At DevCon, the OS running on the Verizon Storm I played with was version 4.7.0.51, and it sounds like the Storms present last night were running 4.7.0.53 - which should be improved to what I used but based on some of the comments obviously appears to have not solved all of the issues as I reported them earlier.

Reading through some of the live blog post comments and forum posts, I noticed there was some calling into question of last night's hands-on impressions. But if you read carefully and between the lines, I think the observations of what was reported have mainly been accurate and in line with what I and others reported earlier.

If you look at all of the pre-release Storm reviews written on the web to date, the authors have always said (myself included) that the device they reviewed was pre-release and that there were software kinks present and that they should be worked out by the time the device goes to market. And from there, the reviewers ignore the obvious/present bugs and write to how the device should perform at launch (you focus on the device as it is meant to be).

The big difference with yesterday's commentary is that this was a Launch Party! This wasn't RIM's Co-CEO swinging by LapTop Mag's or Engadget's offices to show off the pre-announced Storm, nor the situation of getting hands-on time with the device at the BlackBerry Developer Conference... in these cases you are clearly told the software is still beta so you put your observations into perspective and the reviews reflect that.

Going into a Launch Party and handling a soon-to-be released smartphone, you're expecting to handle the device as it will be at launch!! Your expectations are a LOT higher... performance matters. And if lags/glitches are present, it's going to be very difficult to overlook them when reporting back as you're focusing on what's in your hands right now, not as it's intended to be, and rightfully so.. this is a "Launch Party" afterall.

My takeaways from last night?

  • Based on the observations from the L.A. Launch Party, it's obvious that there's still work left to be done on the Storm's OS (at least beyond version .53) to make it silky and smooth, which is of course what we all want it to be when it becomes commercially available.
  • If Verizon is already holding a launch party for this device, they obviously plan to release it sooner rather than later. Even if were to be delayed for 10 to 14 days past the current rumored dates (mid-Novemberish, on sale by/for Black Friday), the odds are it's going to launch before the end of the month, regardless of whether the software is fully up to snuff or not. If this is the case, the Storm as it is on Day 1 may not be the same as it will be after month one, two or three upon further software revisions (think Rogers Bold). I obviously have high hopes that the Storm that gets released will be lag free and dialed in, but with time sort of running out we'll just have to wait and see. As I made note of in my hands-on impressions, my "love" for the Storm is directly proportional to how well the software on it is going to run. I want to love it lots at release, so hopefully we won't be disappointed. I like the Storm's hardware and SurePress /OS concept a lot - it just needs to perform.
Push come to shove, I think more than any other BlackBerry to date the Storm is a device we're all going to have to spend some time with before we can draw any definitive conclusions. First impressions are first impressions afterall (even if it is 7,500 words of first impressions.. LOL!). It was easy for me to look beyond the beta stuff and get a good sense of what the device will be like and I think I gave it an even-handed review. But now I just want to have one to call my own so we can really get our relationship started... and I can decide whether I love, Love or LOVE the Storm!!

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party Video

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party Images

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

[ Images From BGR and BBNEWS, Video from Gadget Review ]

Topics: News & Rumors

Reader comments

L.A. BlackBerry Storm Launch Party Recap!

22 Comments

You know what....Im ok with a delay. Really really I am because it will save me the fact that every time i turned that damn phone it wouldnt lag. If there is a delay and the interface is HALF as smooth as the iphone, bam ill grab it, but if it looks like that...I'm going to say what was the delay for.

Being a software engineer you know how this stuff works and smoothness and ease of use is the very last of things to be fixed, but were getting down to the wire here, i mean, thats what the current build is.

The Blonde in the pic is hawt!

Can she strip down to a g-string and heels when I buy my phone?

Seems kind of irresponsible of BB to not have the software fully worked out before the launch party because for a lot of people that's going to be their first impression on the phone.

THAT IS THE QUESTION HERE. WAS IT IRRESPONSIBLE OF RIM AND VERIZON TO HAVE THE STORM ON DISPLAY WITH LAGGY SOFTWARE OR IS THAT THE FINAL SOFTWARE AND IT'LL GO TO MARKET LAGGY?

I really doubt that they will release it to the public with it lagging that much. Yes, there will be minor kinks I'm sure, but lets remember, this is BB's FIRST touchscreen and is trying to compete with the iphone and Bold. They are going to try their little asses off to make sure it is as flawless as possible. Even if it is released on the 16th, that's still 2 full business weeks for them to work on the kinks. I have faith :)

I was there and the phone was a bit disappointing. The reps made it clear that the phone was in beta, but why the hell would you have a launch party and have a phone that is not ready for launch? Really? RIM Really? Makes no sense if you ask me. Especially since word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool in this day of age.

I will wait for the phone to be released, but if there isnt a significant improvement from what i played with at "launch" than Android here I come, too bad the G1 is only for TMO.

I also wasnt a big fan of the "clickable" screen. I hope there will be an option to disable the clicking of the screen. Although im not a fan of the Iphone, I prefer the non-clicking the iphone has.

OH and another thing. One of the reps said, "We are not allowed to compare it to the Iphone". If you are not allowed to compare it to the Iphone, dont say that you are not allowed to compare it. Market it better than the Iphone. It has the potential to be a significantly better phone and rightfully so should not be compared to the Iphone in anyway.

UGH at RIM and Verizon.

With the quarter about to end, Rimm needs to get a phone on AT&T or Verizon or the the sales this quarter will suck. Personally, I think Rimm will put the phone out even though it is half baked and it will get killed on reviews. The other choice is to wait and have the stock get crushed on Wall Street. Either way Rimm is in a tough spot while the iPhone like it or not keeps on selling in big numbers.

Great comment! But whoever said we weren't allowed to compare it to the Iphone is quiet the Dumbhead! Why do you think Blackberry came out with the Storm to begin with? Although sales of blackberries continue to soar, Blackberry has lost customers since the launch of the Iphone in Canada. I myself considered switching after playing with the iphone for a bit. But I like my keyboard and wouldn't give it up for a touch screen ever! and the Blackberry messenger is the best of all!
The Iphone is more of a multimedia mobile device but the with a phone.
Im still loyal to my curve!
Besides you know what they say...Once you go Black, you never go Back!

I'm assuming to put together a launch party with the Foo Fighters and QOTSA, they had to start organizing it months ago. At that time, they probably planned on an early-November release. However, since there are software issues, they had to decide to move forward with last night's launch party for a mid-to-late-Novmeber release or cancel it (and still pay the bands, the venue, etc.).

They probably made the decision to go forward and only provide 4 Storms for people to demo so that people wouldn't get to spend too much time with it and notice all the software issues. That is the telling part to me - THEY ONLY PROVIDED 4 STORMS. They easly could have had 30. They know it is not ready so they tried to limit people's access to it.

the event was a lot of fun but i have to echo the sentiments of others. While the phones looked stunning, it was a big disappointment for me. I tried out 3 different storms and each one had a different issue. The first one i used wouldnt even register my touches and the verizon rep was so befuddled. They were a bunch of 15 year old kids who didn't really know much about the phone.

After getting me a second one to test i attempted to go on the browser and turned the phone to landscape, but the accelerometer never kicked in and the rep just kept turning it to no avail before getting me another one.

The third one i used was just laggy in registering my touch and had the same problem with the accelerometer. The typing was very hard for me and i honestly don't ever see myself being able to type accurately. I would never be able to type at even 1/2 the speed i do with my curve.

After actually seeing and playing w/ the phone i have come to the conclusion that the storm is not for me. It's a great phone for fans of touch screens but personally i would rather wait for the next-gen curve or if i had the opportunity to switch providers, i would buy the bold in a heartbeat

Thank you anonymous for sharing your experience with the Storm. I HOPE that the final release will have those problems corrected and rectified because otherwise the Storm will be a major major retail flop.

I honestly cant see RIM releasing a buggy phone like the ones you tried at the party.

Heres to hoping that the Storm will be much more impressive at the ACTUAL launch!

Thanks for sharing everyone. I am actually going to the release party for the Bold tonight and hope to score me one. I think it will be released whether it has minimal bugs or not as RIM/Verizon want this to be released before Christmas.

Sometimes when you have to book these events in advance you get stuck. I think that's what happened here. If this was the software they were going to launch with, why isn't there a launch date and why were there so few phones?

The hardware is impressive. The software will be there too before it goes on sale.

I was not truly impressed with the party as the rest of you werent either. The phone was cool but it did lag and I didnt get that much time with it. I was even more dissapointed that we didnt get a free one or at least and IOU. I waited 3 hours to get inside to pay for liquor and walk away empty handed, oh wait no they were passing out flyers like it was a fricken club asking you to upload your photos. No thanks I just spent 3 hours of my time to look at a phone that was cool but no completely functional and to walk away asking myself do i really want this phone. Maybe they will work it out!