Logical BlackBerry Smartphone Speculation for 2009

BlackBerry Logic
By Kevin Michaluk on 17 Oct 2008 08:56 pm EDT
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This isn't news. This isn't a rumor. This is just my Friday evening attempt at pure BlackBerry smartphone speculation (you could think of it as a loose prediction) based on logic and RIM's past precedent. We've already had a glimpse of some of these devices already, but in this article we're gonna skip all the codenames and rumored device model numbers, which to be honest have me slightly confused at the moment, and instead focus on the end game - what's hitting the market for 2009 (and maybe even beyond). My Vulcan-like logic awaits you after the jump!

BlackBerry Smartphone Speculation for 2009

Things have been moving fast in the world of BlackBerry. CrackBerry.com launched in February 2007 (not that long ago!), and at the time I was using a cutting edge BlackBerry 8700! Then we saw the rollout of 8800 and the launch of the Curve that May at WES 2007, and a few months later the Pearl "2" rolled out (and various iterations of these base models from there). For a little while (I can't remember off hand now if it was a few weeks or a couple of months), things in the BlackBerry World seemed almost "calm." To put it another way - I didn't have to create any new room for new device models within the CrackBerry Forums. Things were good to go with a new and improved generation of BlackBerry Smartphones in the hands of BlackBerry users worldwide.

Roll back a few months and within in a very short time period a wave of rumors flooded out that brought word of RIM's next generation of smartphones - the Bold (9000 Meteor), the Pearl Flip (KickStart), the Curve 8900 (Javelin) and the Storm (Storm / Thunder) and things have been kinda crazy ever since. From speculating on specs, to leaked documents, to prerelease hands-on reviews and onto release date speculation and full release reviews, there's literally been something new to report on every day. As these devices hit or near the market, instead of getting some down time, we're already seeing rumors for the next generation of smartphones surface. It's almost crazy - AT&T doesn't have the Bold yet, and not one Storm has been sold, yet we're already talking about what's next before the first what's next is even in our hands. 

When these rumors hit, without fail one or two comments will pop-up saying something along the lines of I was going to get "x" device, but now I'm going to hold off for "xx" device. I personally think that's the wrong approach to have, since in reality by the time "xx" device nears the market the blogosphere will now be talking about "xxx" device. You can't win. So just save up your pennies and buy what you want when you want it.

Looking at the next generation of devices coming down the pipe, we're already hearing the codenames and starting to get some of the base specs associated with them. Today we learned a bit about the Pluto and the Magnum. The bad thing about codenames for devices is that they give us a perception of something "totally new," since the name itself is totally different from any other name. But as we saw with the KickStart and now with the Javelin, a cool codename doesn't mean a new brand name when it's time for the device to go market. And seeing how the KickStart became the Pearl 8220 and the Javelin has become the Curve 8900, I think RIM has already tipped us their cards for what we'll see in 2009. It takes a lot of effort and money to build a new brand, and once a brand has steam in the market place it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to let a brand die out. Therefore, I think it's pretty logical to assume the majority of the devices we seen in 2009, while they'll all get cool codenames for the next few months in all the blogs, will likely hit the market under the same brand name. Some predictions of what I think we'll see, based on where we're coming from:

Bold "Touch" - the Bold already has 3G/WiFi/GPS in one. As we saw today, you can expect it to have a touchscreen added in on, and maybe even a more streamlined form factor. And I'm sure other hardware will get a boost as well - more RAM, 3.2MP camera, etc. But based on what we've seen of the Pluto so far, I'm guessing it will go to market as the Bold "something".

Curve "Touch" or  Curve "3G" or Curve "3G+Touch" - The 8800/Bold and Curve are two very distinct form factors, and I think we can expect that distinction to continue in to 2009 and beyond (bigger vs. smaller, keys spaced  vs. not spaced). The big gripe people have for the Curve 8900 right now is that it lacks 3G. I think in 2009 we can expect to see a Curve with 3G. But now that RIM is embracing touchscreens, I wouldn't be shocked if we saw this device come through with both 3G and a touchscreen. Or maybe it'll be an either or if they can't get the battery life out of the equation. We're sort of used to compromising with the Curve -- do you want an 8310 with GPS or 8320 with WiFi? - so maybe the new choice will be Curve with 3G or Curve with touchscreen (let's hope they keep the WiFi/GPS in both option standard on all models). 

Storm "HD" - Everybody is excited for the Storm right now and for good reason...it look's pretty frak'n awesome. But the more we hear about it, the more it seems Vodafone/Verizon wanted to see this device hit the market, and hit the market as soon as possible. To meet the timelines, it couldn't be "the perfect device" on day one. Obviously they need to space out releases, but I'm sure an upgraded Storm will come along sooner than you think. Apple went from the Iphone 2G to 3G pretty much in the space of year - I wouldn't be surprised if the second Storm came around maybe even sooner than that. Of course it would have to be differentiated from the first one. Seeing how Windows Mobile has the HTC Touch HD and that there's speculation of an iPhone HD in 2009, I think a Storm "HD" only makes logical sense. And hopefully it will pack WiFi and a bit more processor punch to run it all (hell, let's toss in Bose or Harmon Kardon speakers to really make it a multidmedia dream). I wouldn't expect a change from the Storm branding when this goes to market, just a tag like "HD" tacked onto the end. Again, keeping the brand alive extends the lifespan for selling all the higher-margin, already on the market for a while devices (which will now be available at lower price point and still sell like crazy even though the coolest device is now available). 

"New Brand" 3G Touchscreen - If Vodafone/Verizon have locked up the rights to the Storm exclusively (with the exception of letting Bell and Telus get in on it too), then RIM needs to put out a full-touchscreen device so AT&T and Rogers and other carriers can have a full-screen touchscreen BlackBerry (and it of course needs to support their 3G networks). To get around the Storm agreement, I'm guessing a new brand will be formed for this bad boy and that the device will somehow be visually different from the Storm. Specs-wise I'd expect it to trump the Storm "1" (will have WiFi), and features-wise I bet it will be close to the Storm "HD" or even be more desirable (maybe they'll do something funky like a 5MP camera or a 1GB of ram). Or I could see some jockeying for position here that continues for the long-haul between the two competing fullscreen touchscreen devices... When released this "new brand" device will trump the Storm on specs, then the Storm "2" will be releaesed and be better than "new brand 1" device, and then finally this "new brand" device will get an update and be the best of the best. Either way, I'm likely going to want this device BAD.

New Candy Bar Pearl - Seeing the 8800 series turn into the Bold and seeing the 8300s get an update to the Curve 8900, I'm hoping we see a revision to the Pearl candy bar in 2009 as well. The Pearl Flip is of course brand new, but specs-wise doesn't touch the Bold or Curve 8900. I'm not sure that a new Pearl candy bar would touch them either (there is only so much space to work with), but it would be awesome to see the Pearl candy bar get an upgrade that included a nice piece of glass a la the Bold or Curve 8900, the new and improved trackball, the next-generation Bold/Curve 8900 stylings, more RAM and OS 4.6. If they can keep the battery life up, a faster-processor would be welcome too!

Conclusion

So while were going to start seeing a lot of rumored codenames and specs and release dates in the weeks and months ahead (that's why the Internet exists, doesn't it?!), I think the speculation/loose predictions above are pretty reasonable and can help keep things in perspective as details begin to emerge. Hopefully RIM will throw us  a curve ball too and maybe toss in some surprises (the Pearl Flip was a bit out of left field!) that I never mentioned here... I'm a big fan of surprises!

So if codenames confuse you and model numbers start to make your head hurt (as they did this morning to me)... remember, it is likely the majority of devices will eventually go to market as an existing brand name + tag line. RIM just did it twice with the Pearl Flip and Curve 8900 and I think that trend will continue, with maybe one (max two) new device brands launched.

So what do you think? Logical? Vulcan logicial? Or am I completely out to Lunch? Drop your thoughts in the comments!

** FYI - I'm not really a Trekkie (have nothing against those who are though... I'm just too busy on my CrackBerry), but will admit to having watched more than a few episodes of Star Trek Enterprise just to see T Pol. Hottest Vulcan EVER. **

 

Topics: Editorial

43 comments

Crucial_Xtreme

Looks pretty much on target Kev.... ;)

kalel3914

I hear the bold v 1.0 may even be out by q4 2009 in the US of A

GapBoyPCS

If RIM is going all-out multimedia, won't that alienate those who have strict security policies such as no cameras and/or video capability?

Would the 8800 series be the proverbial mule and be stuck with that duty? I wouldn't be surprised if there's a non-camera/video version of a Bold or the likes to keep those folks who can't have them happy.

DaFD

Blackberries on BES can have features disabled by IT. So you can still rock your WiFi/GPS/Camera wielding Bold in the strictest of companies. Unless the IT guys are idiots and do not use BES or do not know how to use it.

SLVR6

Surely you jest? I know of many companies still that will not let your phone in the door if they see a camera. Hopefully RIM will release an updated no-camera phone.

NamelessLiar

I for one say BRING IT ON!!!

I need a Javelin or Storm in my hand yesterday and in a year I know I'll be ready to drop dime on the newest, latest, and greatest.

That being said, GET OFF YOUR ASS RIM AND GIVE ME SOME TOYS!!!!!!!

raymond

that rim does not have two touchscreen devices. I think that's just overkill. plus, it'll be like they are pimping out their handsets and forcing people to go from one carrier to another to follow the updates.

I never though i'd say this but, kevin, i hope you are wrong.

Kevin Michaluk

Yeah, I don't disagree with you. Would make way more sense for there to just be one full screen touch model.

But if the market shows demand for the full touchscreen BlackBerry, which I'd say it already has by the excitement over the Storm, then it would only make sense for RIM and other carriers (AT&T, Rogers) to want to get a hold of a full screen touch berry. And if Verizon/Vodafone have locked up the "Storm", then they'll have to differentiate it enough to work around that and bring it to market under a different name. Again, I hope I'm wrong there too... but just putting out there what I think could happen based on what we know.

grooves12

Of course it makes sense for other carriers to WANT it, but there is no way it simply a matter of them making another device and naming it something else. Why would Verizon/Vodafone ever agree to something like that??

If it were so simple to get out of an exclusivity agreement, why doesn't apple just rename the iPhone and put it in a different case and release it to Verizon??

Sorry, not going to happen.

Xopher

Mabe this is where the specs for the touch-berry with slide-out keyboard may come in. I remember seeing the patent application for the touch+keybaord almost a year ago. That would make the device different enough to sell to other markets.

Shana714

I wouldn't be having half the fun with my BB if it weren't for Crackberry.com!

matrix2004

I hope by this time next year we have a Storm 2 and a CDMA Iphone on Verizon.

matrix2004

I hope by this time next year we have a Storm 2 and a CDMA Iphone on Verizon.

stratman103

I don't see enough Jolene Blalock on a regular basis.

bellxx

I would love to see the original pearl have the power of the 8900 that would be awsome!

non

I would really like to see the Bold/Curve 8900 touchscreen concept in a slider format. Normal BB curve2 look and the keyboard slides down to reveal a Storm sized touch screen for video and browsing use.

DaFD

Would be nice if we had a Pearl Slide, alongside the Flip and the original.

you know, just thinking about it, the Blackberry may just become four brands:
Pearl series (compact, no touch, either candybar or flip; possibly slide)
Curve Series (full keyboard with touch, different models with possibly minor hardware differences)
Bold Series (full keyboard with trackball and no touch, minor differences in configurations)
Storm series (full touchscreen, possibly expanding to a version with a slide out keyboard)

Anonymous

The Storm concept doesn't really appeal to me, having bought a T-Mobile Wing when it first came out and not being crazy about it. The iPhone would be superior to that but the all-touchscreen concept just doesn't seem practical for my purposes. What I think would be IDEAL is a touchscreen device with the form factor of the Bold. (Read: Palm Treo, but with the Blackberry OS and reputation.) My current phone is a Treo 750 and I am eagerly awaiting the Bold... and the idea of a Bold with a touchscreen is awesome. I am sick of the Treo and WM.

Casper TFG

In the time of credit crisis - waiting and spending NOTHING could ultimately be the best plan.

This is obviously not what gadget makers want to hear and I feel this is why all these half done, half featured, tied to only one provider releases - will fare poorly.

At a time when folks are being careful with spending - its not a good time to rush out half featured gadgets - as folks (like me) will feel its prudent to wait until its really DONE RIGHT.

I think the 'I'm not going to make a move yet crowd' wont tolerate:

Lack of 3G on Blackberry
Lack of WiFi on Blackberry
The poor, low pixel cameras on Blackberry & iPhone
Lack of cut & paste and Flash / You Tube on iPhone

I like a new gadget like the next person, but with the wife in one ear saying "Do you really need that new gadget"? and the TV in the other saying "Hard times ahead" I think its time to make some popcorn, sit back, cuddle up to your existing phone and watch all this stuff play out...

I predict a hard winter for RIM with a slew of half baked,under featured, unpopular releases - and I am on their side!

Good time to be making a MAC VERSION OF DESKTOP (please RIM!)

beamolite

I saw the 8220 flip phone in the flesh yesterday and it's butt ugly. I don't think you will see many Curve owners dumping their phones for this abortion.

SLVR6

I don't think Curve owners were the target for the Pearl flip! Getting noobies in who want a flip form factor is who the Pearl flip is targeting.

Anonymous

Best post. I agree with everything you said.

Stonewall

Hmmmm I thought you are supposed to kill them with kindness then ask? Not chop of their head and say "HEY GIMME A MAC VERSION". That will win the hearts of the RIM Exec's LOL.

Justadye4

it anymore i need the storm ahhhhhhhhhhh

Mr.Torben

... but I was going to make some concessions by upgrading to current gen Bold or Storm.
The form factor of the Bold in order to get 3g speeds(if att gets it working), the curve is the perfect size, i don't want something bigger for the sake of speed.

Having to deal with VZW if I went with a Storm, if the touch screen typing actually is acceptable to me.

If it wasn't for the lack of faster network speeds, the new Javlin would be a no-brainer for me.

If they come out with a touch curve, I may consider it but I would not wait for it if I can get 3g in the curve form factor, which is my only complaint about the current 8320.

waitin4_8350i

I think you are on point, as a raving BBerry fan i myself have made similar logical scenarios and shared with my fellow "Techies" at my office. We are all crackberry.com subscribers and we count on articles such as these to keep us thinking...

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

scottlucky13

Kevin i think you are pretty close in your predictions. I also believe that the smart phone will replace our laptops in the near future. I also think that the smart phone will be like the laptop in the sense that you buy a phone one day then 6 months later it will be obsolete because there will always be something bigger and better. Our technology these days is growing so fast that what are kids are learning in high school will be long gone by the time they are in college or when they graduate.

Also from what i have been reading there are some rumors going around that google is trying to patnet a network that will switch back and forth between any tower or any network. And it will work with whatever phone you have. So it won't matter if you have a storm, bold, curve, etc...it will work anywhere. I think what they are trying to eliminate is having a phone that is carrier specific and stuck under a contract when you want a phone that is only offered by a certain carrier. But who knows! Again its all rumors and speculation. Who knows what the future holds for smart phones or carriers?

Good Article Kevin!

Anonymous

Google couldn't possibly do this. They are a software company, not a hardware company. This would be a project for Qualcomm or Lucent.

The idea of making a phone jump between CDMA and GSM may seem cool right now, but when almost EVERYONE except the Slow team (read: WiMax)is using LTE three years from now- what good would a unified GSM/CDMA radio be, anyway?

sarky

i'd like to make a prediction for a few years, super flip, two screens on the inside one for typing when needed and one with everything else.

Anonymous

guys, after reading this, i really dont know what to do...i was going to get my first BB, the storm for telus, but know that I read about all these BB coming in 2009, i dont know what to do...my contract is up in a year but if i had gotten the storm, i could have received an upgrade...what do u guys think?

Blacklatino

The news of the "future" devices are going to be great for all of us. Unfortunately, like many others, I'm concerned about the potential for repetitive issues with the new devices - when the so called "Flagship" device has yet to be released to the largest market(fingers crossed for 27th). We can only hope that "supply/demand" doesn't cause a repeat of the BOLD.

urbanmyth

The only problems I see with RIM going out of their way to put out a second 3G touch phone for ATT is that A.) ATT's 3G sucks and is barely going to support the bold after scheduled upgrades to the system, and B.) do you really think RIM is going to work on a new model BB with ATT in the next couple a years. If i were RIM with all the crap they have got from ATT regarding getting the BOLd released, I would just give ATT phones they already have brought to market on other carriers that they don't have sales restrictions on.

tmiv44@gmail.com

My prediction is that a Full touch screen (i.e the New brand touch) will take on the Pearl Candy-bar form factor. about as long as the upcoming storm and about as thick, but a lot less wide. Kinda like a mini storm.

the Pearl Flip could also be the benefactor of this transition. A flip phone with full Storm Click through screen on the front and then a sure-type keyboard and 2nd screen on the inside.

Of course what I'd really like to see is a Storm with a Slide out Curve like keyboard from the bottom. But I don't see RIM ever making a slide device. :-(

Vision berry

Anyone hear of the 4G network coming out where they will be supporting Video Talking on the new blackberry vision?

VoltaicShock

To me if VZW wants to compete they need to ease up on some of the things they do.

They need to unlock GPS, that's one reason I switched over to the iPhone, that and I wanted a touchscreen.

I am hoping they unlock the GPS on the Storm. I did switch back so I could get the storm.

I don't really see the point in HD on a mobile phone, if I want to watch a HD movie I will watch it at home.

Now Wi-Fi would be really nice to have.

cbuck

I can't help but feel like my head is spinning from all of this. HAHA! But I will enjoy the great ride of technological awesomesauce that RIM is preparing to present me with. I'm getting the Storm, and after that, I think that I may have to start a collection similar to Kev's. I want a complete arsenal of BlackBerrys at my disposal... what it really comes down to: I dont think I will be able to part with any of them in exchange for another ;)

Casper TFG

To continue the "phones taking over from laptop theory"....

..what the phone makers might be missing is just how much people would pay for the perfect "multi use" device.

5 MP camera with video
G3 / wifi
Good small pocket size

In the UK I paid approx $800 for my unlocked Bold (then sent it back - hating it)

But I would find a decent camera worth.. and extra say.. $400

For decent size for all this I would pay an extra say..

$300

Fo all video / flash media / you tube I would pay say.. an extra $200

So that means I could find - $1,600 for my phone.

GIVE IT TO ME BABY - AH HA! AH HA!

(And all the Crackberry addicts say pretty fly for a Curve guy..)

bitemark

...a flip-out keyboard on a device like the Storm or the iphone. That way I can have the best of both worlds. I wouldn't mind using a touchscreen keyboard sometimes, but I don't want it to be my only input option.

Mind you, I'm really curious to try the Storm. I did try my friend's iphone, and while the on-screen typing wasn't *too* annoying, I'd hate it if it was my default input method.

PvT

** FYI - I'm not really a Trekkie (have nothing against those who are though... I'm just too busy on my CrackBerry), but will admit to having watched more than a few episodes of Star Trek Enterprise just to see T Pol. Hottest Vulcan EVER. **

Hey I'm diggin that. T Pol "dancer" can give me a vulcan nerve pinch any time.

My Bold is so last week, I'm excited to see what shows up in the transporter from planet RIM. Maybe I can get some Holideck time and try them all out now. T Pol and 7of9 would definitely both be there with me :~)

Vulcan Nerve Pinch me & Beam me up

NamelessLiar

Flag on the play!

Excessive use of Star Trek references. That'll be a 15-minute BlackBerry time-out penalty and a loss of 5 dates. Repeat 3rd down.

=P

PvT

I accept the penalty :~|

Duvi

I will be a very poor man in 2010. I can't wait!

Good stuff.

joewtf

seriously i think that seeing the curve or the bold or javeline as touch screen would be irrealistic... the idea of seeing these phones becoming touch screen is not realy a good way to look into blackberry these phones arent realy made for it the scren is too small the touch screen would lookjust like the stupid palm treo 700wx and that would be a disaster the idea of keeping certain models more conventional should be the prefect idea people could support.