BlackBerry needs a winner. Not just a meh-device to appease its loyal legions, but something that can elevate them back to their superstar status of the aughts. So far, they haven't had the great month they need, but today they announced in a press release a line of revamped BlackBerry Curves, their popular low-end models. Unfortunately it looks like the snazzy-ish new-ish devices, like the BlackBerry 7 smartphones earlier this month, are just too ish to have much of an effect.
BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion hopes to appeal to those looking for an affordable yet stylish smartphone, as they explain in their press release. Yet those looking to upgrade their phone probably wanted to do it sooner, as Endgadget's Sharif Sakr points out. "The question is, is this device enough of an upgrade, considering it's been
two years a year since the last refresh in the Curve series?"
And even if those yearning for a Curve update haven't already forgone their BlackBerry's for an iPhone or Android, the newest device doesn't impress, continues Sakr. "The Curve 9360 runs the new BlackBerry 7, which we've come to regard as prematurely aged. It just feels a bit dusty and not a sufficient upgrade compared to its predecessor." The BlackBerry 7 OS is better, but not good enough, explains ComputerWorld's Matt Hamblen. "While analysts have noted the BlackBerry 7 OS is a marked improvement over previous versions, mainly for its improved browser, they say that most of RIM's hopes for success will depend on new devices running the QNX operating system."
Yet if the newest devices can keep a younger, student demographic hooked, they might not be in so much trouble, argues ZDNet's Zack Whittaker. "I still believe students should opt for something either they can afford or invest in for productivity and equally entertainment--the release of more phones shows Research in Motion may not be in as much trouble as we all think it is." And the latest models have some draws for students, like updated social media apps, complimentary Documents to Go Premium editing software, and an NFC chip, which, in the nebulous future, could use for mobile payments. And, of course, they retail cheaper.
But even if these add-ons attract and keep kids, the problem with relying on that strategy, as Whittaker notes, is that if the new Curves fail to draw that core demographic, the company will be in even bigger trouble. "Though the business market for its BlackBerry brand is crucial to maintain, students and younger people are a crucial focal point for the company."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.