Blackberry 6 and Torch – Hands on and First Take

RIM announced the new Blackberry 6 platform and new Torch handheld today at a press conference in NY. My hands on and first take are the subject this week’s Slash Gear column. While I think RIM did a good job and will likely keep the Blackberry diehards, it’s not clear that there’s enough here that we haven’t seen before to be attractive to iPhone or Android users using the latest of those devices. Are you thinking of a new smartphone? Does the Torch move the dial for you as a possible contender?

According to RIM, this is the best BlackBerry ever and I don’t dispute that. Users who require a Blackberry for work standards will find the Torch the object of their desire. The question is, will the Torch be bright enough to lure users away from the latest and greatest Android devices, iPhone 4 and a newly re-invigorated Microsoft Windows Phone 7? At the moment, if you’re a diehard BlackBerry user, there’s a lot to love but in terms of the state of the art, RIM hasn’t quite caught up to the leaders of the pack in terms of either device or platform. Was this the right move for RIM? I think it was the move RIM needed to make to at least be on par with most of the features we’ve seen in modern mobile platforms, even if they weren’t the first ones there. With the foundations in place, what RIM needs to do now is move quickly to raise the bar even further with more compelling hardware and software features; not merely be satisfied following the leaders but once again taking the pole position.

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