Torch rolls up to the RIM

John Gushue
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Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM) fired a long, long-awaited salvo Tuesday by unveiling its forthcoming Torch, which it hopes will rattle Apple’s iPhone from its dominance in the smartphone market.

As the saying goes, good luck with that.

I use both a BlackBerry (for work) and various Apple products (at home), and I actually like both products. That said, I’ve been more than a little frustrated over time that my so-called BlackBerry smartphone is so very far behind what an iPhone can do.

RIM is pushing out not just a new phone, but a new operating system, and seems hell-bent for leather to grab back market share (and the innovation flag) from Apple, not to mention Google’s upstart Android. Although it’s been in the shadows, RIM still holds a healthy slice of the market — it’s No. 2 in sales — but it’s clearly ceded the buzz factor to its competitors.

So, I’m pretty curious about how things will shake out. Cellphones have been an essential part of the workplace for at least a generation, but phones have become absolutely key for practically every online provider. I love what Apple is doing, but — as both a consumer and a web-content producer — I also want lots of variety and choice in the marketplace. Everyone is better served that way.

BlackBerry Torch

The official BlackBerry blog introduces the phone and lays out for prospective audiences what they can expect. My first impression: RIM is trying to have it both ways. Like the iPhone, the new BlackBerry will have a full touch-screen. But thanks to a sliding design, it also has a full qwerty-style keyboard.

I’m sure many Apple fanatics will roll their eyes; a slider may be pretty, but it shows that BlackBerry is still rooted in an “old-fashioned” design rut.

I don’t agree with that. I love the touch and feel of the iPhone (and the iPod Touch, which has become a beloved device in our house), but I also depend regularly on the keyboard of my BlackBerry. After all, the notes I tap out are precise and can be rather long, and a decent keyboard makes that possible.

Still, we’re only looking at pictures right now. We’ll see in a few weeks whether BlackBerry’s new Torch fires up the marketplace.


Elsewhere this week


Angry Birds

It’s the top-selling app on iTunes in Canada. And the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Taiwan … and Macedonia, Latvia and Malta, plus many other countries listed in a well-deserved bit of boasting from the manufacturer of this addicting little game. Kids will love the cartoons; adults will feel challenged to beat their progress in a game that makes you think hard about your strategy in bringing down a series of targets. There are other physics-based games around, but none with the zany birds bent on revenge and comic destruction. (Stumped? You can get a separate walkthrough app … for a price, of course.)


I Choose N.L.

A few weeks ago, I got an invitation to head to a Facebook page called I Like N.L. Naturally, I did, out of curiosity as much as anything else. I happen to like motherhood and apple pie, too, and my initial thought was that this was a bit of a no-brainer, in terms of its public appeal. A quick exchange of notes revealed that it’s a social media campaign launched by m5, the St. John’s communications consulting company. So far, the campaign has drawn in thousands of people, all connected with a minimal investment — a demonstration, if nothing else, that social media can have powerful effects.


John Gushue is a web editor with CBC News in St. John’s. Twitter: @johngushue.


Organizations: Apple, Google, CBC News

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., Germany Taiwan Macedonia Latvia Malta

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