Blackberry! I Feel The Need For Speed

One of the reasons I believe Blackberry has been lagging in the mobile application download numbers is very simple: speed.

While for some people, the less snazzy interface, a lack of touch across most devices, a poorer selection of apps are the reasons not to use a Blackberry, for many this is not an issue.

In fact:

  • a tangible tactile keyboard
  • and bundled international data roaming

..are the two factors which keep me firmly a loyal and loving Blackberry user (RIM take note: do NOT break either of these things for me, although I appreciate the second is in co-operation with the carriers).

The Blackberry App Store hasn’t actually been at all bad, even since version one. Yes it has had fewer apps to choose from, but in reality most of us spend 80-90% of our time using the same handful of apps. The biggest problem with app stores in general remains discoverability and nobody has done a good job on solving that problem with their app stores.

Maverick’s supersonic – be there in thirty seconds

Speed of response and interaction is an often under-rated factor when building internet or mobile software products. Speedy interaction can mean that an otherwise average user flow, does not necessarily damage the user experience. An extra click or tap here and there doesn’t matter as much if the response is immediate and you still feel progression through whatever task you’re doing. With a fast UI user engagement can be increased. Of all people, Google Search knows this well and it remains a cornerstone of Google design.

I’ve been using the current flagship RIM device, the Blackberry Torch, for 6 months. I have a love/ hate relationship with it. The main problem (apart from the keyboard being far less awesome than the previous Blackberry Bold) is that it is underpowered. Either it has a processor which is too slow or it has some very inefficient software – my bet is the former.

Application downloads are all about instant gratification: see it, want it, install it. Rinse and repeat. This addictive process is broken on the BB Torch, because although the software supports concurrent downloads the hardware can’t cope. The dreaded clock timer appears frequently, browsing for other apps becomes sluggish (and impossible if downloading 2 or more apps in parallel) and when you come to install an app the entire phone is unsuable, with a permanent ticking timing to entertain you instead. Worse, it can sometimes take 5 full mins to install the app then another 5 minutes while the phone reboots.

Contrast this with iPhone or Android where I can upgrade or install multiple apps and happily carry on browsing.

Android can download and install multiple apps without it slowing the device significantly

RIM’s new operating systems may even run Android apps (so goes the rumours). This may confuse consumers as much as it makes some happy – that is another discussion – but one things is for sure: we live in an impatient, want-it-all-now world. As consumers, our expectations are incredibly high. A flagship modern smartphone needs to be passing the instant gratification finish line at full speed, if it wants to win in this market.

Maverick, call the ball

Blackberry is currently failing to feed our glutinous consumption driven side. That is a pity, as for a long time it was the only smartphone which would truly multi-task and it was fast. I loved my Blackberry Bold all the more for that fact; flipping between apps which would maintain their state was a joy.  I could beat my friends on their iPhones and Android devices to a Google Maps place at a cinch. I laughed at the early iPhone users as they swapped back and forth re-opening their email or messaging apps, but I’m laughing no more.

Let’s hope whatever the new range of Blackberrys look like, they put powerful enough processors inside, without compromising famous Blackberry battery life, which still remains best in class.

..apologies for the gratuitous Top Gun references 😉