August 3rd, 2010
08:13 PM GMT
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NEW YORK - If imitation is one of the most sincere forms of flattery, than Steve Jobs should feel pretty good right about now.

BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion is so concerned that Apple's iPhone is starting to chip away at its corporate stronghold that it launched a new touch-screen smartphone to compete. Not only that, they held a glitzy media event in the New York City to unveil it. The phone goes on sale Aug. 12  in the U.S.; release in international markets is expected to follow in the next few months.

Taking a page right from Apple the venue was trendy and the music hip, but that is pretty much where the similarities ended.

Apple has cool in its DNA and well, RIM are engineers at heart. Company president Mike Lazaridis wore a suit and tie during the presentation. The other executives, while clearly knowledgeable, nervously struggled with the teleprompter. It was a little painful to watch.

In the end though press events are fleeting. It is the phone that counts and it looks like BlackBerry did its homework.

The Torch has a touch screen and a pull out keyboard, which appeal to people who still like a keyboard for email.

They also put a lot of work into the operating system to beef up their apps and connections to social networking.

I sat down with Lazaridis directly afterwards and he was really excited about the universal search and display functions.

Watch my interview with BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis

As we know, they face tough competition with Apple and Google. When I asked him why they were bothering to chase the consumer market he said: "We have learned that although every consumer is not a business person, every business person is a consumer."

Their core customer demands more than just security and he knows it.

It also seems that a tablet may be in their future. He said expect some more great mobile devices from RiM.

Speaking of security, he was much less forthcoming about the situation in the United Arab Emirates where officials are threatening a BlackBerry blackout if RIM doesn't provide government access to encrypted data for security investigations. BlackBerry messages are routinely encrypted.

When I asked him about the ban, Lazaridis adamantly defended their policy, saying "We will not give up the security of our product to our enterprise customers."

He would not say whether they were in discussions with the UAE or other governments in the region.

I'd love to know what you users out there think. Are you worried about BlackBerry blackout zones? Are you willing to give the Torch a try? Could this finally be an iPhone killer?

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Filed under: BusinessTechnology

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. John

    I hope it is better than the piece of crap they called the Storm. After that fiasco I am in no rush to 'upgrade'.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  2. Bill Alfonzo

    When will it be released?

    August 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  3. John Tjon

    RIM got a very nice phone. the extra KB seems thoughtful, I think, mainly business people would like to stick to BB. iPhone got a strong back-end software database which cover a lot of utilities and future usage. RIM may develop business-like apps that suits the enterprise world, something like links to databses, remote access to servers, etc.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  4. Mustak

    The BB ban here in the UAE is a surprise and will be a great inconvinience to those who are entirely dependent...but I guess the government has the right to do so to proctect national security. Moreover as we now know RIM has double standards when it comes to security issues in developed and developing nations. I am sure RIM does not want to be identified as an arrogant corporation unwilling to comply with legal requirements of the country they operate in.
    Forget Blackberry and Iphone, Android seems to be catching up !

    August 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  5. bremont

    hold tight the emirates is a dictatorship and the Saudi Arabia domain is worse. in fact I would beef up the security. let the customer feel safe, moreover quality above quantity. and folks will come running to the rim

    August 3, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  6. Diana Morales

    I have a blackberry bold 9700. I would be willing to try the Iphone. Maybe I could used blackberry desktop manager.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  7. Salem Ahmed

    I am a user of blackBerry in UAE and I think RIM should not give up the security of users information, we should not allow this to happen, they have no right to look at all of our information and emails , and we know why, if they are really worried about the country security let them first fight the mafia and drug trafficking and human trafficking in dubai not our emails and chats messages ,
    all of our media is controlled and monitored , black berry was the only service and device we can exchange our thought and jokes about what is happening in the country , we are not working against our country and we are only normal users , but still the government want to control everything in the country even if it was a joke, all media and news papers and even comments in the news papers are monitored and controlled and only posted if it with the government view

    etisalat , is blocking even human rights pages, and we should not allow that to happen to the bB , even if we lost the service and our devices we dont want RIM to give up , because it will follow and will lose control in other countries
    we all know that some people might use it in a wrong way , but the case here is our last right to have a way which has no control from the government

    August 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  8. Saul

    i believe RIM is great company, they did their time in creating e-mail services and security of data. I have Blackberry and I am not disappointed, everything works just fine, the battery lasts long, the quality of calls is great, the keyboard is nothing but amazing for quick texting and so on. Also Blackberries are much "Closed" than other devices, they do not as many apps like Apple or Android. However, many people are using BB's and wont change it for anything else.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  9. gcm007

    night iphone

    August 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  10. Herbert

    BlackBerry is such a great mobile phone I have ever used. And there are other great competitors such as I-Phone and Android that seem to threaten BlackBerry's strong presence in the market.

    However, what makes BackBerry greatly appeal to consumers are not the entertainment functions its competitors strongly appeal to highly social and fun-loving consumers.

    Just like Landrover Defender lovers, some consumers highly praise BlackBerry for its user-friendliness, reliability, and core-vital-function oriented nature.

    As a profit seeking organization, it is envitable for BlackBerry to maximize profit share by expanding the consumer target groups. However, the company shall not defuse its identity too much with Apple's.

    Adding uncessary entertainment functions might result in following the footstep of Sony Playstation that turned its customers away to XBox with its price.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  11. Paris

    Definitely not a 'iPhone killer', but a good step in the right direction. Without this move, many large companies would begin discounting the value of security over the freedom and productivity provided by more consumer driven devices.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  12. David Clive Price (writer)

    Although I am a great Apple fan, and have the I-Pad as well as several Apple computers, I use a Blackberry for convenience in both Hong Kong and London (ie two Blackberries). My assistants also use Blackberries.

    I would be much more interested in the Torch upgrade from Blackberry than i-Phone 4. The slide keyboard will be a killer for e-mail and texts, and the variety of new social + networking apps are just what is missing in the current versions. No need to change to Apple, in other words. And I thought I'd never say that!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  13. Kyle

    I am from the Waterloo Region In Ontario and decided to upgrade to a BB a couple of years ago to support the local company. It has probably been the best investment I have made to date. I Cant stand the Apples touch screen and makes no sense to me for why it is the cool thing in phones. I will probably upgrade my BB Bold to the though torch :D

    August 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Scott

    @ John Tjon
    RIM already has the business apps that link to databases and provide remote access to servers. That is one of my favorite features of BB. I know Google is touting the cloud, but I work in government and we are not likely to put the data we have in a cloud for access from anywhere. That's where RIM and BES excel, we can provide secure remote access to our server based files. This is on top of the first rate email / message functionality and notifications. The Torch looks like a great step forward for RIM, though not the iPhone killer CNN is proclaiming it may be. They are two different tools for two different uses each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  15. Luc T.

    What RIM fails to understand is that most people now buy a package phone / software / apps. Blackberry phones are pretty good but RIM fails miserably on the other two fronts:

    Blackberry Desktop Manager is pretty archaic and in desperate need of updating (cannot synch with Outlook 2010... please).

    Apps... limited, even more limited if you happen to live in Australia where we are not allowed to have access to any paid apps.

    Love the new Torch design (exactly what I want) but unless Rim can fix these other two points my next phone will be an iphone or an android based phone.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  16. Caommandante

    if they bring a phone from 9 havens with all funky capabilities... i would never become an AT&T customer... it is a company of 1900s... hate their guts...

    August 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  17. Cammandante

    iphone is a phenomenon it can not be killed... anything defined as iphone killer accepts the defeat against iphone... what a funny conundrum

    August 3, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  18. Hip Hop Dude

    Blackberries are for accountants, Republicans, and social losers. If you own a blackberry, it means you probably can't sing, dance, debate, or slam in the sack.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  19. Donah

    ´Have Apple and PC computers but no BB nor iPhone so have nothing to say about the fones. Am awaiting the iPhone 4 and may buy a BB just for curiosity to see who´s what and what´s which..
    So hold your horses and I´ll be back...
    From teh GripeVine.... & Donah..//

    August 3, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  20. Winston Court

    I am tired of cell phone hardware makers dribbling out a new hardware device now and then. How about just a USB Dongle which is a receiver and transmitter capable of doing all protocols, data transmission on all phone frequencies? Then, the rest of the phone is only software, it can be updated at will. This USB device can plug into any netbook, notebook, laptop, etc., with the software loaded up, off you go to cell phone heaven. The power of the phone is only limited by the software. We will also need a new computer hardware platform to use the USB dongle on-–something shirt-pocket sized. This would allow you to “run the phone” on any hardware platform you choose, and to move it to any hardware platform you choose. It seems like electronic hardware manufactures are keeping the “separate-device-mindset” going. They have people ready to purchase a separate TV, a separate stereo, a separate phone, ereader, etc., etc., etc. It is about time to end this. Everything should just be a peripheral which will run on any computer hardware platform, with proper software. But, until joe-six-pack-public becomes literate enough to demand such advanced offerings of high tech equipment and capabilities, manufacturers will be quite happy to keep selling you devices to only do one task. This needs to end quickly! If you don't understand all of this, show this text to your neighborhood nerd, he/she will bring you up to speed. Until then, just grab a USB HD TV Dongle with software for your computer off of ebay (make sure it is the proper specification for American TV) and at least have a high tech TV!

    August 4, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  21. Sal

    I recently changed from the BB to the iPhone. While the iPhone is great for surfing the web, getting directions if you're lost and playing on facebook, I cannot stand the touch screen for texting and emails. I adored my BB and was a speed champion texter. I've written essays on that keyboard! My email communication has really suffered since switching to the iPhone. I started drooling as soon as I saw the picture of the Tourch. Love that keyboard! Can't wait to get it!

    August 4, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  22. alfredo

    BB should not, under any circumstances, cave to the UAE or SArabia. I bet a few high-placed men are upset that their women-folk have been securely texting. Like all good paternalistically totalitarian, stone age regimes, official "spin" is mandated and it shall be "SECURITY!" It isn't "security", folks. There are many other more urgent security problems that can be addressed in these nations without going after the low-hanging fruit, blackberries.

    August 4, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  23. stak

    The BlackBerry(BB) is such a great phone,( I have a storm2-obviously- i'm biased). I also think RIM is a very good company. As far as Iphone killer, Android Killer, I'm not sure about that. I don't think any of these devices are going to be "killing" each other. The BB, iphone, and android phones, all have dedicated users. I for can't envision switching to another device, though i wish RIM gets a touchscreen phone out with a front camera. and if they bring out a tablet, count me in.

    As for the impending UAE ban, guess i'm only going to be going down there, when i feel my life is in my touchscreen. Blacklist my BB, and you'r off my flylist.

    August 4, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  24. Hans

    BB security is great, perhaps greater than there phones. I wouldn't want to give up so. And of course these governments are not only after terrorist. You can be sure that industrial espionage is their primary goal.

    Blackberry, please stick to your principals!

    August 4, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  25. Alex

    The first sentence of this article already sums up the biased view of the writer. Just because this phone has a touch screen doesn't mean it is imitating the iphone. It is a slider with an actual keyboard, thats a pretty massive difference, it also has more than one button. Oh, and it can make phone calls without having to worry about bad touching it.

    August 4, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  26. Aaron

    Although I'm a fan of Apple's design, their execution sometimes falls short. Sure, the iPhone 4 is a great entertainment device, but at the end of the day, it doesn't even compare to BlackBerry in terms of being a killer communication and social networking tool. I have tried out Android phones and have found while Android is a great platform, the hardware is always cheap feeling and lacks a certain cachet. BlackBerry has the rock solid hardware and now the OS and browser to go along with it. What most people can't understand is that it's not trying to be the iPhone or an Android device, and that's a good thing.

    August 4, 2010 at 3:57 am |
  27. Lucky Lenny

    The BlackBerry Torch will continue RIMM’s strangehold on the business user; as well as recapture much of the consumer market. Compared to Apple & Droid, BB easily wins out on security & physical keyboard; looks about tied in browsing experience; and really delivers on data compression. It’s very rare you have an unclear or dropped call on a BB.

    August 4, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  28. Rodney

    Blackberry's great advantages:
    1. Battery life
    2. Wifi Tethering
    3. UMA calling
    4. Data and Voice at the same time

    I tried the Evo and what a nightmare! Battery lastes about 20 minutes. Battery life is a HUGE problem in the android phones.
    Also it's not possible to talk and browse! What good is that?

    I am very curious how the Torch will deal with these issues. Will RIM sacrifice these current advantages? I hope not.

    August 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  29. abvr

    Biz or no biz, bb have its weakness in providing application decent application memory... i mean cmon RIM, what the hell i am suppose to do with 1gig of memory with 2gig of media memory, download 100 zillion pictures?? Iphone 32gig, movies, apps, games and watever your need is, its all there and 32gig never runs out...

    August 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  30. Hammour

    well BB should respect the local regulations of the U.A.E they are there to do business they should adapt to the country not the UAE adapt to BB.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  31. James Ross

    I agree about the Storm. It was a joke!

    August 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  32. Martin

    I am a BB user and also made the mistake to upgrade to the Storm what a disaster. I could not deal with it and was forced to downgrade to a BOLD after only 3 months. I will be worried to upgrade only to have to downgrade again or change to iPhone.

    August 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  33. Shubham

    I am using the blackberry 9500 Storm and had always prayed for a storm that has slide keyboard and a better OS. My prayers have been heard and I am going to grab one.

    August 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  34. Farooq (London, UK)

    I agree with John, hope this is an improvement to the STORM which was completely pants, been a longtime BB user and went from PEARL to STORM2 which was a huge disappointment, now back to 9700 which is great!! Maybe BB should just steer clear of touch screen and stick to what they do best?

    August 4, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  35. adedoyin

    if It is anything to go by, I am sure the technology would be a better improvement from the Storm series, I own a storm 1, its improvements in the latter series hasn't been convincing at all.

    August 10, 2010 at 3:30 am |
  36. Antwerp

    I use the BB storm 1 for over a year now, dropped it 6 times, has2 cracks on the touchscreen, spilt coca cola over it, and believe it or not it still works great.

    I don't understand why people dont like its touchscreen, I love it and it types great altho I have to say that like SE has done it with just a normal layout of the number pad with dictionary turned on works best for me, specially while driving (I'd recommend the w880i, its still a great great great small handy phone just for phone conversations and texting, worn out 4 of those in the past few years) :p

    I didnt buy the storm 2 because I really didnt see why I should other than that it has a wifi connection. But i cant cant wait for the Torch. If Apple is for BMW drivers, Android for Audi drivers, then BB must be for Mercedes owners (preferably the S-class, like I do ;) )

    August 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  37. mike faygen

    Why is it that 75% of the comments posted have the most awful spelling mistakes or simply lazy spelling? If you want to have your comments posted for all the world to see, make an effort to spell correctly and to craft your phrases better than a three year old might do! May I suggest that everyone proof read their contribution before posting?

    August 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  38. Brett

    I'm Canadian and proud of RIM, but really, they've dropped the ball, I don't see them lasting long as a leader.

    August 12, 2010 at 2:34 am |
  39. Tamas

    I am not sure why everyone is falling apart for Blackberry and its emailing. EVERY brand mobile offer that for 4-5 years now. It is really amazing how marketing can fool people. Like the iPhone announced as internet phone :) rediculuos, again, EVERY brand offer that for several years.
    Sony Ericsson's X10 is way much better device than any of these crapy nooby early trials. very soon the android 2.1 will be available then it over rocks all these toys.

    August 13, 2010 at 6:02 am |
  40. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Maggie darling,
    It's so wonderful that almost all people in Europe and the United States have Black Berry phones.They sell for a lot here in Nigeria .No thanks to the almost valueless Naira.Of course there are other brands especially Nokia that serve my purposes.
    It's been quite exciting watching you on the job and I must say you're still quite gorgeous and adorable. Lovely and lovable are the words.I just couldn't resist writing you after watching your video interview with the Black Berry founder , Mr Lazaridis.
    I have also read your profile several times over and I'm fascinated about your achievements. Greetings to the rest of the team.Cheers.
    It's me,
    Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    August 14, 2010 at 3:03 am |
  41. BB-heartbroken

    If not for a free company phone, I would not use it any more. BB storm II is a piece of crab, always hang and hang.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:11 am |

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