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RIM says that software glitches are now the norm for complex devices

The smartphone market is booming and the most popular of the smartphones is the Apple iPhone. With the sales figures the touch-enabled iPhone is racking up, it's no surprise that virtually all of the cell phone makers have rushed devices to market to compete with the iPhone.

One of the competitors that many had high hopes for was the Blackberry Storm. The Storm was the first touch screen device to come from Blackberry. Unfortunately for Blackberry, the Storm received some of the worst reviews of any Blackberry device.

The problem according to many users is that the Storm is besieged with bugs that hamper performance and results in overall sluggish performance. RIM, the maker of the Blackberry handsets, didn’t apologize for the problems with the handset. Rather RIM co-chief Jim Balsillie said that scrambles to launch products on time and software glitches are part of the "new reality" of making complex phones in large volumes.

Smartphone users are to assume, according to Balsillie, that it is normal for a device that barely functions to be rushed out simply to meet the Black Friday shopping rush. The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the matter say that RIM moved 500,000 Storm's in the first 30 days after its November 21 launch.

By comparison, the Apple iPhone 3G moved 2.4 million units in its first quarter on the market. The iPhone now holds about 16.6 percent of the global smartphone market. Balsillie says that RIM considers the Storm an overwhelming success and is making 250,000 devices per week to keep up with demand.

RIM is working to fix issues with the Storm and to add features that users have asked for. One of the complaints that will be addressed in future updates is that users can’t type on a full keypad in portrait mode, which only allows a keypad with multiple letters at this time. Verizon, the exclusive carrier for the Storm, and RIM released a software update to address some of the early issues with the Storm that the companies claim fixed many of the early complaints users had.

As for returns, Verizon won’t issue a specific number. However, a Verizon spokesman said that the rate of returns for the Strom is in the single digits (percentage wise) and the spokesman says that is normal for any smartphone.

Sources close to the launch say that Verizon and RIM rushed the Storm to market before the software was fully vetted in an attempt to get the Storm into stores in time for holiday shopping, despite glitches in the software and the stability of the operating system.

The Storm's operating system was reported to have been a challenge for RIM because the OS was optimized for Blackberry devices that used keyboards, click wheels, and trackballs for navigation rather than a touch screen. Part of the OS tweaks made was to integrate compatibility for the accelerometer that changed the orientation of the screen when the phone was rotated.

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I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 12:10:07 PM , Rating: 5 wife and I both had/have LG eNV phones...they look like a regular cell phone from thie front, but flip open to reveal a slightly larger screen and full keypad. Her's just died a short while ago, and she chose to upgrade to the LG Voyager...essentially the same phone, but with a full touchscreen on the front, similar to the Storm, iPod, whatever. Still flips open for a real keypad though.

While there, we tried playing with phones that had touchscreen keypads. I can not, for the life of me, wrap my head around any possible way that that's better than a keypad. There's just no way...and I don't care if the screen "clicks" when I push a "button" or not...that is categorically NOT a valuable tactile response. Without segregated, raised and seperated buttons (whether mechanical or something else), there's quite simply *no way* that you can type with the same speed, accuracy, efficiency, so on and so forth. No. Way. And if you forced me to try to live with such a thing for more than the 10 minutes or so that I fussed with a few phones in the store trying to "get it," I think I'd last maybe 30 minutes more before I crushed the stupid gadget under my heel.

As far as I can tell, the whole touchscreen typing thing is a novelty that is supposed to appeal to some imagined form of sophistication and "high-techary." In use, it's crap...and if my employer tried to "upgrade" me to such a device, I'd promptly give it back and request to stay with the "lower-end" know, so it would actually be useful.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 12:47:59 PM , Rating: 4
Hmm, you don't get virtual keyboards?

It allows you to change the keyboard! A physical keyboard is incapable of that. The question is when/why do you need to change the keyboard?
1) Screen orientation changes
2) Input changes: My iPhone has a different keyboard for URLs (a dedicated .com key, for example), email (a dedicated @ key), phone (standard numbers), and text (the standard qwerty).
3) Language changes: My iPhone supports 17 different keyboard layouts.

In any single use the dedicated keyboard is indeed superior, but taken altogether, the virtual keyboard is an advantage. Even if you don't need additional languages, the virtual keyboard allows for 5 (four types plus landscape modifiers) variations that a "hard" keyboard cannot match.

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 12:57:02 PM , Rating: 3
...OK. If you find it necessary to "change the keyboard" in any way...such as to a different language or whatever, you are clearly out of my league. I learned to type roughly 24 years ago, and in that time have never found myself saying "I wish I could change this keyboard..."

Well, other than on my new MSI GT735 laptop, with it's tiny little right Shift key, which frequently pisses me off. But still.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/09, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/09, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 2:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
Evidently you never text or use the alphanumeric keys on your phone then. If you only use your phone for phone numbers then you'll never see it. If you bank by phone, or text, or had to navigate a voicemail system, you will have users remapped keyboard on your phone.

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 3:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
I send a few dozen texts a day. On my phone with the regular, physical, non-virtual keyboard. ???

RE: I don't get it.
By othercents on 1/26/2009 6:36:49 PM , Rating: 2
There is not a one phone fits all (unlike hats which don't usually fit all). Many manufacturers make many different phones and right now the iPhone appeals to those people who don't frequently use the keyboard, but consistently watch videos, music, pictures, facebook, applications, games, and surf the web. This is where the iPhone outshines almost every phone available.

I have people consistently ask if they should get a blackberry storm or blackberry bold. I tell them, if you are going to send less then 10 messages a day you can get use to using the storm touch screen, but if you are having to send 20, 30 or even 100 messages a day you will get frustrated easily. There are also those people who get frustrated easily and don't care about gadgets and just want the phone to ring and be able to call on. They shouldn't even be thinking about a smart phone (see the original poster's comments).

I use an iPhone but because of the changes at my office I will need to switch to a blackberry. My choice will be the bold because I will need to be able to reply to emails better than I have been able to do with the iPhone. I love the iPhone and I am going to miss all my applications and ability to bring up pictures and videos whenever I want and surf the web as if I was at my desktop. I am also going to miss the virtual keyboard when I'm typing text messages to my fiancee in Turkey.

There are always pros and cons, but it is up to the user to determine which is the best for them. If it isn't for you doesn't mean it isn't for someone else.


RE: I don't get it.
By Fusible on 1/26/2009 6:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
You hit it right on the dot, the iPhone is more of a media device, while Blackberry has always been more business oriented. I work with iPhones a lot and I own a Storm...well because service in my area is dominated by Verizon, even though ATT is very large here. Verizon in terms of network service is far better for me in the Bay Area. I at one time had ATT and it was a horror to have, dropped calls left and right. I would rather get the Bold personally, but ATT had lots of network problems with it and was delayed for 6 months on ATT which resulted in it been pushed back on Verizon till Spring time on Verizon. So I'll wait for the Blackberry Pluto, which is it's current codename for the next gen Bold with a touchscreen and physical QWERTY.

RE: I don't get it.
By othercents on 1/26/2009 6:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
So I'll wait for the Blackberry Pluto, which is it's current codename for the next gen Bold with a touchscreen and physical QWERTY.

Oh cooooooll..... I want one too. Damm too bad I have to get a blackberry in 2 weeks. I have no problems with ATT in Denver, so I guess I'm getting a Bold.

RE: I don't get it.
By erikejw on 1/27/2009 10:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
"software glitches are part of the "new reality" "

New and new.
I guess he never used Windows ;)

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 3:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, are you thinking my phone doesn't have a QWERTY keyboard? It does - the LG eNv (or however you capitalize that) has the regular keypad on the front, which you could use, but as noted flip it open and it has the larger screen and full QWERTY keyboard. That's what I'm talking about.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 4:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
That's my point. You use two keyboards already, a numeric and a querty.

My point was the iPhone has support for more than two. Which I know I've used.

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 6:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
...I think you've lost the plot, but since I really can't get at what point you're trying to make, I guess I guve up.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 6:34:32 PM , Rating: 2
My point is that you already use multiple keyboards on your phone, and the value of the iPhone's virtual keyboard is that there is support for more than your two.

Though as another posted, specific "keys" take more or less keystrokes depending on keyboard layout.

RE: I don't get it.
By Alexvrb on 1/26/2009 7:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
I still fail to see a need to reconfigure a QWERTY layout. Look at your computer's keyboard. Do you see a strong need for it to be 1) Customizable and 2) Flat with keys that don't actually depress other than to perhaps vibrate or make the whole keyboard click. There's no way I could type as fast or as accurately on a crappy keyboard like that. Virtual QWERTY is inferior, even once you get used to the downgrade.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 9:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
I never said that the virtual keyboard was superior to a hard keyboard. I was responding as to why it made sense; Motoman said he didn't get it.

A virtual keyboard is more flexible, usable in both landscape and portrait (a hard keyboard isn't), has more options (it turns into a number pad when entering numbers into a numeric text field), and it changes keys in different modes or languages.

Hard keyboards cannot. The issue isn't that the virtual keyboard is better at text entry (it isn't), but that it's better at being flexible.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/27/2009 12:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
You need to reconfigure it when the keyboard is only 2" across. The point is that in order to increase usability you sacrifice something: size of keys, number of keys, or type of keys.

If the iPhone (or any phone) had a 11" keyboard then this wouldn't be an issue.

RE: I don't get it.
By DeepBlue1975 on 1/27/2009 7:29:07 AM , Rating: 2
I do all of those things you've said, and then some more (like editing word documents on my phone).

I hate the keyboard on my n95 quite a bit, but oh boy, after test driving a friend's iphone for a couple of hours at a brithday's party, I really started feeling the n95's keyboard was great in comparison to the touchy-joke.

But hey, touch screens are surely ok for really slow typers that actually need to look at the keys when they type.

As for me, don't give me a touch only device because I'll instantly throw it down the toilet.

Touch screen is really cool for some things, but for others as typing, it sucks big time.

RE: I don't get it.
By Reclaimer77 on 1/26/2009 6:16:20 PM , Rating: 2
I think Michael you are being highly deceptive in your argument.

Yes you CAN change the keyboard virtually. What you are NOT telling him, however, is that to use perenthesis and ampersands on your iPhone for example, you need to hit keys to open up alternative keyboards to access those keys. So what takes him two key presses, takes you nine.

RE: I don't get it.
By othercents on 1/26/2009 6:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
So what takes him two key presses, takes you nine.

Nine?? I hope your joking because I never had to use nine key presses to get something to show up on the iPhone. The nicest feature about the iPhone keyboard is the ability to hold down a key and choose a special character like the ö or ü in Turkish, but only two keyboard presses for most common used special characters and three for the less common used.

The biggest problem people have is not trusting the software built into the phone. Once you start trusting that the phone will fix your mistakes then you will be able to type faster, however not as fast as a built in keyboard.


RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/27/2009 12:30:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not. On my keyboard I can access alpha keys with one touch, numeric+punctionation in two, and esoteric keys in three touches (not 9 as you state).

There may even be a fourth level I haven't explored that would require 4 touches, I don't know.

On a numeric pad it requires four touches to access c, f, i, l, o, and v, and 5 to access s and z, so the iPhone is an improvement there. I don't have a "hard" keyboard to compare to so I don't know about those.

RE: I don't get it.
By BillyBatson on 1/26/2009 8:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
I learned to type roughly 24 years ago, and in that time have never found myself saying "I wish I could change this keyboard..."

Others however have felt the same. Other countries have different layouts and they have trie coming up with a better keyboard that is more efficient than the standard qwerty keyboard. They have slanted keybaords, round keypads, keyboards with no markings on them (das keyboard), and of course now an expensive OLED keyboard where you can change the keys however you would like.
When it comes to phones it becomes even harder to design a comfortable keyboard and a virtual keyboard allows you the flexibility to choose the one that fits you best which might not be the same one that fits me best.

RE: I don't get it.
By Locutus465 on 1/26/2009 11:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I prefer physical keyboards, I type a lot faster on them vs. any virtual keyboard. Also easier to use in awkward situations such as trying to press phone keys in the car.

My windows mobile smart phone offers both options in various forms and I typically opt for the good old fashioned hardware keyboard. It just works better, that's all there is to it.

RE: I don't get it.
By Souka on 1/26/2009 2:02:23 PM , Rating: 3
Hey Motoman,

Amazingly millions of iPhone users seem to manage with their touchscreen keyboards...

Nice thing is with Blackberry(RIM).. instead of being stuck on that interface, you can just go get a Bold 9000 model and have your physical keyboard back.

My $.02

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 3:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
...I have a BB 8330 from work, which is OK. Keyboard is smaller than my LG, but it works.

Clearly, people buy things with touchscreen keyboards - they work. My point is that there is nothing "better" about them. They have no inherent advantage over a regular button keyboard. It is my assertion that they do, however, have many disadvantages...such as accuracy and speed. Not to mention fragility...

It has been my observation that what people buy, and what is a better product, are not as correlated as one might think. Especially where style and perception is involved. Is it "cool" that you can type on the touchscreen? Sure. But it's not as good for typing as a regular button keyboard.

RE: I don't get it.
By othercents on 1/26/2009 6:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
My point is that there is nothing "better" about them.

The keyboard isn't the only feature of a phone. While you give up accuracy and tactile feel, you gain a larger screen which allows you to do more. If there was another iPhone available with a slide out keyboard I believe that that phone would sell just as many as the standard phone they currently sell. However people choose the iPhone over other phones because of the iTunes integration, applications, photos, and web browsing. Those were the exact reasons why I gave up my other phone that had a keyboard and moved over the the iPhone.

There are other phones available now with keyboards, but none of them are as good as the iPhone in all other areas especially applications. G1 is good with the web and on par with the iPhone, but their music and video service isn't as good and their apps are still behind. This is probably the closest phone I could think of using to replace everything I have in the iPhone.


RE: I don't get it.
By Villains on 1/26/2009 5:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the old people just cant get used to it.

I have no problems typing on my touch screen on my IPod Touch, same as the IPhone. I can actually type pretty fast now.

It figures a few people wont be able to get on board with the touch screen technology. It just like always when something new comes out and someone whos been using some older tech, cant get used to the new tech, so they come up with a bunch of reason why the new tech is garbage.

Its not garbage, its just you that cant adjust.

RE: I don't get it.
By Mortando on 1/26/2009 5:43:50 PM , Rating: 3
Heh, you're right; people couldn't possibly *legitimately* prefer physical keyboards... with their distinct key separation, real tactile response, and consistent key layout. Nah, they must just be 'adjustment impaired'.

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 6:11:23 PM , Rating: 3
No kidding. My generation is the first one that actually grew up with abstracted interface devices (like Pong paddles and Atari 2600 joysticks). It's not like 30-somethings are unaccustomed to such things. The fundamental fact is that a flat surface *can not*, in real, immutable, physical terms, provide the same kind of typing interface as a real keyboard. It just simply can't in the same manner that you can't learn to throw a football better by mastering Maddon '09.

And my point isn't that I can't "adjust" - anyone can adjust to anything. My point has been that there has been a propaganda around such interfaces as being somehow "better" - my only point during this whole thing is that not only are they not "better," but in adjusting to them, you actually lose out - in this case, in terms of speed and accuracy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to soak my dentures and get back on my ventilator.

RE: I don't get it.
By noirsoft on 1/26/2009 6:58:45 PM , Rating: 3
And now is where I point out that Windows Mobile phones have had both touchscreens and full QWERTY keyboards on the same device for YEARS.

The advantage of touchscreens is the ability to more easily select objects on the screen than with a 4-way, trackball or other pseudo-pointing device. Virtual keyboards on a touchscreen objectively inferior to real tactile keyboards, and anyone who tells you differently is just blinded by device loyalty (*cough* iPhone RDF *cough*) and does not know what they are talking about.

Now, some manufacturers choose to do away with physical keyboards on touchscreen enabled devices. This is usually to save on cost or electronic complexity, though some (Apple) do it just out of spite, it seems. Yes, a virtual keyboard can (poorly) serve as a qwerty keyboard, just as T9 can use a standard phone keypad to type, but it is nowhere near as efficient or accurate.

RE: I don't get it.
By Motoman on 1/26/2009 9:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
I concur.

RE: I don't get it.
By michael2k on 1/26/2009 9:15:01 PM , Rating: 2
Apple probably went to a virtual keyboard because it allows for 17 different keymaps in a single device.

In other words, one device, 23 different countries supported.

As opposed to hard keyboards where you at least need to re-silkscreen the actual devices, and possibly change the character mappings, which limits how fast you can release your device.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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