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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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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.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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