With its hefty price tag and software quickly approaching its sell-by date, the upcoming Bold 9900 from RIM isn’t bold, it’s brash.
RIM announced the Bold 9900’s pending release Wednesday morning, and it’s one of five new smartphones RIM will debut before year’s end. On paper, the Bold 9900 looks like a strong smartphone contender. It runs the new BlackBerry 7 operating system, RIM’s latest software update to the mobile platform.
It’s also a hybrid device, so those who don’t want to lose a QWERTY keyboard to a new touchscreen can have both. And it runs on T-Mobile’s 4G network, which has decent enough data upload and download speeds.
But then you see the price tag, and it starts to fall apart.
The Bold costs a whopping $350 off the shelf, and that’s after a two-year service contract with T-Mobile. Even industry-leading Apple and Google aren’t charging that much for handsets. The priciest iPhone with 32 gigs of storage costs $300 with a Verizon contract, while most Android phones we’ve seen on contract will run you $200 to $250, max.
Fortunately, there is a $50 mail-in rebate for the Bold 9900. Just don’t forget to fill it out.
The Bold 9900 comes at a time when Canada’s Research in Motion has taken a beating. The PlayBook tablet flopped like a carp on a dock, which led Verizon to question whether to offer a 4G version. Sprint offers a Wi-Fi version of the PlayBook but decided last week to cut its losses and scrap a 4G version.
The Bold carries more caveats than its price. RIM is developing a new smartphone operating system powered by QNX, the operating system in the PlayBook. While the phone-based version of QNX isn’t ready for prime time, RIM honcho Mike Lazaridis says we’ll see phones running QNX next year. Trouble is, it won’t roll back to older BlackBerry devices, so if you buy a Bold 9900, Torch 9810 or anything else RIM released this year, you’re out of luck when the new OS arrives.
RIM needs to push out a winning product, and soon. So far, the Bold, Torch and three other devices RIM promises this year leave us yawning — and we’re not alone. With a dwindling market share, an ongoing soap opera of internal corporate struggles, and two major competitors making major mobile moves (Google-Motorola Mobile marriage, anyone?), all eyes are now on RIM to see what — if anything — the company has up its sleeve.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 launches on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network Aug. 31.
- By Mike Isaac Wired