RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 Hits Canada; Botched U.S. Launch Imminent?
By Al Sacco
Research In Motion (RIM) sure has been busy lately: the company recently released four brand new smartphones in half as many months. Perhaps that’s why the November U.S. launches of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the Storm 9530 were so ugly? And if so, does that mean we can expect a similarly bungled launch when the new Curve 8900, which is expected in early 2009, finally lands in the United States?
The Pearl 8220 U.S. launch was a smooth one—in fact, neither T-Mobile nor RIM really publicized the release and since there weren’t any major issues, it largely went unnoticed, except perhaps by smartphone enthusiasts.
But the Bold and Storm launches are another story altogether. Initially introduced in May, the BlackBerry Bold was expected to become widely available last summer, and though it was launched (almost) on-time in a number of countries including Canada, software issues and problems with AT&T’s 3G network delayed the Bold’s U.S. debut until just last month, frustrating customers in RIM’s largest market and drawing loads of criticism from analysts, bloggers, potential users and others.
The BlackBerry Storm experienced a similarly marred launch, due to the extremely poor-quality OS code on the first units Verizon shipped, which led to overwhelmingly negative first impressions from bloggers and reviewers—even the venerable David Pogue got in a few nice jabs—and led to disappointment for many CrackBerry addicts. Combined with the mass hype Verizon generated around the Storm via “leaked” materials and TV spots, the Storm’s OS issues made for one of the sloppiest product releases in recent memory.
So far, the Canadian launch of the 8900 has been a smooth one, and the initial reviews appear to be mostly positive—that’s to say, no major software issues have been reported as of yet. Those are both good signs, and I honestly hope no new issues pop up.
But considering the recent track records of RIM and its carrier partners, I’m weary. I think I’ll wait until a few weeks after the device is available in the States, before I dub the Curve 8900 launch a success.