Daniel Eran Dilger
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Engadget: iPhone Lookalike BlackBerry 9000 is “Sexy.” Umm, not so much.

Daniel Eran Dilger
Engadget profiled RIM’s new iPhone styled BlackBerry 9000 (above on the right, aping the iPhone’s chrome and black style but lacking its touchscreen), calling it sexy and praising its “beautiful user interface, which has been totally revamped from the ground up; gone is the cartoonish look and feel of the current lineup, replaced with a modern, warm theme with wireframe icons and slick animations.”

I’m So Sexy That It Hurts.
In reality, the new interface is a frankenstein combination of a quasi-Mac OS X-like Dock, which leads to a grid of abstract iconic mysteries navigated by the phone’s tiny joystick, which leads to another Dock-like menu, which leads to a circa 2005 iTunes-style textual listing in the case of, say ringtones.

Beautiful? Slick animation? Looks like more cartoony icons in a sea of deeply nestled hierarchy of bad user interface ideas.

Check out the video they posted, if you dare: BlackBerry 9000 in the wild – Engadget Mobile

Ughs! If this is the best RIM can offer to defend the future of its BlackBerry platform against the encroachment of the iPhone 2.0, who is going to offer Apple any real competition? Nokia, and its future vision of a phone that looks exactly like the iPhone? Chinese cloners who poop out devices that look like the iPhone but stop working at random intervals?

While the BlackBerry 9000 looks fleetingly like a Chinese clone of the iPhone from the front, it looks like the typical nerd phone from the side, and pretty much every other angle. We were hoping for a better RIM job on the BlackBerry. This one stinks!

 Media 2007 12 Blackberry-9000-Leak
BlackBerry 9000 series spy shot revealed? – Engadget Mobile

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  • WholesaleMagic

    Lol. RIM job. Nice one. It’s good to read a more light hearted article. I got a headache from reading the OS News response to Mac Shot First.

  • dssstrkl

    Well, one can hope that RIM makes better use of its patents than Apple does.

    And by better, I mean more frequent and obvious use.

  • OlivierL

    This phone external appearance is such a ripoff from the iPhone (flat black glass finish with rounded metallic frame) that I feel ashamed for RIM design department.

  • Dr. Fu

    Hello Daniel,
    while it´s clear TO US that the new Blackberry is an ugly bitch compared to the iPhone, it all comes down to this: Everyone to his taste.

    It looks better as his predecessors, and clearly the iPhone-wannabe-Design is one more desperate effort from the competition to imitate Apples success.

    If the competition continues their business as usual trying to jump on the Apple bandwagon, good for Apple, good for us (for our amusement), and good for my stocks, bought at 172, would like that too.

    I personally think more and more (sorry for bad written english, writing from germany), that the competition will NEVER be able to market competitive Products that rival apples Product line for a long time.

    Maybe in 2010, for them the penny will drop. Until then – Apple Stocks, anyone ? ;)

  • Rich

    “Nokia, and its future vision of a phone that looks exactly like the iPhone?”

    That’s an controversial statement considering that Nokia hasn’t shown any production devices running their new touchscreen UI yet.

    I think we’ll see two phases of iPhone rivals:

    Phase 1: “Quick, we need to catch up – ASAP!”
    Manufacturers realise that the iPhone is the most hyped up phone around and they will want to cash in on its success. The intention will be to create an iPhone clone as quickly as possible with the minimal amount of changes to their existing products. I think the Blackberry 9000 falls into this category.

    Phase 2: “OK, what can we learn from the iPhone”
    After this initial wave of clones, I would expect manufacturers to look at what they can learn from the iPhone in the long term. Real UI improvements, better web browsers, better media players, sexier hardware, etc. I doubt we will see this for another year or so. This is when things will really start heating up.

  • rludvig

    Dan, there are lots of phones less sexy than the iPhone. But, why this one warrants a special blog entry, is a mistery to me. Sounds like pointless bashing to me.

  • dallasmay

    Here is the thing I think is funny. The thing that is revolutionary about the iPhone was it’s ability to Surf the Real Web. I wonder why there is no video of this thing surfing the super fast 3G network everyone is talking about. Oh yeah, it’s because this phone makes the web look like 1997 html. What year is it again. Lets see Google Docs on this guy.

  • seth

    Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. the intention was there. You think RIM worries about the iPhone at night?

  • Jon T

    Just goes to prove what we already knew – THE innovation department resides firmly at 1 Infinite Loop and others just rely on mimicry…

    And to think RIM have had 14 months to come up with this…when Apple came up with the genuine article in 24.

  • http://www.thecarbonlesspaper.com johnnyapple

    Well, good thing the video had sound. That was helpful. At no point did anything useful actually happen but it sure takes an awful lot of clicks to do absolutely nothing. You can hear every springy, tinny click. Good work Engagdget

    Did anyone else notice that during the last second or so of the 23 second video that the battery indicator changed to ‘low battery’?

  • http://www.thecarbonlesspaper.com johnnyapple

    I gotta believe that RIM can do a better job. How difficult can it be? Well, we should give RIM a hand anyway, just for trying.

  • nextcube

    That was about the most pointless “demo movie” I’ve seen in years. I’m sure glad I don’t have to make a purchasing decision based on it! So RIM changed the look of its icons and left everything else the same. Woo hoo!

  • duckie

    The reason it merits an article of its own should be clear if you’ve been reading the rest of RDM – RIM is the only company still ahead of Apple in terms of smartphone sales in the US, so how well the Blackberry develops has a direct bearing on the iPhone, they’re the main competition.

    Quite frankly, I’m not that surprised at how bad the 9000 is. RIM have spent the last couple of years ignoring the competition and falling further and further behind in terms of handset design. Their major recent innovation appears to be – woo hoo – Documents To Go MS Office file readers, an application suite that debuted on PalmOS devices in the 1990’s. Sometimes the pace of technology change just leaves you breathless don’t it?

  • gus2000

    Anybody here with a programming degree? I was just discussing with a colleague that if I had wanted to major in Computer Science back in the day, I would have been required to minor in mathematics (which is probably why I don’t have a CS degree). I never understood why I needed to know advanced calculus in order to do binary math or to write a game program. Where were the art classes? Human interface design? Grammar?!!?

    It’s no wonder that most software is hard to use! The programmers think like mathematicians. I actually found a blog post suggesting that all files should always use the 8.3 naming convention for maximum compatibility, and that “if you need more than 8 letters, you’re doing it wrong.” Oscar, Mike, Golf!

    So the Blackberry *is* sexy, only we’re apparently not sophisticated enough to appreciate the sexiness.

  • gus2000

    Do those monochrome wireframe icons remind anyone else of the vector-based video games of the 1970’s?

    Asteroids, anyone?

  • slappy

    Wasn’t this suppose to be RIM answer to the iPhone?

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir


    You are so right about engineers being pigeon-holed and kept away from a well rounded education in very relevant things like design. From what I hear: a crucial part of Apple’s internal process is keeping designers and engineers in close contact throughout. Indeed, the lines between engineering and design are as blurred as can be. Just you try bringing something as thoroughly well thought out to market by any other way!

    @”why does this phone matter??”

    1. It’s RIM’s flagship: prospectively the only phone in a position to matter besides the iPhone.
    2. Just looking at it is one of those head shaking moments: what the hell happened to RIM’s pride, designers and sense of self worth? I pity them. Though I certainly don’t pity the sloppy coverage its getting.

    “For all you inveterate Apple haters out there: an iPhone *you can* buy!!!”

  • pecos.bill

    Who’d’ve thought there was such a thing as a bad RIM job???? ;-)

    Other than the meaningless icons and the use of the same icon twice for presumably different things, they’re pretty good as they are clear and readable. I only question the one to the right of the clipboard, the clipboard (is for?), and the meaningless squares (one highlighted).

    I question that they don’t use the color that obviously is available to them though. Such a waste.

    RIM has always had crappy interfaces. They put the back/cancel button under the scroll buttons on the right edge. The accidental press rate for that back button is very high. Even my PC using hubby recognized how crappy they are. (Mixed marriages are definitely more challenging.)

  • http://ephilei.blogspot.com Ephilei

    Personally, I like the more pronounced curves on this versus the iPhone.

  • lmasanti

    “I think we’ll see two phases of iPhone rivals:

    Phase 1: “Quick, we need to catch up – ASAP!”
    Manufacturers realise that the iPhone is the most hyped up phone around and they will want to cash in on its success.

    Phase 2: “OK, what can we learn from the iPhone”
    After this initial wave of clones, I would expect manufacturers to look at what they can learn from the iPhone in the long term. ”

    If you remember iPod’s cloning, you’ll be with me that the “Phase 2” is too optimistic!
    It is real that there is a huger amount of money and interest in the cell phone industry than in the mp3-player industry, but the problem is in “the followers” behaviour of the other manufacturers.
    “No new ideas” by default.

  • mikeg

    I have been carrying a Blackberry since 2002 (or a tad earlier if memory serves me correctly). My current device is the 8700 series, which is an older model, but it has a smoother appearance than the 8800 series (the middle device in the first photo in Daniel’s article). The 9000 is a slight improvement in physical style as compared to the 8800, but clearly a step backward in terms of the quality of the display. If this is what RIM is offering in response to the iPhone 2.0, I think they are in trouble. I do not have any choice for work as Blackberrys are, and will unfortunately remain (unless RIM goes out of business) the only option we have for wireless email. I do not yet own an iPhone, but I do have an iPod Touch since I still have a contract with a vendor other than AT&T, but I there is no doubt I will be carrying an iPhone in the near future.

    Question, are we certain this is not a story intended for April 1st? :-)

  • http://home.comcast.net/~daguy daGUY

    I love it. On the one hand, all these phone companies deny that the iPhone is a threat, and then at the same time they try to mimic its design. I’m sure it was pure coincidence that the new BlackBerry has a flat black front with a rounded metal frame!

  • addicted44


    Not sure how long ago you looked into a CS degree, but I would say that 10-15 years ago a strong mathematical background was probably a must, because computing resources were limited, and so algorithms had to be as efficient as possible so the program would run at a decent speed.

    Recently, however, with Moore’s law computers have become so fast that programmers no longer need to worry about efficiency, but human interaction and design instead. There will be a little lag between when computer scientists will start to be trained for this new computing world. I am proud to say my university (Georgia Tech) is making huge strides in this area, tying up almost all its computing “threads” as they like calling it, with other departments, such as the literature, psychology, etc. departments.

  • cdb

    1. Now I can see what the iphone heaphone socket would have looked like if it wasn’t recessed, I suddenly don’t mind the restrictions on the headphones I can use on it. Damn, that’s a good call by the iPhone designers.

    2. What were those clicking noises I heard while watching the linked video…?

  • nextcube

    “Computer Science” is not the same thing as computer programming, and I think that this is where people sometimes get confused. CS should really be called applied mathematics; the people who did all the fundamental work on modern digital computers like John VonNeumann and Alan Turing were mathematicians, and the computers were built by electrical engineers (another branch of applied mathematics, to be honest). There are plenty ways to learn programming that will make you a perfectly good programmer, but that’s not the same thing as actually being a computer scientist.
    Not to rag on addicted44 too hard, but Windows Vista should stand as “exhibit #1” as to why efficiency in software still matters! :) Also, usability studies have shown that the old green-screen mainframe terminal apps were actually easier for people to learn and helped them be more productive than today’s “point and click” environments! (Next time you go to the bank, look at the teller’s computer – it’s some shiny new Dell PC running…a terminal emulator!) It seems we’ve come full-circle in the computing business. :)

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