Thoughts on Blackberry Storm and Verizon HTC Touch Pro/XV6850

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Thoughts on Blackberry Storm and Verizon HTC Touch Pro/XV6850

After my Black Friday trip to the mall in Connecticut, I made another trip to the Westchester Mall in White Plains, NY. I was surprised to see the light customer turnout but this could have been because of the freezing rain and snow. Speaking of storms, I dropped by the Verizon Wireless store to take a look at another Storm from Blackberry.

As you recall, my last Storm experience was all wet. I am happy to say this Storm performed better than the last one I used in Connecticut. I still had applications pop up for no reason I could figure out but at least the typing was more accurate. Could the last one have been a lemon? Who knows? But in this case, when I camped out in the store for twenty minutes, three people came in and mentioned to Verizon workers that the Storm has problems. These people came in looking for reassurance on the device. The people behind the counter mentioned an article in the New York Times that was negative and then mentioned that all the problems will be fixed with future software upgrades.

I have no reason to dispute this device will get better and in fact, Apple is continuing to improve the iPhone on a regular basis. What did surprise me though is that three out of three customers didn't read the New York Times review. Perhaps the liberal elite media is not as well-entrenched in White Plains as I thought.

On a separate note, the HTC XV6850/Touch Pro was lurking in the back of the store and was not on display. I had to ask to see it and it looks a great deal like the XV6800. The screen resolution is twice as good at 640x480 and the camera is much better. The UI didn't blow me away though - it is the same tired Windows Mobile interface - but upgraded to 6.1.

Still, I have to say that I am obviously wowed by a slick UI. Most people seem to be. You have seen those Apple iPhone ads on TV where things are so easy to do? On a Windows Mobile device you would have to multiply the number of steps by a factor of three. While the iPhone is a great deal more fun to use than other devices, there are some amazing things that Windows Mobile devices can do that iPhones can't. For example, searching for users using LDAP on an email server, cut and paste, the ability to search for email that doesn't reside on your devices, etc.

In addition there is the infinite flexibility of Windows Mobile... You can tweak anything... Everything. On an iPhone you get what you get in many cases.

Now that the public has learned that easier can indeed be better when it comes to mobile devices, it may be time for Microsoft to come up with packaged groups of settings - perhaps something like novice, intermediate and pro. I would use different terms but the idea is the same. I also think there is an opportunity for Microsoft to look at mobile interfaces again and make them more fun while making them more intuitive.

Perhaps the HTC TouchFLO 3D Navigation (see video) will do the trick for most users but then again I have heard reports of slowness of this interface. I didn't get a chance to test it for myself.
 


At the same time there is an ensuing application war that needs winning. Microsoft needs to be competitive in this fight and as many old timers remember, it was really the applications that made the PC win the computer wars of the past decades. Ditto for OS/2 vs. Windows in the OS wars of the nineties.

Getting back to the HTC Touch Pro, I am thrilled - well beyond thrilled really that the resolution of this device is 640x480 but the 2.8" display needs to be 3.5" for this device to be as useful as an iPhone for web browsing.

Having said that, the slide out keyboard is the reason I carry an XV6800 with me in addition to an iPhone. The addition of the 3.2 MP camera is great and so is the business card reader.

But while this device is the best HTC product perhaps available in the US (yes, including the Google Android-based T-Mobile G1) it still doesn't do that much more than the XV6800. With all the discounts added up, I could pick one up for $250 in exchange for my XV6800 but it isn't worth the hassle to me at this point. If I lose my phone or break it, perhaps I will reconsider.

Getting back to the Storm... It is growing on me a bit. I haven't decided to bring one into TMC Labs yet but as more applications come out for it, I may reconsider. Ditto for the Touch Pro.

The great news for all of us of course is the competition is really heating up in cell phone land and these devices have enormous power and can replace laptops in many cases. As the mobile arms race continues, so does the increase in the global productivity curve and this is always a good thing.



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