Author Archives: Glenn

Research In Stasis: The Demise Of BlackBerry

Blackberry is dying. Research In Motion (RIM), known for manufacturing the mobile devices characterized by distinctive and inflexible QWERTY keypads, is reportedly contemplating a company reorganization that could see 2,000 to 6,000 jobs eliminated, albeit it also predicts savings of $1 billion a year. This is pretty much indicative of a company with one foot in the grave.

Like the QWERTY keypad, RIM has gone from a symbol of business, professionalism and power to a sign of inflexibility and lack of imagination. The company has pretty much gone from the top of the food chain to something akin to krill.

So what caused Blackberry’s fall?

First off, it’s a big old fossil. It still markets email, for crying out loud. Although email does still count as a huge part of every person’s online experience, most people today only sign up for it as a gateway service, since it’s required to sign up for social networking and other services.

Another indication of its nature as big old dinosaur is the fact that the Blackberry devices today still look pretty much like their counterparts from years ago. Their failure to make a proper and definitive move from the QWERTY-dominated design definitely cost them customers. More often than not, QWERTY keypads require both hands to type and a spare hand is just not something the multi-tasking professional wants to let go of in this day and age.

Blackberry is also based on the premise that serious business people want serious business phones. What the company failed to anticipate is that the emotionless and efficient robot army they predicted would rule the corporate world hasn’t been designed yet. Human beings still comprise their market and human beings are still prone to desire individuality and fun.

Even though Blackberry may have managed to make deals with companies to issue serious business mobile devices to their employees, most people still prefer to use devices that let them hang loose and play from time to time.

QWERTY killed Blackberry; that and a lack of imagination.



Filed under Mobile

Wingz SmartKeyboard: Will It Fly?

I haven’t covered keyboards lately, so I thought it was high time I did. I discovered the Wingz SmartKeyboard while browsing Kickstarter. It’s designed to solve the usbaility issue of texting on a touchscreen.

Wingz SmartKeyboard

Wingz SmartKeyboard

Wingz can connect as a bluetooth keyboard to a tablet or smartphone. But it’s also a “mobile device” itself — since the touchscreen panel at the middle actually runs on Android. You can actually stick a sim card in there to make calls and send texts.

While this is one way to solve the keyboard problem of touchscreen devices, I still think that lugging around yet another “too big for my pocket” device is a step back from mobility. And what would be the advantage of this over a Bluetooth keyboard?

I personally own an Apple Wireless Keyboard, the slimmest such device around, and even I don’t carry it around often. I tried carrying it around to pair with my iPad for writing on the go but the two device combo just doesn’t work well in actual usage. I just conceded defeat and bring a laptop when I need some writing done.

As an accessory, I would put Wingz on the same shelf as the Bluetooth headset, the external USB numeric keypad and the touchscreen stylus. It’s possibly useful for some people but for most it’s too much of a fiddle.

As a companion to a tablet or smartphone, I don’t think yet another device is the answer and certainly not one as expensive as this ($240). Every mobile device already has the best input method available: its own screen. It’s not tactile but it is very portable. So I guess the problem really is software and not hardware. Let’s stick to making virtual keyboards better first.

So does Wingz have the wings to fly? It’s certainly crashed and burned on Kickstarter – not even raising 1% of it’s $54K target.


Filed under Hardware, Interfaces, Mobile