BlackBerry Storm: quit buggin’ me

27 Jan 2009

So it seems that a rush to market and some software malfunctions along the way are the ‘new reality’ of the modern smart phone.

So said RIM co-chief executive Jim Balsillie in a recent comment to the Wall Street Journal in reference to the postponed October release of the BlackBerry Storm, and its ‘just-about-made-it’ debut in November 2008.

Although launched as a full touchscreen with all the trimmings and as an alternative to the Apple iPhone, the BlackBerry, once the golden child of the smart phone market, has received not-so-positive press with the Storm.

Stephen Fry, author and gadget enthusiast, said of the user interface of the Storm: “Watching someone writing an email on a Storm is like watching an antelope trying to open a packet of cigarettes.”

However, he did concede: “My suspicion is that the Storm’s most glaring faults derive from the unseemly haste with which it has been released: pressure on the software and design teams …”

Soon after the Storm’s release, customers began to report bugs – something that was addressed with a software patch in December. Remember though, Apple also had to do the same after the release of the iPhone 3G.

This increasingly blasé attitude to buggy phones, which appears to be a perfectly acceptable ‘new reality’ as products struggle to meet their shipping deadline ‘by the skin of their teeth’, has been referred to as the rise of beta culture by Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo.

“From that to the now-universally-accepted Blue Screen of Death, from buggy Blu-ray players to the Xbox 360’s red ring of death and PS3’s bugs, even from kitchen ovens to faulty DSLR cameras, the list of troubled products is endless,” said Buchanan in his piece calling for a revolution against beta culture.

Is RIM at fault for admitting that the BlackBerry Storm just barely made the shipping deadline, or does its revelation represent the creeping acceptance from the industry as a whole that these types of situations are now okay?

By Marie Boran