A history of BlackBerry in nine iconic handsets (and one 'meh' tablet): Photos

A history of BlackBerry in nine iconic handsets (and one 'meh' tablet): Photos

Summary: BlackBerry 10 is just around the corner, but before it arrives take a look at the handsets that made RIM a titan in the enterprise space. Will its next batch of handsets be enough to get businesses and consumers back on side?

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  • Blackberry Storm

    In order to try and respond to the seeming lust for full touchscreen handsets, RIM announced the ill-fated Storm, its first not to include a keyboard of any kind. It had made its way into stores in the US, UK, Canada and Australia between mid-November and the end of 2008.

    Instead it featured a 'clickable' screen technology called SurePress, that was intended to give users the reassuring feeling akin to pressing a physical button. In reality, the movement allowed the screen to gather dust and be the source of other complaints with the device. Other problems such as software glitches also plagued the phone, giving fuel to critics.

    According to Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive at the time, only 500,00 Storm handsets shipped in its first month. Despite a brief rally in sales in early 2009, the Storm failed to perform.

  • Blackberry PlayBook

    The next most notable release from RIM, which is telling in itself, came in the first half of 2011 in the form of its 7-inch PlayBook tablet.

    However, like the Storm, the PlayBook was a knee-jerk reaction to a form factor it didn't understand, and to the subsequent runaway success of the Apple iPad.

    Unfortunately for RIM it didn't offer the same level of ease of use or performance as Apple's tablet. Contributing to the PlayBook's poor performance in the market were some strange decisions made by the company, such as not offering its email services to PlayBook owners unless they also owned a BlackBerry smartphone.

    Nevertheless, several versions (including LTE-equipped variants) have been announced since its first release on 19 April, 2011.

    Despite its first tablet offering reaching the market, major shifts in the consumer market and exec-level turmoil combined to help shed value from RIM’s share price: it fell from $67 at the start of 2010 to $25 by July 2011.

    Since then, the company has felt like it was treading water, eking the last life out of its existing software platforms and hardware before the introduction of its BlackBerry 10 handsets and software.

    Undoubtedly, BlackBerry 10 is a critical juncture in RIM's history with the iPhone and Android devices becoming more accepted in enterprise environments, proving a threat to its core business. Today, RIM's share price stands around $15; I'll be interested to see what it is in July.

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility, Smartphones

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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16 comments
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  • Are you for real?

    The PlayBook outperformed all iPads up to the iPad 3. Obviously you know next to nothing about the PlayBook.

    Ease of use on the PlayBook has long been heralded as better than all comers, and a lot of that ease of use is baked into BB10 and helping fuel their stock surge and preorders selling out at some carriers...
    wizec
    • @sagec

      Exacta-mundo sir!!! A "meh" tablet?? The Playbook is arguably the most productive tablet on the market. Forget how it was first released...I'm talking about after their 2.1 update. It's been a magnificent tablet since...and for an extremely cheap price at that. And when BB10 is available for it, it will almost be like having a new device altogether. Do your homework, you're supposed to be teh "professional" smh
      Kess So Harlem
    • Aside from opinion

      Do you have anything to back this up?

      As far as I remember, the Playbook released to a pretty tepid response, and lacked key features (like email). Between the rather anemic ecosystem and the limited launch functionality, I'm not sure how you can say that the Playbook outperformed the iPad. And I'm not sure who it was that heralded it as being better than all other tablets.

      I think people tend to forget that hardware is really only a small part of what makes a tablet work. Without seriously polished user interface and functionality, a tablet is simply a nice toy.

      I'd love to see RIM produce a hot tablet, but the Playbook just isn't it.
      lapland_lapin
  • BlackBerry envy

    I remember wanting the BlackBerry Bold 9000 even though the iPhone was out. I liked the Playbook when it came out. I hope it gets a new lease of life with BB10. I have a soft spot for BlackBerry even though I'm a massive Android fan right now. I hope RIM's future is a bit brighter if the new batch of devices shine.
    Chris 'Ichi'
  • BB PlayBook

    Granted the original Playbook was a bit low on features, but the current 64GB Playbook 2.0 is feature and performance rich. It has native e-mail (among many other things), a very snappy interface, a real HD dsiplay, and I love it. It a productivity tool that I use every day.

    I use it for e-mail (hotmail, yahoo, and corporate), texting, web browsing, video, audio, reference, ebooks, creating spreadsheets, two cameras, photo editing... and on and on and on. I have many apps that I use often for music, medical, and other purposes.
    bb_apptix
  • Playbook

    The Playbook was an excellent tablet, with no apps to speak of. RIM did not understand the market at all. The hardware and the OS were excellent, but you could not do that much with it.
    hayneiii
    • Really?

      I can do every task on my PlayBook you can do on an iPad or Android Tablet. My playbook goes everywhere with me. My iPad 3 sits on the coffee table used mostly by guests. My android (ICS) sits in a dock collecting dust.
      mkelley65
    • PlayBook has changed

      Since its release, the PlayBook has changed quite a bit with the OS updates, and while not every major app is available for it, there are quite a few great apps and games now. I use my PB all the time, but even at release, it did a fantastic job at what a tablet really was made for: web browsing. Really a great browser with Flash support that really is important if you want to view most online video content. I actually have a quite a few apps and games on my PlayBook. I take it with me everywhere (great portability being 7"), and I also can get online anywhere even without wifi, just due to seamless bridge connectivity to my BB phone (without needing to pay for tethering). So I think the PB is very underrated and gets a lot more slack than it deserves. It will also be getting BB10 too. Well worth the price for me (I bought at launch), but I've also bought a few others at the lower prices that made it a great gift too.
      Preston Scheuneman
    • Developer support

      RIM has worked tirelessly to fix the lack of Apps issue. They were at the game developer's conference last year pushing the Playbook. They've thrown a lot of money at developer to get them to port games to the Playbook.
      Charles Doty
  • PlayBook bashing has to stop!

    We use PlayBooks between two prototype workshops about 30 miles apart. Concept 3D CAD drawings are speedily e-mailed to the remote workshop and the techies begin building the physical prototypes. Detail conflicts are highlighted via VideoChat and a customized grid and scaling system.
    A pair of them were bought for the price of one I-Pad, and we are saving time, money and frustration because the shop floor guys get prompt response via the Playbook facilities.Since we don't play games, we don't miss the I-Pad apps.
    ScotCan
  • Love seeing the old models

    While its great seeing my old 5810, 7210, 8800 (museum pieces!) the images are missing all the new models with the trackpad, for example the curve, bold & torch (my current model). I don't think the Playbook is "meh" we use ours all the time! Looking forward to the new tens.
    rezcowgirl
  • PlayBook VS iPad

    PlayBook - stereo speakers, iPad - mono speaker.

    Yes, in 2013 the iPad has the same speakers as some 1960s transistor radio from Japan.
    Susan Antony
  • PlayBook with BB10

    The PlayBook will be great with BB 10 on it. I think people should go and get one now while they are available so they can use the new BB10 ecosystem while they are still on contract with their phones.
    Of course, after going Black, they may not want to go back (to their other OS).
    Susan Antony
  • Not meh for me

    I got the Playbook about a month after launch and have never regretted it. For the first few months I will admit it gathered a fair amount of dust as I tried to figure out exactly where a tablet would fit into my life. It has worked its way into my day to day quite nicely now where I find I'm rarely without it.

    I haven't found anything yet I wanted it to do that it couldn't. So, it's very far from meh in my opinion. What gathers dust now is my computers, which only get powered up to record and edit video.
    stiney20
  • can't put mine down

    I got the Playbook at launch, I also have a BB so the no native email, calendar was no problem for me but can see how it was a problem for many. I hope someone got waterboarded for releasing it that way (Jim Balsille probably) but since 2.0 there is no reason for folks to at least check it out, its a sweet tablet, can't put the little ba$tard down
    gordongr
  • Late to the party!

    Well I was going to say something in defense of the Playbook; which I use more and like WAY more than my iPad 3. But you guys have done a pretty good job of that. The only thing the iPad has on the Playbook is screen size, which, oddly enough, is a reason why I like the Playbook better. Not to mention the OS is 10X better.
    IM4CHRST