RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

Summary: RIM's co-CEO tells Silicon.com why he believes smartphones are the future, why Qwerty is so exciting, and why the Bold has nothing to do with the iPhone.

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BlackBerry maker RIM has been very busy this week hosting the Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, Fla. One of the announcements causing the biggest stir was the BlackBerry Bold--touted by some as the device to rival the iPhone.

At the conference, co-CEO Mike Lazaridis caught up with Silicon.com reporter Natasha Lomas to tell us why he believes smartphones are the future, why Qwerty is so exciting, and why the Bold has nothing to do with the iPhone.

The rise of the smartphone...
I've always believed that the feature phone market was going to transition to smartphones. And smartphones really were the future.

lazardis
Credit: Research
In Motion
Mike Lazaridis, RIM
president and co-CEO

If you go back in history, just about every major consumer electronics technology in history started in the enterprise. So everything from printers, fax machines, telephones, typewriters--you name it, it all started in the enterprise. And then as it became easier to manage, as it came down in price, as it became more ergonomic, what happened was all these businesspeople, who're also consumers--when they saw it available in the store, for a price that they can have it in their home, they start putting fax machines in their home, they start putting PCs in their home, they start putting tape recorders in their home. All of these technologies have their birthplace in business and BlackBerry's following that same path. BlackBerry's really a product that has successfully commercialized the concept of the smartphone for business.

On touchscreen interfaces...
Everyone's trying to get into this game now. So they're coming up with different innovations, we're seeing different types of articulated devices, you're seeing touchscreens, you're seeing all kinds of stuff--the fact is people have grown up from the old dial-tone phone keypad. That's the key.

BlackBerry Bold

I worked on the very first touchscreens. Let's go back in time now--Gold Computing, Newton, Envoy, Marco--the very first touchscreens on the Sharp organizers, I had one of those. The very first Palm. I met Jeff Hawkins and (Donna) Dubinsky back when Palm was a block of wood, so I go right back to the beginning. How's that? I've used all the touchscreens, I've known about touchscreens and I've watched NEC and Palm use full touchscreens since the mid-90s and what I watched was the whole industry eventually have to license our keyboard technology.

We have to be realistic about the history of this technology. We have to remember that this is not new--this has been done, this has been tried before. And there are other ways to provide a large screen and a Qwerty keyboard without compromising them by putting one on top of the other.

The iPhone effect...
I think that BlackBerry was the first and best integrated and most secure smartphone solution in the world a decade ago. And it continues to be today. But I think what happened was the amount of marketing and the attention (Apple) generated in the market--the customers are now coming to the store and saying I didn't know you could do all that with a phone. And when they get there they realize there's a selection--there's not just one device. And so what it's actually done is increased our sales.

The BlackBerry Bold versus the iPhone...
This is three years in the making. So I'm sorry but this wasn't a response to another device. Either that or we have a time machine somewhere, or some kind of magic crystal ball or something. This was actually designed three years ago and the actual physical design of this product--I have the original models from 2006.

Future challenges...
We're already working on our next generation platform. One of the things that we're really focused on is battery life. And one of the big challenges in 3G has been the battery life of these products when they're really using data. And so a lot of innovation has gone into our products--we're the first to invent several technologies that have at least halved the amount of battery consumption of our products on an always-on connection.

The most exciting mobile trend is...
Full Qwerty keyboards. I'm sorry, it really is. I'm not making this up. People are running out of their two-year contracts and they're coming into the stores and they want to be able to do Facebook and they want to be able to do instant messaging and they want to be able to do e-mail and they ask for those features thinking that they're going to get another flip phone and they're walking out with a (BlackBerry) Curve or a Pearl because they're the best devices for doing those kinds of activities. And so what is the defining factor? The keyboard.

Natasha Lomas of Silicon.com reported from Orlando, Fla.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, iPhone, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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14 comments
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  • My opinions

    "So everything from printers, fax machines, telephones, typewriters--you name it, it all started in the enterprise."

    "Enterprise" is one of those terms I think we made up along the way. I don't recall ever reading about "enterprise"s a long time ago - it was all business. Large, small, didn't matter. Business was business. Now we call some of them "enterprise"s, as if it mattered.

    One of the things I do agree with, however, is the keyboard. If these phones are truly becoming a replacement for the good old PDA, then a keyboard is going to be vital, as well as seamless synchronization with a PC and/or the Internet.
    CobraA1
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    He's so full of himself, that his "stature" overshadowed the value of whatever it was he wanted us to know. He's right about the expectations associatd with the aegis of this or that service, and my expectations are that CEO's extract themselves and their non-stop back patting from the real message. I am in the market for a smart phone, but the thought of this tub of lard and his bag of wind will be an image I would have to overlook to consider buying one of his products.
    Summilux
    • He might be full of himself, but...

      He might be full of himself, but... he's right.

      A well designed, full Qwerty keyboard is what a large segment of the market actually needs, and the Blackberry is the best device for this market.
      Feldon
    • Keyboard, important.

      The reason why iPhone is never really a drool factor for me since day one as a phone, is because of its lack of keyboard. I find it terribly frustrating and annoying, especially for someone like me who text a lot.


      He may sound full of wind, but don't look at the speaker's attitude. His facts are quite spot on.
      mira.moo
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    He certainly is full of himself, and he may be right about QWERTY keyboards, hell I love my TyTn. But, and its a big but, what has this new Blackberry got that makes it stand out so far from other devices? Early on in the article he says

    "...and there are other ways to provide a large screen and a Qwerty keyboard without compromising them by putting one on top of the other."

    Yes indeed, but I see that the new Blackberry follows that same formulaic approach that makes Blackberry's so unappealing and instantly kills any chance of me buying one. FAIL. Try harder.
    TheMaw
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    About people coming into stores and walking out with a Blackberry because they want to do all the things Lazardis mentioned...hmmmm...it's not because of the QWERTY keyboard. It's because of...

    Price! I'm from the UK and when I recently got the chance to upgrade my contract, I chose the Blackberry unlimited package because it covered all my internet usage on the phone. Before that, I was getting fleeced to use the internet on data charges from 02. I can get unlimited data usage for ?10 a month.

    Before upgrading to a Blackberry, I was paying almost ?40 a month minimum just for using the internet on my phone.
    chiefchimpanzee
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    >>what happened was all these businesspeople, who're also consumers-<<

    "who're" ?? Are there no copy editors reading this material before it goes online? While people make that contraction in spoken conversation every day, spelling out the words "...who are..." would be much, much better in print.
    Fasthands
    • That's the way English works.

      It's always been that speech patterns change and eventually, rules for writing and officially recognized words follow suit. Of course, today we've got another thing in the mix to muck up the works: texting. How long until LOL enters the dictionary? After all, 'OK' is in there.
      Larsix
      • How English works...

        Ok evolved into okay. Not the other way around.

        I agree with the previous poster that for the reader scanning "who are" is much easier to parse than "who're". It is probably true this may have reflected how his speach sounded at the time, but this copy was posted here for readers to read. Even the most carefully articulate among us will have little differentiation between "who are" and "who're" in normally paced speach (because of how vowels are formed in the mouth--not due to laziness).

        Improved copy-editing would be beneficial.
        jamesisin
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    "This was actually designed three years ago and the actual physical design of this product--I have the original models from 2006"

    Three years from design to market and you call yourself innovative?

    Nice hair-spray job by the way.
    cigar444
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    sidekicks have good keyboards as well
    stevehabs
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    i wish they'd come out with a touchscreen interface rather than that clunky thumbwheel. it's like using a computer without a mouse.
    WhatsamattaU
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    Batteries? No way! Use nano solar ink for power, See sites for Konara, Nanosolar or Innovalight.
    LouiseNicholson
  • RE: RIM's Lazaridis on why Qwerty's still working

    I am agree with LouiseNicholson, i used to nano power, really works very fine with me see this <a href="http://www.topwirelessinternet.com/sprint-wireless.html">sprint wireless</a> also providing same stuff.
    certvista