Note: this article was an April Fool's Joke. BlackBerry, to our knowledge, is not planning a smartphone without a screen.
BlackBerry announced its latest business smartphone today, but with a twist: it doesn't feature a screen.
BlackBerry Dauntless (Credit: RIM)
"We know our strengths — our strengths are email and our keyboard," said RIM designer Elliot Pouce at the press launch for the company's new mobile phone, the Dauntless. "This whole touchscreen thing is a fad. In fact, the whole screen thing is a fad."
The Dauntless eliminates the need for a screen by having haptic response built into the keyboard — each keystroke is confirmed using Morse code-patterned vibrations.
Originally designed as a special device for the visually impaired, the Dauntless (initially code-named the Wonder) found favour with enthusiastic BlackBerry testers who said they rarely looked at the phone screen anyway.
When asked how predictive text would work without a screen, Pouce was nonplussed: "It's QWERTY — what on earth do you need that for? It's been around for almost 140 years. There's been plenty of time to practice." He paused, narrowed his eyes, and said "You're an iPhone user, aren't you?"
One of the most interesting facets of the Dauntless is how the phone handles incoming messages. With factory settings, the user is only notified of urgent messages — these are then converted to voice and read out to the user. All other incoming messages are immediately deleted. "The Dauntless is really targeted at top management — the kind of user for whom communication is crucial, but only in one direction," said Pouce.
For those who desperately need some screen time (or would prefer to read email, rather than have the phone read it to them), RIM is also planning to release a deluxe edition of the Dauntless with built-in mini projector, so if there's a handy wall nearby you can project what you want. "But more importantly, it also makes it a really cool torch," Pouce said.
Dauntless model Mike Rotch is recuperating in hospital. (Credit: Jurch Rotch)
Another aspect of the Dauntless liked by users in test groups was the ability to use the device without removing it from your pocket. This "trouser texting" capability was to be featured in a television commercial scheduled for launch this weekend. Filming was delayed when, during the shooting, the actor demonstrating "in-pocket texting" in a city street was severely injured by a female passerby, who clearly got the wrong idea. Eye-witnesses said the actor seemed to be trying to remove the Dauntless from his front pocket to show the woman what he was doing, when she began to beat him about the face with her handbag. He's now recovering in hospital but managed to text this message to reporters: "Nitgerfycjunbg Bkacjberrt wabjers!"
The BlackBerry Dauntless will be available on 12 October 2011.