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What Went Wrong with the Blackberry Bold?

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Some of you may have seen our tweet yesterday, about the Orange (UK) network dropping the Blackberry Bold from its roster of handsets. Neither Orange nor RIM have anything up on this latest development, but it does seem to be the culmination of the problems that led Orange to suspend shipments of the Bold in October last year due to “software issues.”

From what I can gather, the Bold was hit by software glitches and difficulties interfacing with a range of different mobile carriers, including problems with 3G receiption. Customers reported problems with dropped calls and unexplained crashes. Because of this, the handset experienced an “uncharacteristically high” return rate, as it was ditched by disgruntled users.

This is another unwelcome headache, for RIM, the manufacturers of Blackberry handsets, as they are also experiencing problems their Blackberry Storm handset, which was launched as Blackberry’s competitor to the iPhone. Apparenlty the Storm has issues similar to those of the Bold, including slow 3G connections, lack of wifi, and shaky software.

I suppose this is what happens when businesses try to play catch-up. So busy are they trying to provide the same sort of product as their competitors that they neglect the usual testing period. Instead, they rush out a product that may contain some gremlins that basic checks have not picked up. Sure, early adopters may complain, but you can always fix it with a software update later, right?

Wrong. While it may feel and look like good business sense to launch a competitive product earlier than envisioned, the glitches and buggy software suffered by early users lose a company a great deal of goodwill. Bad reviews mean that customers who may have been considering buying the new product will be dissuaded, no matter how often your PR office assures them that the issues have been fixed.

Hopefully, RIM will take the time to ensure that the next Blackberry model is not only innovative, but is also stable and reliable when they decide to launch it. In the meantime, I bet they’re hoping that the new Palm handset scheduled for launch at CES this Friday is not very impressive.

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