Like the BlackBerry® Torch™ 9800 smartphone, the new BlackBerry® Style™ 9670 smartphone is a unique device because it combines many BlackBerry® smartphone standards (full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad) into a unique package. I got to sit down with BlackBerry Style Product Manager Randy Carson and talk about what makes Style special. Check it out!
Who are you and what do you do?
As the product manager for the BlackBerry Style 9670 smartphone, I’m responsible for the end-to-end lifecycle of the product. I interface with many different teams within Research In Motion® (RIM) to help ensure the product is defined, implemented, and delivered to meet the needs of our customers. Things get very busy and exciting the closer we get to product launch, and it’s my responsibility to help ensure all things are in place for success! Once the product is launched and in the field, we monitor and follow up on any issues that need to be addressed, and collect feedback to make our future products better.
Is the BlackBerry Style an evolution of an existing product, or brand-new?
BlackBerry® Style™ is an extension of the BlackBerry smartphone product line in a new form factor. It’s a premium smartphone with large external and internal displays. For the first time in a BlackBerry smartphone, we have a full QWERTY keyboard and trackpad in a flip design. The device itself is full of great features including GPS, Wi-Fi® b/g/n, a 5 MP camera with video recording, 512 megabytes of internal memory and a 8GB microSD card.
It’s also our first CDMA device shipping with BlackBerry® 6 software, including the much-anticipated Webkit browser, simplified setup and navigation, universal search, and the new Social Feeds application.
The BlackBerry Style isn’t a touchscreen phone, so how does BlackBerry 6 differ on it versus the BlackBerry® Torch™ 9800 smartphone?
There’s no question that there are differences, but our user experience team has spent a lot of effort on making BlackBerry6 work effectively on non-touch devices. The biggest difference is in the device navigation — the same functionality is all there on the BlackBerry Style, just with trackpad swipes used instead of touch gestures on the screen. One example is zooming: instead of pinch and zoom on as on the BlackBerry Torch, we use a combination of the alt key and trackpad up and down swipes to zoom in and out.
What do you think will stand out when people first use it?
One thing I hear all the time is the difference between seeing photos and descriptions of the device and actually holding it in your hands. When you see and hold the BlackBerry Style you will immediately notice the elegant, premium design. Once the people start to use the BlackBerry Style smartphone, they will be amazed with the browser and other features of BlackBerry 6 – it’s familiar to longtime BlackBerry smartphone users, but also easy for those who are using a smartphone device for the first time.
As a flip phone, the BlackBerry Style has an interesting form factor. Why was this chosen?
Our market research has shown that there are a lot of people that prefer a flip form factor. They feel most comfortable opening the device to answer a call, and closing to hang up. They also like being able to close the device and know they can put it in their pocket or purse and not have to worry about accidental dialing. Being able to discretely check the external display screen to see incoming messages is also a great feature afforded by the form factor.
Why the name “Style”?
Early on in the program, there was much debate as to which BlackBerry product family this device belongs. As we went along, it became clear that there was no best fit – this is a unique device deserving of its own unique name. Our Brand Messaging team worked through a number of options for the name, and they ultimately chose “Style” to reflect the unique and distinctive nature of the device.
Were there any specific challenges with creating such a unique smartphone?
We wanted the full BlackBerry smartphone experience, which meant a full QWERTY keyboard and all the other functionality, but in a flip design. I think our Industrial Design team did a great job in integrating the full keyboard, camera, and dual LCDs into a solid form factor, especially in making sure the upper flip was as thin and elegant as possible. Another unique challenge with flip phones is to ensure that the flip hinge assembly is robust, and I’m really happy with results of our reliability testing on the hinge. We expect it to hold up well in daily use.
Is there a specific demographic being targeted for the BlackBerry Style smartphone?
We see a market for the BlackBerry Style smartphone amongst both male and female users. The BlackBerry Style is a great smartphone for those who prefer the flip form factor, or who may be trading up to a smartphone for the first time.
What’s your favorite feature of the BlackBerry Style smartphone?
My favorite feature of the BlackBerry Style is the form factor – I love being able to flip a BlackBerry smartphone closed. On the software side, universal search and the new browser in BlackBerry 6 are fantastic – I use them all the time.