Wednesday 9 May 2018

BlackBerry Bold 9000 (2008)

BlackBerry Bold 9000
Launched May 2008

You might say that the modern smartphone revolution started in January 2007 with the launch of the original iPhone, which is probably true. But it isn’t the case that everything before the iPhone was some sort of clunker, and everything afterwards was some sort of clone. The BlackBerry Bold 9000 – launched in May 2008 – not only ignored the iPhone completely, but it was also a significant sales success.

The BlackBerry Bold 9000 is perhaps the archetypical BlackBerry messaging device. An evolution of what creators RIM had been doing for years, the Bold retained the classic BlackBerry physical keyboard, excellent messaging capabilities and brilliant display characteristics of its predecessors. But now it was easier to use with a little trackball, and it packed in 3.5G data, WiFi and GPS (easily outclassing the iPhone) plus expandable memory and good music playback cababilities in a lightweight unit that could happily work for days on a single charge.

Messaging was the killer app that set the BlackBerry range apart from everything else. Offering quick and easy-to-use email messaging for both corporate customers and individuals, the Bold 9000 expertly delivered the internet feature that everyone at the time cared about.

Apps were so-so, but the original iPhone didn’t even have downloadable apps. Web browsing was pretty unpleasant too, but in 2008 there were hardly any sites optimised for mobile browsing. The Bold did everything that consumers thought they wanted, and as result it sold in large numbers, creating significant sales growth for RIM.

The problem was that what consumers wanted was changing. The original iPhone was limited in what it could do, and was slow. But only a one month after the Bold 9000 was launched, Apple came up with the much improved iPhone 3G. The world’s first Android smartphone – the T-Mobile G1 – was launched a few months later. The sand was shifting under RIM’s feet, and it was quickly becoming clear that RIM was not shifting with them.

A second-hand BlackBerry Bold 9000 is probably not anyone’s idea of a good time, so it might not surprise you to find out that second-hand units are dirt cheap. It’s certainly a device that was critical to the growth of RIM, but perhaps history has overlooked this useful little messaging smartphone.

Image credit: RIM / BlackBerry

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