Will BlackBerry 6 OS help level the mobile playing field?

ANALYSIS: BlackBerry 6 adds the visual polish to compete with iPhone and Android.

"We have to honour what we have in BlackBerry and move to a more modern and cool interface," Yach says; "Part of the challenge is to balance those two."

The real challenge may be to get users to appreciate what BlackBerry already does. With the new look, Yach believes comparisons between BlackBerry and other smartphones will allow BlackBerry's strengths to shine. "Really, what I'd like to do with the user experience on BlackBerry 6 and the new browser is to neutralise that as a competitive issue, so that to compete people have to dig into security, into the architecture, into battery life and push - all those things we have agonised over for years that get ignored right now. I want to move the battleground back to our turf," he said.

RIM has drawn attention to reports from Rysavy Research claiming that the BlackBerry is three times more efficient at web browsing than other smartphones and Yach claims the new browser in BlackBerry 6 takes the same advantage of the way the BlackBerry manages the network connection, turning off the radio more quickly.

"What we've done with BlackBerry 6, especially with what we're doing in the browser, means we're still ensuring our efficiency with the network link and that impacts not only shared network resources but also the battery life," he claims.

McQuire concurs that that gives RIM definite advantage over the iPhone with users and mobile operators.

"Apple's device is very consumptive on the mobile network. Operators experience problems in their network because of iPhone and that favours the approach RIM has taken," he said.

We've yet to see what Apple will announce for iPhone 4.0 and Google is adding new features to Android rapidly, but BlackBerry will come to market months ahead of Windows Phone 7 with significant improvements over already popular devices and McQuire believes it can achieve the balancing act. "I think it won't alienate the existing base of business customers," he said. "RIM is moving more into the individual personal needs of productivity and in terms of lifestyle as well - that's kind of the sweet spot."

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