Does the Blackberry Need a Better Browser?

I was on a plane earlier today sitting next to someone with an iPhone. One of the things I’ve been wondering a lot lately is whether RIM made a mistake by not investing more research and energy in making a better web browsing experience for the last few versions of the Blackberry. Whenever I talk to iPhone users, they spend a lot more time telling me about how great the browsing experience is than about how great it is to have iTunes or YouTube on your phone.

In the last few years, each successive version of the Blackberry has given me lots of new useful features, including the ability to handle multimedia content (video, pictures, and such). At the end of the day, I don’t use that stuff very much. Having a much better browser combined with the already awesome QWERTY keyboard would really help the Blackberry remain world class in the world of mobile web browsing.

Given that the iPhone and the Blackberry are two of the largest smartphone platforms here in the United States, it would probably be worth it for some browser team to build something great from the Blackberry – Mozilla and Opera both come to mind.

Feel free to drop a comment below if you like.

  • charles

    Steven,

    Yes, BGR keeps talking about that device. I will believe it when I can finally touch it.

  • I completely agree that the browser on the iPhone is the “killer app”. My iPhone has proven to an invaluable tool to me as I can access any of our web based systems and can work within our CRM application. My understanding is that most if not all other phones (blackberry included) do not have adequate JavaScript support to allow for a true online experience. Until others add this to their phones, Apple has a significant advantage for anyone who relies on web based applications.

  • The absence of a solid browser has been one of the big Blackberry mysteries as RIM has pushed into the pro-sumer market. It should be interesting to see if the iPhone compels RIM to finally pay attention to a new and improved browser.

  • The killer app is not just the iPhone browser, but the browser combined with the growing number of iPhone-specific apps that use the same UI and take advantage of Safari’s special caching rules. The main apps I use are: Google Reader, Twitter, Remember the Milk (tasks) and BeeJive (IM client). However, when the SDK comes out, I’m not sure how much I’ll use Safari since I’ll have native apps.

    As a developer, I’m happy to see the side effect of the iPhone being an increased interest in web standards, smaller page footprints and cleaner UI for those sites that can’t do a mobile-specific version.

  • Mic

    A full featured Safari browser is key to a lot of folks. With an iPhone, I can still check any of my web based email accounts and even route the ones that have POP/SMTP through gmail. Although the Blackberry 9000 looks good, it’s still going to lack the browsing experience — which is going to be a huge factor in the years ahead. Mail isn’t everything and RIM should realize that.

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