Australian Department of Treasury swaps Blackberry for iPhone

The Australian Department of Treasury has announced its intentions to ditch its Blackberry devices and take on iPhone 5s. According to CNET, the department’s chief information officer Peter Alexander noted the change:

“We’re going to use Apple devices as our corporate platform — iPhones and iPads for now. Basically because iOS has been evaluated by Defence Signals Directorate.”

The department will adopt 250 devices in total. As RIM just announced the new Blackberry 10, timing is bad for the Canadian company. “With the new one being launched, it’s almost too late,” said Alexander. “Maybe it’ll catch up, maybe it won’t.”

Krikey.

RIM is Gene Simmons

Bruce Springsteen was huge in 1984. The Born in the USA tour was a success, as was the album of the same name. His music videos were all over MTV. “The Boss” was everywhere.

I remembrer buying an issue of Circus magazine [1. It might have been Creem. I don’t remember. If you do, let me know. Better yet, if you have a scan of the cover, please send it to me.] back then. The cover featured a huge picture of Springsteen, his fist raised triumphantly, that guitar hanging from his neck. A great shot, but there was something very silly in the background.

Way up in the corner was a teeny, tiny picture of Gene Simmons with the caption, “KISS says, ‘No, we’re The Boss!'”

I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen. Dumb and sad. KISS isn’t Springsteen and shouldn’t want to be. Gene and co. had their own thing going on. Sure, they didn’t own the mid-80’s like Bruce did, but telling fickle pop music fans, essentially, “KISS is all the Bruce you need!” wasn’t going to win their attention. Plus, it felt desperate.

Today, RIM is Gene Simmons. The Wake Up campaign is RIM saying, “No, we’re the boss!” from way up in the corner. And it’s very silly.

Beleaguered RIM

Poor RIM. Last week the befuddling “Wake Up!” flash mob chanted outside an Australian Apple Store and then wandered down the road. Many bloggers credited Samsung for the confusing demonstration, but the South Korean company denied involvement. This morning, RIM announced that it was behind the stunt.

“‘We can confirm that the Australian ‘Wake Up’ campaign, which involves a series of experiential activities taking place across Sydney and Melbourne, was created by RIM Australia,’ RIM said in a statement.”

What a mess. First, RIM goes through the trouble and expense of organizing and executing the event. People then credit a rival company and question the point of the whole thing. At last, RIM must sheepishly claim responsibility for the embarrassing stunt. Tiphereth Gloria, social media strategist at VML Australia, sees the punchline:

“The punch line – which is the fact that Blackberry is behind it – is what makes it fail because Blackberry is not associated with any kind of success. If they had run this around the initial uptake of the iPhone 3GS a couple of years ago, it might of had some relevance.”

As Michael Schechter said, “[I] can’t help but feel that RIM would have been better served having the flash mob show up at their own offices.”

US ATF abandons BlackBerry for iPhone

More bad news for RIM. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Chief Information Officer Rick Holgate has stated that the ATF will replace 3,800 BlackBerry handsets, sixty percent of which will be iPhones. Politico reports that about 2,400 special agents will start receiving their iPhones as early as March 2012.

“We’re going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix,” Holgate said.

Yikes.

[Via AppleInsider]

iPhone 4 extinguishes Torch in web browsing [Updated]

Sorry for the cheesy headline. I’m allowed one every now and then.

Here’s a video produced by crackberry.com that compares the web browsing performance of a BlackBerry Torch 9800, an iPhone 4 and a Samsung Captivate. They guys load several sites, both mobile-optimized and not, on all three devices simultaneously. They test performance over Wi-Fi and cell networks. The iPhone wins every time.

As the video progresses, the testers get desperate for their horse to win. At one point, Dieter [2. Update: Rene Ritchie points out that Dieter was more for the iPhone and the Captivate. Thanks, Rene.] notes that enabling Wi-Fi on the iPhone 4 is “…a fiasco.” Granted, he did encounter two unnecessary taps since his Settings app had been left in the Safari settings. But honestly, four taps to turn something on is hardly a “fiasco.” Do you know what is a fiasco? When the entire European Commission and all of Saudi Arabia decide not to use BlackBerries. That’s a fiasco.

Later, when all three devices have loaded the full version of National Geographic, the Torch obviously struggles with pinch-and-zoom and scrolling. Its anemic Qualcomm MSM7600 CPU is almost certainly to blame.

Finally, the testers agree that the Torch would beat the iPhone 3GS. It seems odd to compare RIM’s latest and greatest to Apple’s model from last year, no?

BlackBerry Torch [Updated]

Oh, RIM. Adding a multi-touch display while keeping the slide-out physical keyboard demonstrates that you don’t truly get the iPhone aesthetic. When Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007, he noted that the problem with smartphone user interfaces is in the collection of  buttons in the “bottom 40.” Here’s why.

First, they’re always there. They don’t get out of the way when you don’t need them. RIM and others have decided that the solution is to put the lot on a sliding tray that can be hidden behind the touch screen. It’s a logical choice but not the best one. If  your fingers are already on the touchscreen, why move them off to enter text? Plus, you’ve added a moving part that’s going to eventually break.

Also, Steve asked, what happens six months from when you get a great idea that requires a new button? You can’t add it because the devices have already shipped.

RIM’s hesitation is grounded in fear that users will complain loudly if they take the that keyboard away. Apple never had it and can’t keep iPhones on the shelves. It’s time, RIM. Lose the keyboard.

Update: Scott McNulty notes that the physical keyboard makes email much more useable. I haven’t used one for email, but I trust his judgement.