Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old Design vs. New(er) Design (BlackBerry)

My BlackBerry 8830 (the one on the right, below) started crashing a few days ago, so while I'm waiting for its replacement from Verizon I've been using my old BlackBerry 7250. It's been a pleasure to remember the good elements of this design that were lost when RIM made choices in favor of other priorities.

This device came out over four years ago, perhaps even more than five years ago. I found a review from April 2004 but couldn't easily find when the 7200 series was first announced.

First, it's amazing that the new release of the GMail for BlackBerry application works perfectly on the old machine. Certainly it's slower, but it's still perfectly functional. Isn't it wonderful that a device from almost five years ago can run one of the newest of applications?

Second, design of the old machine has a classic simplicity that I miss. It's simple black and silver. Its round shape fits well into my hand in a way that the newer BlackBerrys don't. (Admittedly my hands--and those of my wife who still uses her 7200 series--are relatively large and so smaller hands would find it less attractive.) It's lacking the SEND and END buttons that RIM added to BlackBerrys with models that followed (added so that they could appeal to a broader audience who were switching over from traditional mobile phones). Finally, its keyboard is designed for typing. Look at how much more closely spaced the keys are on the newer models. The 7200 series is a great example of elegant, purpose driven design in which form follows function to the benefit of both form and function. The 7200 series reminds me of Bang and Olufsen stereos or some of the classic designs from Braun.

I wish RIM would launch a special edition of the 7200 series, with the case and keyboard of the 7200 and the speed and screen of the 8830--or better yet, the new Bold. That would be a special device. Of course they never will. I wish I had time, skills and money on my hands to do a real mashup of the two. That would one worthwhile mod.

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franke said...

Terrific comparison. RIM designers should see it. I agree the rounded design, wider keys were good.

Kelly Brueggemann said...

Your wishes may come true, Joseph. If you have some free time, I suggest you write a letter to Blackberry's website - they might consider your idea, you know. Anyway, I'm sorry about what happened to your BlackBerry 8830. I hope you'll get it sooner and better than ever. :( Well, the BlackBerry 7250 is not bad to use as temporary replacement. :)

Kelly Brueggemann