BlackBerry and Blue, Again

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The reviews are in for Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) newest BlackBerry Bold 9900, and they're … average. PC World compiled most of them into a single piece. What jumps out at me in reading the article are the nodding heads that say, essentially: "Yep, it's good. But it's also still just a BlackBerry."

Or, as Matt Warman of U.K. newspaper The Telegraph put it: "the Bold's simply a lovely, somewhat enhanced phone. From a few years ago."

Ouch. Faint praise doesn't come much more damning than that. But are you really surprised? Not only is the BlackBerry OS giving way to the more-heralded QNX mobile operating system, but users have taken to both Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android devices in such numbers that anything short of a game-changing device would be yawn-worthy.

Looking at the feature list reveals the new Bold to be anything other than a game-changer:

  • A bright, 4.53 x 2.60 inch touchscreen display.
  • A 5-megapixel camera.
  • A 1.2 GHz Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) processor.
  • A built-in QWERTY keyboard.
  • Near-field communications (NFC) support for acting as a mobile wallet.

Save for the keyboard and NFC, the iPhone has all this and a lot more apps. Android is also blessed with more apps, while some devices using the OS also have keyboards. Meanwhile, Google has partnered with NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq: NXPI  ) to create an end-to-end mobile wallet platform. Android devices that don't already have NFC built in will get it before long.

See the problem here? The Bold 9900 has the same issue as the PlayBook. Neither awful nor remarkable, RIM's latest offering gives users no compelling reason to switch from what they already own. Rather, the device caters to upgraders in a still-substantial but slow-growing installed base -- a lousy combination that's led to poor earnings and a large and ongoing selloff. Don't be surprised if short sellers pile on.

Do you agree? Disagree? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to tell us your thoughts about Research In Motion and the latest BlackBerry. You can also add Research In Motion to your watchlist for up-to-date analysis on the stock as soon as it’s published.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Qualcomm, Apple, and Research in Motion. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, and NXP Semiconductors and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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