NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Well lookie here, if there ain't an actual business case for the new BlackBerry OS 7 phones.
Research In Motion's
latest operating system, known as OS 7, has been a business nonstarter since its announcement earlier this year. Really nothing more than a refresh of OS 6, this latest riff on the BlackBerry mobile operating experience is all about a few buffed-up features: increased speed, new apps and some security tools.
Businesses may be surprised to find there's an actual case to be made for the new BlackBerry OS 7 phones.
Make no mistake, OS 7 will not address the long-term problems dragging down RIM. The smartphone market continues to leave this once-storied mobile phone maker behind. And with
now in the handset business, let's be real here, life will only get tougher for RIM.
But -- and this is an intriguing "but" -- now that actual
OS 7 versions of the BlackBerry Bold, Torch and Curve
started shipping this week, from the likes of
, gosh darn it if there is not a sneaky yet compelling business argument for getting one or more these upgraded BBerrys in your shop.
RIM's Cash For Mobile Clunkers campaign
After watching this company pull one boneheaded move after another (can anybody say "Botched PlayBook tablet rollout"?) how refreshing is it to see something smart: If you buy a new OS 7 phone, and you have an old BlackBerry, RIM will give you up to $100 for it as long as the old phone is fully functional. Branded as
, for up to six phones -- above that they will give you a quote -- RIM will refund you up to a C note for each and every phone. Old trade-in devices have to qualify, a rebate formula must be met and things must be mailed. But line the stars up and RIM pays you to get a new phone. I mean, really.
OS 7 phones are solid business tools
Call me a shameless BlackBerry partisan, but while OS 7 is an incremental step, it is not a bad step. OS 7 Bberrys really are faster, have better-looking screens and come with nice business features. I liked the high-quality voice search, some nice Documents to Go support and two slick biz apps called BlackBerry Protect and Balance. Protect allows your business to remotely monitor, configure and wipe, if necessary, a remote smartphone so when the next phone goes south, your whole business life doesn't make that Antarctic voyage with it. And Balance sequesters business tasks from personal stuff on a BlackBerry, which helps keep your people on track. Of course, none of these features are perfect and they take real effort to deploy. You know the mobile business Web deal. But you should find OS 7 devices to be surprisingly incrementally useful over that creaky old BlackBerry in your pocket.
BBerry's Epic battery life
iPhone, my Droid, and my Incredible are incredible -- when they are charged. Which gets harder to do the longer I own them. Compare that best-effort battery life to the raw power potential of say, a Bold: six-some hours of talk time, a dozen some-odd days of standby time, 50 hours of audio playback. And then there's BBerrys' incredibly thrifty power consumption for data access. I have gone days without charging test BBerrys with reasonable usage. I find there is just not that level of power reserve on other smartphones.
Sure, a new OS 7 phones won't solve RIM's business problems. But between the price, the useful new features and the stout batteries, one of these phones might just solve your business' problems.
And that, friends, is what really matters.
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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.