Blackberry 9000 will get iTunes sync
Research In Motion officially announced the Blackberry 9000, its best answer yet to the iPhone. But music playback is more of an afterthought than a primary feature, as evidenced by RIM's decision to offer an iTunes sync application.
Smartphone fans are excited about yesterday's announcement of the, aka Blackberry Bold, aka Research In Motion's iPhone killer. But Blackberry users are a different breed than iPhone users--the Blackberry's reason for existence is always-connected e-mail, and Blackberry users tend to be all business, afraid of being out of touch for even a moment. (An old friend in Washington D.C.--where Blackberry users are legion--had to make a vow after her third child was born not to check her e-mail after 6 p.m.)
So while the iPhone grew out of the iPod, and thus counts music playback as one of its primary features, the Blackberry Bold focuses more on its core communications features--e-mail, messaging, and telephony--as well as new physical improvements, like a bright color screen. You can see this focus in the first detailed hands-on review of the product at Crackberry.com, where media playback isn't even mentioned until part III (of IV) and gets no more than a paragraph. And 1GB of onboard memory isn't really enough for serious music listeners anyway, although it's expandable to 16GB.
But the clearest indication of all: while the 9000 might echo past Blackberries and ship with a Roxio application for organizing music on your PC and transferring it to your phone, RIM is also preparing a new application called Blackberry Media Sync that will let you use Apple's iTunes to transfer files to the phone. Of course, once you do get music onto the device, a relatively powerful internal stereo speaker system might actually make listening without headphones a reasonable option--sort of like the boombox of tomorrow. The iPhone's speakers are apparently not quite up to the task.
Still, for music fans in desperate need of a new phone--like me--the iPhone is still the most obvious choice, especially now that a 3G model is almost certainly on the way. But if you're already a Blackberry fan, or are primarily concerned with having access to e-mail at all times, the 9000 seems like the clearest alternative to the iPhone.