RIM announced Blackberry 6 yesterday, along with a new device called the Torch, to be released in the US on August 12. Users of some older Blackberry devices will be able to upgrade to the new OS, but unfortunately the upgrade will not be extending too far back in the product line (Bold 9700, Bold 9650, Pearl 3G). A Cnet article has a nice rundown of the new feature, which are no secret, because RIM has been keeping up a steady stream of information and video demos of the new OS for several months.Probably the most welcome new feature is a new, WebKit-derived browser. The browser has always been the Blackberry weak point when compared to the iPhone and Android. A lot of the other functionality seems to be trying to move the Blackberry firmer into the general-purpose entertainment device realm that the iPhone has staked out: better multimedia, texting, and social networking features.
As for the device itself, there’s no surprise. It looks like it’s playing on Blackberry’s strengths: conservative design and a good keyboard. But it’s unlikely to lure people away from the iPhone/Android duopoly. It’s primary aim is more likely to keep existing Blackberry users happy, I’d suspect, and it will probably do that. PC World has a good overview of critical reaction to the Torch, and its verdict is that it’s not going to do much to attract new users to the platform.