Five Reasons To Wait On BlackBerry Bold

Andrew R. Hickey
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smart phone 3G BlackBerry Bold hit AT&T stores today

By many accounts, the BlackBerry Bold 9000 is a smart phone lover's dream, packing in a host of corporate functionality like BlackBerry's gold standard for e-mail, messaging, organizing and mobile browser, and also offers a host of multimedia capabilities, including a media player for music, video and photos; a 2 megapixel camera with built-in flash, zoom and video recording; and an optimized Web browser.

But you might want to think twice before running out and dropping $300 (after rebates and a signed contract) on a BlackBerry Bold just yet, and here are five reasons why:

1. The 3G network issues between BlackBerry and AT&T might not be hammered out just yet

One of the key reasons the BlackBerry Bold's official release was continually delayed was so more testing could be performed to ensure it works correctly on AT&T's high-speed 3G network. BlackBerry wanted to avoid any early release hiccups like the ones Apple and AT&T experienced when the Apple iPhone 3G launched. At the time, iPhone users complained of slow data rates, poor performance and dropped calls. Apple later issued a software update that quelled the problem. But the Bold has yet to truly prove itself on AT&T's 3G network. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis even blamed the iPhone's 3G flap for the Bold's delays.

"There's great scrutiny, as you might know, on that network and a certain device," Lazaridis told the Associated Press. "So I guess everyone wants to be sure on every last test."

2. Smart phone prices are bound to drop

As the busy holiday shopping season blows in, smart phone prices will likely decrease. It's already started with the T-Mobile G1, the device based on the open source Google Android operating system. Just a week after the G1 became available to the public, T-Mobile authorized Wal-Mart stores to start selling the device for about $30 cheaper than T-Mobile stores were selling it for. The rapid price drop sparked some minor outrage among smart phone buyers. A similar price drop could happen with the BlackBerry Bold, especially as the device is expected to become available in Best Buy Mobile stores within the next few weeks. Why pay $300 now when it could be cheaper later?

3. Other carriers may get the Bold

Right now, the BlackBerry Bold is exclusive to AT&T in the U.S., but as other carriers like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile bulk up their 3G networks, it's possible the Bold could make the jump to their networks. BlackBerry has a proven track record of launching carrier-exclusive devices that later end up with other providers. When BlackBerry launched the Pearl in 2006, it was exclusive to T-Mobile. Now, the Pearl is available from a host of carriers including Verizon Wireless and AT&T. If you're considering a BlackBerry Bold, but don't want to switch carriers, patience may win out.

4. The next generation could be better

As with most devices, the second generation will be better than its predecessor by leaps and bounds. Look at the dramatic differences between the iPhone and the iPhone 3G, for example. Yes, BlackBerry isn't Apple, but it does have a history of updating devices and adding new features and functions not available in the inaugural model. The Pearl 8120, for example, features Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet access while the Pearl 8100 does not. With all the bells and whistles the Bold offers already, it's unclear what BlackBerry could add to make it better, but you might kick yourself if you miss it.

5. The Bold isn't the only hot new BlackBerry

RIM has been hard at work putting together new smart phones to target every type of user, and this year RIM has added some of the best devices in BlackBerry's 10-year history to its already impressive roster. Last month, BlackBerry began selling its first ever flip phone, the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 in T-Mobile stores. Later this month, the BlackBerry Storm will make landfall. The Storm is BlackBerry's first ever touch screen device, putting BlackBerry among an elite group of touch screen titans like the T-Mobile G1 and the Apple iPhone 3G. The release date for the Storm has yet to be disclosed, though there has been speculation of when it will land in stores. Lastly, BlackBerry is also readying the BlackBerry Curve 8900, also known as the BlackBerry Javelin, a handheld similar to the Bold but taking many cues from the Curve line of devices. The Javelin is expected to hit stores by year's end.

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