Can the Torch be RIM’s guiding light?

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the first handset to run RIM’s new operating system, and is thus somewhat of a (much needed) flagship device for the company.

Since the company’s humble foundations were set in 1999 with the first BlackBerry device, RIM has grown into its role as a leader in the smartphone marketplace — especially in the business device department.

But in recent years, its position (and smartphone market share) has eroded as powerful, fun devices like Google’s Nexus One, Motorola’s Droid and Apple’s iPhone 4 stole the hearts and dollars of the smartphone-buying population.

For these reasons, RIM needed to pull out the big guns: to build a smartphone that bundled all its most loved features (e-mail, messaging, notifications, and great physical keyboards) into a striking new device that embraced technology and led the smartphone world forward.

Is the BlackBerry Torch the flagship device that is going to propel RIM into the high-tech future of smartphones?

If you believe Mike Lazaridis, RIM president and co-CEO, it is. “This is one of the most significant launches in RIM’s history,” announced Lazaridis during the press event last week.

“With a new user interface, new browser and new handset design, the highly anticipated BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 deliver integrated and uncompromising capabilities for consumers and business professionals that preserve the industry-leading strengths of the BlackBerry platform while adding exciting new dimensions.”

The technology blogs were not so confident about the device’s merits.

“Underwhelming BlackBerry spells doom for RIM,” wrote’s Wilson Rothman while BGR called the new OS “uninspired, old, clunky sometimes, and cluttered,” adding that “the screen is laughable.

For a company that is always ‘planning three years out’ they surely didn’t get the memo that a 480 x 360-pixel, poor, poor LCD wasn’t going to cut it in 2010.”

Business Insider’s Dan Frommer agreed saying, “Sorry, But The BlackBerry Torch Won’t Save RIM.”

Interestingly enough, the general buzz about the device on Twitter was much more positive.

“Ok how much do I really want that new BlackBerry Torch... let’s just say I am gonna get it when it comes out!”, “I’ve been waiting to see what #BlackBerry would bring out his summer and I’m not disappointed at all...#bb #torch rocks!”, “I’m a Nokia girl at the moment, but I love the idea of both touch and keyboard on the #torch” and “The BlackBerry Torch looks like a combo of what I think I’d like in the iPhone with the keyboard I need in BlackBerry,” tweeted users from their Twitter accounts. — Relaxnews

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