Let's be frank: RIM's BlackBerry products are unilaterally, shall we say, unexciting. And RIM's new theme song should probably be this. And by "unexciting," I mean ugly, hopelessly dated, and so boring that a story about them spontaneously bursting into flames might actually give the company some much-needed edginess in their marketing campaigns. Maybe that's a bridge too far.

Anyway, when I read this morning that RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins, speaking to CrackBerry, said Android devices are "all the same," I couldn't help but go slack-jawed in a combination of muted laughter and near disbelief at the irony. I'm pretty sure RIM is the epitome of hardware and software sameness in the smartphone market. If it didn't have a tiny screen with a keyboard directly below it and it was a RIM product, it probably didn't sell very well.

So, in an attempt to educate Mr. Heins, who we assume also believes all butterflies, birds, and bats are "the same," we've created a little collage of the variation found in the Android ecosystem. To make it fair, in this first picture we've only included software keyboard smartphones running Android 2.3, to paint a more static picture of the Android OS. This first picture is really just about software (not to scale):


Manufacturers obviously have very little say in how the software on their Android device looks... if you live in Bizzaro World. But what about hardware? Clearly, the picture above shows us that Android is just a bunch of touchscreen candybars of varying size, right? Oh, wait (first two rows to scale):


Yeah, I think they all pretty much look alike. Superficial differences. Perhaps Mr. Heins' PR team should work on "clarifying" his comments, lest RIM seem even more out of touch with reality.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Rance

    This is full of win

  • DroidBricker

    Add some washing machines, refrigerators, ovens and car stereos to those pictures....lulzRIM.

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

      I make so many phone calls from my washing machine it's ridiculous.

      • Mgamerz

        He means the android framework that controls other stuff.. Was it called inHome?

        • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

          Well, Samsung does have a washing machine you can control from your Android device. I think that's what he was referring to. I don't remember how they implemented it (and I'm too lazy to look up the article).

        • http://nope.nope eric

          Useful, only if my washing machine has a drying function as well and I can scream "DRY!" into my phone then have my clothes ready in 37 minutes.

  • Claudio

    whats the different between the bold and the bold 2 anyway? or between the curve and the other curve? and the storm and the storm 2?

    • https://plus.google.com/117513212216084252526/posts Kyle Sonney

      The screen on the Storm 2 (9550) is a bit different, and the way it's mounted is the major difference between the Storm (9520 GSM and the 9530 CDMA) and the Storm 2. There are also some cosmetic changes and different internals.

    • VonLaserface

      I believe the biggest change in the Bold series beyond cosmetic changes is the touch screen. It still looks exactly like a Blackberry but now you can poke at it.

  • Rob

    What's the weird clamshell looking phone next to the Xperia Play and the weird shaped one underneath? o_O

    • VonLaserface

      To the right would be the Kyocera Echo (Sprint). Below, I believe is a Droid [insert number and or 'xtreme' term here].

      • operationjesus

        the one under teh Kyocera Echo is a Casio G'zOne Commando

        • VonLaserface

  • https://plus.google.com/117513212216084252526/posts Kyle Sonney

    I received a BlackBerry PlayBook for Christmas and I love it. I actually sold my Samsung Galaxy Tab because I'm so impressed with the OS on the BB tablet. It's only gonna get better when OS 2 drops in February, flame me all you want, but I'm no fanboy. I've owned WinMo phones, BBs and currently have an iPhone 4. I had, as I mentioned, a SGT until last week and there's nothing wrong with Android, the PlayBook just blew me away. I'll admit though, the BB smartphones aren't great, but they're better than WinMo if you ask me. If the upcoming BB smartphones (the ones that will be running BBX, which is QNX based) are anything like the tablet, I may be switching back to BB from my iPhone, (they're gonna have to wow me though) something I never thought would happen. I honestly thought that I'd go Android for my phone before I went back to a BB, but the QNX based OS is very nice, and the stock browser is just amazing, better than any browser I tried on Android. While I agree that most Android devices are the same at the core, there is SO much you can do with them to personalize them, something that is lacking on a BB and an iPhone (unless you jailbreak, that'll open up your options, but still not to the degree of Android). However, if the new CEO at RIM thinks that every BB is different, he needs to step down now, cuz they're all EXTREMELY similar! To each his own though.

    • Circs

      Subtle troll is surprisingly subtle.

      • nathan

        Of course all android phones are "mostly" the same down to the core. They're all running android! And compared to some devices running the same OS, android has a lot of diversity. TouchWiz, Sense, PhilBlur, etc.WindowsPhone would have been a better argument for this CEO.

  • Dave

    What are the Moto and Samsung phones with physical keyboard? Also what is the phone in the top left of the first collage?

    • Steve

      The candybar QWERTY is the Droid Pro, the slider is the Droid 4.

      As for the Samsung, I am not sure what that one is... but it isn't a Verizon phone or I would know. It looks like a Blackjack running Android. lol

  • Craig

    The "weird shaped one underneath" is the Verizon Casio G'zOne Commando
    I'm glad I didn't invest in RIM last week when they announced new leadership. This guy is a buffoon.

    Not sure what the Samsung Keyboard phone is, but the top left one in the first collage is a Moto Droid 4 and I believe tho Moto keyboard one is the Droid Pro.

    Ironic thing about this article is that people are asking what a specific Android phone is because they've never seen it before, but line up 20 BB devices and they would have to ask which was which because there are basically NO differences.

    • https://plus.google.com/117513212216084252526/posts Kyle Sonney

      I agree, not a smart thing to do in your first week as CEO. Instead of talking about other companies or OS's perhaps he should be working to better his own product line. But hey, what do I know! lol.

  • Hal Motley

    What's that phone on the right of the Xperia Play? It looks like a DS!

    I am also surprised that the Galaxy Nexus didn't make it into that collage but oh well.

    • drksilenc

      its the echo on sprint

      • Hal Motley

        Cool thanks! I told the guys on the Official Nintendo Magazine Facebook page about it, that will generate some interesting feedback!

  • edd

    Lol, I've always been a bit neutral on Blackberry - as in, just neutrally thinking they're a bit sh*t.

    But you know what? He wants to flame us? Done, I f***ing hate the things now! Cheap, plasticky, tiny buttons, ugly non-touch screens, bad UI... My parents both got one about a year ago and they can't wait to move to nice, big-screen, pretty Android!

    • KSW

      Back in the days of Windows Mobile 5,6, and 6.5.x, PalmOS, and Symbian majorities, BlackBerry phones were perfectly acceptable and did what they needed to do as a business/work device, and occasionally just as a secure communication tool. They physical keyboard was nice, and you didn't need to worry about protecting a touch-screen (there was no touch on them). The little rollerball was pretty awesome as a mouse too.

      Now, versus the fast innovation from Android (and its proliferation of device factors), the sleek sandbox of iOS, and even the lumbering but sexy behemoth of Windows Phone 7 and the instant multi-touch, application marketplaces, rabid developers who can make and publish applications for relatively cheap (a few hundred at most, versus a few thousand for just getting the SDK, not including signing keys and other things of early BBos apps), and numerous other advancements. Well RIM and BBos just looks silly by comparison.

      Further, their "Secure" messaging system has since been proven to be open to tampering from governments and outside agencies (or groups). At this point, the only way I think RIM can survive as a company is to rebuild themselves as a services platform on top of the other OS platforms. BB Messenger for iOS, Android, WP7. "Secure" enterprise compliant messaging that would be platform agnostic, with remote wipe of message contents. Tie these things into existing framework structures that already exist for enterprise BB and they may have a way to continue as a company.
      As a handset maker, I don't forsee them doing very well in the near future. The far future looks pretty bleak in my opinion.

  • thom

    Of course he would say something like that. I guess he won't be sending his resume to HTC anytime soon. Had a blackberry once, couldn't wait to upgrade after 3 months.

  • cosmic

    Lets see, almost done with a good OS update, check. Facing delays and delays with OS, check. Starting FUD about Android, check.

    Alright time to see if they follow the final steps that Nokia took by dumping their nearly complete OS.

  • VonLaserface

    If you ask me they'll be patent fodder if 2012 doesn't bring some serious changes. Even if they do release something magical and totally different this year they're going to have to do a helluva lot of work to get themselves a relevant chunk of market share because corporate accounts are the only thing keeping them even moderately relevant anymore.

    As for Thorsten Heins: http://tinyurl.com/7j3344c

  • SiliconAddict

    Looks pretty damn similar to me. I mean a few of those models are unique but the majority are slabs phones. The difference between them is negligible all because OMG we want it thin. So you get thin...the consequences being they all look the same with slight variance. Meh. Whatever.

    • David Ruddock

      Er, you realize there are only so many ways to shape a phone, right? It's not like it's some abstract object that can be shaped like a pyramid.

      Compared to BlackBerry, the variation on Android is massive. BlackBerry hasn't come up with an interesting design since... I don't know, ever? To be honest, I'm not even sure if I should just be treating you as a troll.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        It's SiliconAddict, "troll" sounds about right.

        Seriously, I can't tell any BB phones apart, they all look pretty much the same and do pretty much the same thing year over year. They even have trouble coming up with ways to advertise devices now - there really isn't anything to say at all about them that hasn't been said about the previous 9 models.

        • http://www.unlocktheinbox.com wpfn

          Doesn't matter. Troll or not - RIM is as good as dead. One new bonehead, ooops -CEO isn't going to save a complete history of crapola that drove more of the corporate world than anything. Once that's gone, he'll be begging to lick the boot of the mighty green robot!


      • http://mark.cdmaforums.com/equipment.htm Mark_Venture

        True there are only so many ways you can shape a phone... just as there are only so many ways you can shape a QWERTY keyboard phone.

        True enough, if you put phones by ALL the phone makers on the table next to each other, they will appear different enough. (otherwise we'd have apple not just suing Samsung for the look).

        Put my Thunderbolt, Bionic, Incredible, X, Devour, and original Droid next to each other they all look different (except Bionic and X).

        Rim is the only maker of Blackberry devices. So the phones they make are bound to look similar/the same.

        Now try comparing android phones from the same manufacturer....

        Put a Moto Droid X, X2 and Bionic next to each other. Both physically and software/UI wise they look as similar is if I put 3 different blackberries on the table. Put the Razr and Razr Maxx next to each other, again the same/similar (other than thickness). Now look at the software/UI on each of those.. again the same or similar.

        The Sense UI on the HTC incredible, incredible2, thunderbolt, and Rezound make them appear similar from a software stand point. Look at how physically similar the Incredible 2, Rezound and Rhyme look.

        Look at the Samsung Illusion and Stratosphere. Again very similar/same.

        and that only considers Android phones on Verizon. How close to the VZW HTC Thunderbolt does the ATT HTC Inspire look?

  • Ryan

    Wow.. When you put them all together like that, I can see how people would say the are the same! I guess I don't need a new phone after all! Thanks guy with the new RIM job!

  • duskywolf50

    Android phone look the same? So as blackberry look the same. Does they plan do major change? Cause RIM kinda dying business cause not enough creative plus more people want game graphic. I tired give them an advice but they won't listen so who care.

  • Ken

    I think it would be funny if he took at BlackBerries over the past couple quarters. Hmm...yeah they've changed DRASTICALLY

  • Corey

    i have a bb 9860 full touch and i love it as a corp phone and a secure phone unlike Android . OS7 is great and i switched form Android to BB for security reasons so BB is changing and i will stick with it until Android becomes more secure with there software to me it's not secure enough and Iphone is just over rated or should i say spy phone because if you don't have an iphone we can't watch you

    • Daniel Christensen

      Aye aye, 007, sir!

  • Codexx

    "Wow, that's a lot of iPhones!"

    - Samsung's Team of Lawyers/RIM's CEO

  • Deaner

    Android phones do all have something in common, They have never had a 4 day period of "no service" :-)

    • Steve

      That is, unless they use Verizon's 4G service! :-P

  • RaptorOO7

    Android devices are all the same . . . wait all RIM devices look the friggin same and yet they still can't get a decent device out the door on time, and they cannot get BBOS 10 out until when . . . EOY 2012. The stock is sinking faster than the titanic so they should really just sell off, but no one will buy them.

  • http://cafe-ti.blog.br Alroger Jr

    And you are not even showing the new Tablet generation (landscape), not to mention other appliances....
    What a wonderfull world.. just flashed ICS CM9 Alpha on my Galaxy Tab. :D

  • tk

    He doesn't have to know anything about his market. He just has to pretend like he has a really big secret that doesn't exist.

  • L boogie

    And this new leader would shine a light on RIM'S darkest hour and rescue the company from despair, too bad the company has suffered years of Wile e. Coyote foolproof operations.

  • L boogie

    And this new leader would shine a light on RIM'S darkest hour and rescue the company from despair, too bad the company has suffered from years of Wile e. Coyote foolproof operations.

  • Jon in Ohio

    Rim is correct. Every android device has the same very good "working Touch Screen" as apposed to the "5 touch screen blackberrys" I had that worked like crap.

  • Paul Elmy

    There's not even a single LG device. I like that.

  • Michael

    Don't forget to mention how different all the tablets are