BlackBerry Storm is 'just smaller' netbook claims RIM CEO

When your product is faced with competition you can either convince people the rivals aren't worth it, or that they're not really rivals at all.  The slightly trickier latter route is that taken by RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, when CNET Asia asked him what threat he perceived to the BlackBerry range from netbooks.  According to Lazaridis, handsets like the BlackBerry Storm are in fact netbooks; they're just smaller.

" I think I can put Netbooks in here [referring to the BlackBerry Storm]. These are Netbooks. They are just smaller" Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO, RIM

Unfortunately CNET don't go on to challenge Lazaridis on his claim, nor go into where netbooks and smartphones such as the BlackBerry differ.  The interview proceeds to touch on RIM's upcoming Application Store and what focus they have on touchscreens in future handsets; hardware keyboard addicts will be pleased to hear that RIM see touch-sensitivity as just one relevant input method, and don't envisage transitioning all devices over to touchscreens.

"What a touch screen allows you to do is have a full-screen device. You are not taking up space with the keypad, yet at the same time, people love these [physical] keypads. So I believe people like different things. Not everyone drives the same kind of car, wear the same kind of clothes and carry the same kind of mobile device. People will choose the devices that they like, and if you look at what we are doing with the Pearl Flip for example, we are creating different kinds of devices for people who have different needs and desires" David J. Smith, Senior Director, CDMA Handhelds, RIM

As for features in upcoming devices, both execs play RIM's cards close to their chest.  The differentiating factor in 2009, they suggest, will be improvements in network speed, which will allow increased functionality from web-based and web-enabled – rather than necessarily phone-based – applications.