Ouch: Webkit Browser Only Coming for BlackBerry OS 6

The completely redesigned browser in BlackBerry OS 6 will only be available on OS 6. That’s right, Research In Motion (RIM) has decided to only make the new Webkit-based browser available on the Torch 9800 and the select few existing devices that will be supported for upgrade to the new OS. Congratulations RIM, you just managed to anger everyone who has put up with the dismal browser you have been shipping for years.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with all the news coming out of RIM lately, its newest BlackBerry browser is a massive step up from previous versions. Built on the same Webkit platform that Apple and Google have built their mobile browsers on, RIM’s OS 6 browser is HTML5 compatible and significantly faster than previous versions. I would even go so far as to say that it actually makes the BlackBerry a fun device to browse the internet on. The new one also brings tabbed browsing and future support for Adobe’s Flash format when that finally gets a BlackBerry release (hopefully by the end of this year).

Since only the Torch 9800, Bold 9700, 9650 and Pearl 3G are expected to see BlackBerry OS 6, this leaves quite a few existing handsets out in the cold. In fact, most of them I would assume. While RIM might be hoping that excluding older devices from the new browser will boost sales for its smartphones, sales so far of the new Torch have been disappointing to say the least. Whether or not current BlackBerry users that have been waiting for a new browser will bother to upgrade or jump platforms to iOS or Android OS remains to be seen.

It is interesting to note that in browsing speed tests, the iPhone 3G is about equal with the Torch 9800. Why RIM has had so much difficulty matching the performance of two year old hardware is a serious question. Certainly, if an iPhone 3G with 128MB of RAM can browse the internet that quickly, then why won’t RIM put its new browser on its older BlackBerrys? Sigh.

How do you feel about this? Are you disappointed that your BlackBerry will never see the new browser? Is this going to actually make you upgrade? Or are you going to jump ship…

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