New BlackBerrys will soon look and feel like BlackBerry's Playbook tablet, co-CEO Jim Balsillie strongly suggested at the Web 2.0 Summit. Balsillie relayed an audience member's question before answering it: "What you are asking is, when are we going to shrink the packaging so that you can hold it up to your ear." Good question.
His answer: "I can't get into future products, but it's not the hardest thing in the world to repackage." Balsillie says it's just a matter of shrinking down the PlayBook's interface to the size of a smartphone screen.
RIM has clearly been trying to make its BlackBerry smartphones a little sexier, see the company's new BlackBerry Torch, which looks much less utilitarian and a lot more "designed."
RIM now seems poised to do the same thing to the inside of its phones, the user interface, perhaps to appeal to mobile users who are addicted to their BlackBerrys but admire the look of the iPhone's UI.
Google announced support for mobile payments in Android at Web 2.0 yesterday, and, not to be outdone, Balsillie says BlackBerrys will soon do the same. This means that the phones will have near field communications (NFC) chips onboard, allowing them to issue financial credentials at the point of sale. In other words, you will soon be able to pay for things using your phone, instead of having to dig out your credit card.