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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

Research In Motion's Terrifying Vision of the Near Future

Concept videos from RIM show us a future in which the tyranny of the touch screen is all consuming, and, ironically, the BlackBerry has ceased to exist.

  • November 1, 2011

If you want to know what the Uncanny Valley looks like when applied to the translation of enterprise software to the touch screen (and who doesn’t?) watch RIM’s “leaked” new concept videos. I’ll wait.

Update: In a tacit acknowledgement of the terribleness of these videos, RIM has gone on a rampage of takedown requests in order to rid the internet of them. That rarely works. Until they find this one too, here’s an alternate version of at least one of the videos.

In the second and more revealing design provocation (above), we get to watch an enterprise IT guy who probably wishes he could just do this all in the command line, where it would be ten times as fast, give his arms a workout as he sets up the permissions for a new user in his company’s IT system.

As if that were the one area of enterprise software that were the most badly in need of a UI overhaul.

Then the new user shows up and, in possibly the most absurd use of augmented reality ever, her phone shows her where her new desk is. (God forbid she should chat with the office manager on her first day.)

I could go on. But perhaps the most terrifying part of this vision is that, as good as this video is at making touch screen technology feel utterly superfluous in the context of getting real work done, none of the devices pictured even vaguely resemble a BlackBerry.

RIM has envisioned for us a future in which iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S look-alikes have taken over, and RIM is nowhere to be seen. What is that supposed to say about their current lineup of devices, all of which continue to resolutely evoke the stylings of 1st-generation Kindles. Indeed, what does that say about the future of the company itself?

Here’s the second video in the series, which also manages to boil down the infinite possibilities augmented reality to the most unexciting nub conceivable – in this case, GPS navigation.

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