RIM's traditionally relied on unique staple services like BBM to hold onto customers, rather than huge innovations in the design department, but there may be a culture shift on the horizon for the company that's well known for yesteryear's form-factor. In an interview with Pocket-lint, Todd Wood, SVP of industrial design at RIM, says that upcoming designs will be "charming, whimsical, and fun." Wood explains that his design team headed to different locations around the world to draw inspiration for phone design — the BlackBerry Bold 9900 was inspired by the Bellagio in Italy, and the team headed to Malmo, Sweden for their latest workshop.
When it comes to user experience, Wood says that "consumers just see it all as BlackBerry, rather than software and hardware being separate," which lines RIM up with Apple circa 2007, when the iPhone debuted. If our sneak peek of what might be the BlackBerry London is accurate, RIM's certainly putting its money where its mouth is in terms of hardware design, and we'll have to wait and see if BBX matches up well.
Wood admits RIM has traditionally been all about "pure utility," but realizes that "people really like beautiful things." He also says that the company has "had very little competition in the last 10 years" — if he'd said "10 years ago" we might understand better where he's coming from.