A couple of days ago RIM released a software update to the new Bold. It turns out that the software stack on this device has been the cause of a lot of issues for RIM and it's partners: Some operators (like AT&T) have refused to ship the device with the previous software offering, and others have halted sales of the device until the fixes were ready. All in all a pretty miserable device launch for RIM (especially for a new flagship product).
Because RIM's got access to all of their devices on the network, I happened to get a notice on my BlackBerry telling me that there was an update available, and that I could get it by visiting a certain website. When I got there, I found that (unsurprisingly) I had to download a 93 MB file, launch Windows on my machine (sigh), and go through the update process.
Notwithstanding that having to use only a Windows PC to update my BlackBerry is pretty obnoxious, the entire upgrade process was far from uneventful. See, what happens is that the installer does a backup of your device, wipes it, reloads the new operating system, and then your old data.
Well, mine got half-way through the reloading phase and freaked out. So, I momentarily had a shiny brick instead of a BlackBerry. Great.
I managed to get the new operating system installed on my device... but of course, BlackBerry desktop was too stupid to realise that I'd done this because it had failed in the middle of the update the last time. Yippee.
It turns out that BlackBerry Desktop *does* leave a backup file around that you can use to restore all of your information... or so it seems. After restoring the backup I noticed that I had all my contacts, and settings... but no apps. All those applications I'd downloaded to my BlackBerry, that I *watched* getting saved in the backup process? Gone. Why? Guess RIM thinks it makes sense to store one half of your backup somewhere and the other somewhere else (and hidden). Brilliant thinking, here.
Why is this so upsetting? Well the Bold is supposed to have over-the-air update functionality. Does it? Anyone's guess... but if it does, RIM's sure done a terrible job taking advantage of it. What's worse is that my Kindle... a simple book reader, does OTA updates, and does them beautifully.
I was flipping through the "content manager" on my Kindle recently and realised the menus had a few new (and useful) features there. Where'd they come from? No idea. It seems my Kindle silently upgraded itself, and kept on working splendidly...
Even more a sign that RIM's tech is slipping behind is the fact that Android includes OTA update capabilities, and is actually using them. The first batch of G1 is supposed to get an OTA update, which, considering the device just launched is at once distressing and impressive.
Either way, anything's better than the invasive, time-wasting, multi-step, failure-ridden process that RIM's got going for it today... hopefully they've got some bright folks in Waterloo working on it.