1. Plazmic Flame's Avatar
    The Blackberry Urraco. A concept device physically produced for RIM back in 2009!

    The moment I saw the device, I immediately thought of an Audi R8 or the Audi RSQ concept car. While the design of the Urraco's front face is not that great, the design language of the rear is great.

    Full article below...

    Could This Forgotten Concept Phone Have Saved BlackBerry?


    Life aint easy in the smartphone game. Just ask Research In Motion, whose share of the U.S. smartphone market is taking a beating from all sides. In the summer of 2009, though, RIM was feeling more confident. The internal design team wanted some fresh ideas about how to evolve the BlackBerry Pearl product line, which maintained the physical keyboard that hardcore brand loyalists craved, but slimmed down the overall form factor into a shape that would broaden the brands appeal beyond the ranks of government employees and lawyers.

    ChauhanStudio, a London-based design agency, was hired to create some concept designs. After 12 weeks of work, Tej Chauhan and his team delivered physical mockups of a design called the BlackBerry Urraco--named after a Lamborghini. You can see why: the phones angular-but-flowing profile looks a lot like its namesake. It has a physical keyboard, but no ugly keys--just a flexible membrane that illuminates when the phone is activated, which provides haptic feedback when pressed.
    Even though its two and a half years old, it looks fresh and innovative. Its silhouette is bold and unique, and yet, just familiar enough to be recognizable as unmistakably "BlackBerry." RIM never produced it. Was that a mistake?

    "This was always a concept project, not for production," Chauhan tells Co.Design. "BlackBerry was doing really well at the time we took this on. Theyd already had the next-gen Pearl phones designed. What they wanted was some sort of idea of where that category of phones could go after that generation. When you think 'BlackBerry,' you think 'a tool for work.' This was an opportunity to break that cycle visually."

    Chauhans approach involved "dial[ing] in enough BlackBerry design DNA to be still recognizable as a BlackBerry product, while really seeing how we could push the boundaries." That meant combining traditionally masculine and feminine attributes, "hard and soft aspects at the same time, edges and angles and curves."

    It also meant preserving the all-important (at that time) physical keyboard while updating its appearance to reflect the emergence of sheer, glassy touchscreen phones. "Our 'hidden-to-lit approach, was about trying to create a memorable silhouette without visual interference from physical keys," Chauhan explains. "Our designs used a flexible membrane: they werent separated keys, but youd still get a haptic response. When the product was switched off, you wouldnt know it was a keyboard, but theyd light up and become visible when you turned it on. That let us achieve a very clean read when the product was off, like a black liquid pool that tips over the edges of the phone."
    Joel Blair, designer of his own line of Detraform phones, praises the Urraco concept. "It doesnt follow or build on Apples designs. As an object, its superior to the iPhone and looks more functional as a phone," he tells Co.Design. "RIM had a game changer on their hands but they decided to produce more of the same unappealing products. We all know whats happening to RIM now with mass layoffs and service outages."

    So could something like the Urraco really have rewritten the last two years of RIMs history? Anyone can speculate. And there are probably myriad reasons--not all of them unreasonable, perhaps--why RIM couldnt or wouldnt have tried to bring an Urraco-like design to market. "Sometimes we know that were being asked to do something thats going to be a roadmap for future production, and sometimes just for general inspiration. This was the latter," Chauhan reiterates. "We believe wholeheartedly in what we delivered, but would it have made a difference about where RIM is now? Who knows."

    "It certainly would have generated some positive publicity for them, maybe engage with a different sector," he continues. "I think BlackBerry has been fantastic at making business-focused tools, and a broader, younger audience was already beginning to embrace the BlackBerry brand anyway. I just dont believe the design language was quite geared to that audience. Id have loved to see the Urraco launched. It would certainly have generated some interest. Thats what I believe--we wouldnt have done it otherwise."

    dtrue05 likes this.
    03-31-12 09:21 AM
  2. luancuvi's Avatar
    That back might be a nice starting point... and the general concept on the source's website is just awesome!
    Last edited by luancuvi; 03-31-12 at 09:50 AM.
    03-31-12 09:47 AM
  3. mithrazor's Avatar
    I feel like it's one of those things that look cool as a concept. But when brought to actual production, it would get slammed.

    But to me, it doesn't look good in concept. The bump on the back, and the front, completely not appealing to me.

    But I like the style of the back though. Like you said, it reminds me of an Audi.
    04-01-12 12:32 AM
  4. Blackberry_boffin's Avatar
    Even in 2009, that will not have worked, esp the front. It is so unwieldly.
    The back is great though and could have worked, even in black chrome. But it is just the finish really.
    They would have had to slim it down (a lot), move the bump closer to the camera and flattened the remaining area to enable it to sit on flat surface. And WHAM the sexiness would have been lost. And why did it need to bulge on the sides too? Trying hard to 'not be an iphone?'
    In 2009 RIM design was not really wanting in the looks department, The Storm was not let down by looks. It was let down by Surepress (which resulted in that loose screen) and lag. RIM would have done worse by canning it for this monstrosity.
    04-01-12 12:35 PM
  5. Degenerate423's Avatar
    The reason why I switched to BB was because I hated pressing 1 key multiple times to get the correct letter. It could've replaced the Pearl, but not the Tour/Bold. That being said, it still wouldn't have saved BB. What could have saved BB? The desperation and innovation we're seeing now, in 2005.
    jkomo001 likes this.
    06-07-12 02:59 AM
  6. antheauxny's Avatar
    My first thought when I saw this was "is that an Apple mouse?"

    Thats what it looks like to me. :/ lol.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9930 using Tapatalk
    06-08-12 03:00 PM
  7. needforbbx's Avatar
    From the front, it looks more like the Pearl to me - just more curves on the back. Not sure if it would make a big diff - the issue really is a dated os.
    06-27-12 08:04 PM
  8. FrankIAm's Avatar
    Looks like 5hi7, name sounds 5hi77y.
    07-07-12 09:28 PM
  9. Thunderbuck's Avatar
    Yeah, this would have been a rather cool Pearl replacement.

    It's stylish, I think it makes a statement. My question would run somewhere along the lines of: "is there a market for something that's too smart to be a feature phone, but not quite smart enough to be a full-fledged smartphone?"

    Maybe there is?
    07-07-12 10:48 PM