Should RIM Allow BlackBerrys To Run Applications From microSD?

I was just taking a look at the memory specs on the 4 new BlackBerry devices that have come out recently.  The BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry Pearl Flip, BlackBerry Storm, and BlackBerry Curve 8900 all have 128 MB of Flash Memory and 1GB of RAM.  Personally, I would have liked to have seen at least 256 MB of Flash but I can live with 128 MB.

1 GB of RAM, on the other hand,  is definitely kind of light compared to the iPhone which has 4 GB at worst.  RIM trys to counteract this  by shipping the BlackBerry Storm with an 8 GB microSD card, however, you can do little more than store pictures and media on the removable memory in a BlackBerry.  You can’t even store contacts outside of internal memory.

The processing power of the latest generation of BlackBerry devices is pretty good and should allow for some really cool and feature rich applications (games) to run on them.  Really cool and feature rich applications, however, tend to be larger in size and it doesn’t take very many of them to eat up all the free space on your BlackBerry.  This is why I think that RIM should allow BlackBerrys to run applications from microSD.

Now, I know that someone is going to say that to allow application execution from removable media introduces a possible gateway onto RIM’s secure network for hackers.  I believe, however, that that the same was said about bluetooth, tethering, digital cameras, MP3 playback, and the microSD slots from which applications cannot run.

I know that we usually think of Research in Motion has a hardware manufacturer but they are a software company as well.  A software company that specializes in making their hardware very secure.  The fact that RIM controls both the hardware and the software should make solving this security issue easier than it would be for companies that specialize in just one or the other.

In my opinion, one of two things is inevitable…  RIM will either start packing enormous amounts of internal memory into BlackBerry devices to meet the demands of all the cool applications of the future, or, figure out a way to allow application execution from removable memory securely.  Personally, I like option two because it always leaves room for growth as someone like my will always think that whatever memory comes installed is not enough.

Be a leader here RIM.  My guess is that within the next couple of iPhone releases, they will have removable memory and I would be willing to bet that they will allow application execution from them.  If you only follow suite after Apple does it first, you will look like you are reacting to them.  Albeit your method will probably be much more secure, but, to do at after the fact still makes it appear that you were reacting to Apple.

Do it first, however, and make it as safe and secure as you usually do and it may appear that Apple is reacting to you for a change.


  1. All Tingly Inside says

    I’ve only been reading your blog for a short while but I have to say that think this is one of your better posts.

    You hit the nail right on the head when you say that it is inevitable that RIM either bump up the internal memory or do what you suggest here.

    I don’t know if this is where you wanted the conversation to go as you only alluded to this at the end of the post, but the PR ramifications of RIM doing this before Apple would be immense. RIM shouldn’t allow somthing that they can probably do better and more securely than Apple to become an objection because Apple comes out with it first.

  2. Neil Remy says

    I thought that one of the reasons for adding the 8 gig media card was so that you would be able to store your contacts.

    Is this not the case?

  3. JWill says

    You bring up a very good point. If RIM allows Apple to do this first and then they do it it will look like it was in response to Apple.

    Blackberrys already have micro SD slots so this should be something that RIM could come out with before Apple.

  4. DES says

    So is the 1gig of ram at least available for storing apps or are they relegated to be stored in the 128mb of rom? I think the answer is that apps are stored in the 1gig but I’m not to clear on that; this would seem like a decent advancement over the the original pearls/curves that are constantly running out of memory to store apps.

  5. Brian says

    Nope we can only have 128 MB for apps on the Storm. The Bold and Storm have 1GB of internal FLASH memory. But right now the OS can only allocated 128 MB of it. The rest is a lame mountable thumbdrive. RIM must have hit a huge OS technical hurdle. So much that they shipped all their new devices with 1GB of flash locked to only use 128 of it for Apps.

    My guess is they hope to have it fixed by Application Store launch in March. If they don’t they will turn into the laughing stock of the Smartphone market. I own a Storm, and I love it. But this is, in my opinion, the single biggest impending RIM blunder.

    Mark my words. They don’t fix this and open up the 1GB to apps they are in deep doo doo.

    So, yes with a software upgrade it would be possible for RIM’s os to use the full 1gb of flash. The hardware is there. We are waiting for the software. I bet those RIM engineers are running scared to try and fix this memory bug.

    Because let’s be honest people. Not allowing 1GB of the FLASH for Apps is a bug. They need to fix it soon! Or ELSE!

  6. Jeremy says

    WinMo allows you to run apps off of the microSD card. RIM needs to add this functionality in order to stay competitive. Faster phones are great, but it’s useless when the OS and apps all have to run within 128Mb space. It’s like selling someone a Ferrari with a 1 gallan gas tank…

  7. Normarn R. says

    @DES… Yes, this is the case…

    Believe it or not I have a fully functioning Gateway 100 MHz 486DX4 with 128MB of RAM and two 750 MB hard drives running Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

    That was the top of the line back in 96. It is amazing where things have come. 10 or 12 years from now we may be talking about BlackBerrys with 8Gigs of Flash and a terabyte of RAM being under powered.

  8. says

    They’re (RIM) still learning. Come on, guys. It wasn’t too long ago that they came out with their first multimedia targeted BlackBerry. They’re a bit behind but not in the corporate world.

  9. bluehorseshoe says

    While that would be great for most, one of the concerns would be security. The ability to run an application ‘with’ data and is removable would be a concern for many IT managers who have their employees running perhaps confidential information. For the Storm, sure, companies can refrain from rolling out those particular devices to their employees since it’s geared towards the consumer market, but for the Curve let’s say (a popular corporate device), it would be difficult. Perhaps a ‘corporate edition’ BB would solve this issue for those concerned with security.

    I’d like to see more memory so the damn memory leaks don’t render my email gone and cause me to pull the battery every day or so to replenish the volume. Even with the Storm…

  10. bluehorseshoe says

    Thanks Robb, but for myself I run a remote office and site and simply run my BB via BIS. I’m not a fan of the infrastructure set up in my NY office .

  11. Brian says

    Yep… This whole security excuse is a freaking joke! Come on one simple BES policy that states the device can’t use the external memory card for apps. Done! Another BES policy for not allowing contacts, email, etc. on the external memory card… Done!

    Like I said in a previous post. I don’t think this has to do with Security. I think RIM knows this is one of the most mission critical issues to their survival.

    But I think they are backed into a corner. Their OS must be having massive scalability issues. This may be a massive undertaking! Perhaps it’s like the difference between Windows 3.1 and 95… It took them years to overhaul all of Windows Memory management to even make it somewhat usable.

    RIM is probably rushing to rewrite all of the Memory management. It’s clear to me they have intentions. Maybe in my previous post I was not clear enough. The 128 MB of FLASH on the Storm and Bold and the 1GB flash internal memory in those respective devices come from the exact same memory chip. The 128 MB vs the almost 1GB memory allocation is meerly a software setting that they could flip…

    If only… If only they could fix their OS!

    If people remember the Palm OS it took them years to figure out how to over haul their OS to allow programs to run on eternal memory cards.

    As a Software Engineer OS programming is some of the hardest things to debug and work with in the world of SE. I understand how hard it is to rewrite something and still maintain compatibility. The problem is if they can’t do it RIM will fail. It’s about as black and white as it gets.

    RIM will get it done I believe!

  12. JoeS says

    Blackberry 8900 Javelin Curve 2 whatever has 1 gb built in like Bold and Storm but unlike its brother actually allocates 256 mb for OS and Application use. Im told its in the software and an update can allow this on bold and storm

  13. says

    As a recent ex-pat from the Palm world, I was surprised at the BB’s lack of functionality. My old Clie NX80-V has a 3P app called Powerun that lets you run apps from the mem stick, making the number of apps on the device limitless. The problem? My Clie is 6 yrs old! RIM cdn’t figure this out in all this time? Thought Aerize Cardloader wd do it, but no.And that “browser” – “requesting scripts” isn’t browsing. Yes I also use Opera Mini. I have an 8830. What’s the pt of an app mktplace if the device can’t store/use them? I’ve already triaged some apps I liked bec of limitations.
    There IS lots to like about the BB; I just thought there wd be more to it. Great site, Robb – a real svc to those of us new to the game.

  14. says

    Yeah, I’m new to the BB game and loving my Storm and SureType. It’s great after you master–takes a couple of weeks I’d say.

    I’m disappointed at lack of apps and memory though that I thought was the norm after having been with palm for so long. I’d put all my new apps on my memory card knowing there was no limit….



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