Mobile
Commentary
8/18/2010
12:04 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Is The Blackberry Torch Flaming Out?

After being on the market for less than a week, the RIM's new flagship device, the Blackberry Torch with the new 6.0 OS is being discounted, heavily. It came out of the gates at $199 plus contract and is now available for half of that. The combination of less than stellar sales and mixed review are surely to blame.

After being on the market for less than a week, the RIM's new flagship device, the Blackberry Torch with the new 6.0 OS is being discounted, heavily. It came out of the gates at $199 plus contract and is now available for half of that. The combination of less than stellar sales and mixed review are surely to blame.On paper, the Blackberry Torch 9800 looks decent enough. It has a real touch screen now and at 3.2 inches is slightly smaller than the iPhone's 3.5 inch display. It also has a real QWERTY keyboard that slides out à la the Palm Pre. The biggest complaint from a hardware perspective I've heard is the comparatively anemic 624MHz processor in a world filled with 1GHz machines. As I speculated a month ago, the only thing the new 6.0 operating system will do is keep the Blackberry faithful happy. There will be few converts from smartphone powerhouses like the iPhone or Android.

Slashgear is reporting that two different analysts are estimating that the Torch only sold 150,000 devices in its first weekend. I think the iPhone sold that many in its first day for sale before the store keepers were able to get both of the front doors propped open. Similarly, Verizon and other carriers are having trouble keeping devices like the Droid X and Droid Incredible on the shelves due to high consumer demand. Worldwide, there are 200,000 activations of Android phones per day, launch weekend or not. No wonder the Torch launch is being described as "underwhelming" by Goldman Sachs.

If the Torch is your cup of tea, head over to Amazon to pick one up. It is $99.99 with a two year plan on AT&T's network. Currently, AT&T's online site still shows $199.99, but I cannot believe they will hold it there for long.

Microsoft finally decided that Windows Mobile, having roots in 1996 architecture needed a full reboot. It remains to be seen if Windows Phone 7 will be successful, but it was clear a new generation of Windows Mobile wasn't going to cut it. RIM has to be thinking the same thing about its Blackberry platform. It is at least a decade old. It is time to start over to compete with modern smartphones head to head. In the last year, the DOW Jones Industrials and NASDAQ are both up around 13%. RIM is down 30% in the same time period. You cannot grow by simply keeping current customers happy. The stock market has recognized that. Do you think there is any hardware RIM can release with Blackberry 6.0 that will spur growth, or should we just prepare for flat sales at best until RIM does a full reboot?

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