RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

Summary: RIM will go from famine to feast with new product launches. However, RIM will now have BlackBerry OS 7 devices dangerously close to QNX superphones.

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Research in Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis had a lot of explaining to do following a dreadful first quarter and even worse second quarter outlook.

The good news for RIM is that it actually has a timeline for its latest BlackBerry OS 7 devices---late August. Yes, that means new BlackBerries won't save the second quarter and will be no-shows for back-to-school sales, but there's some light at the end of RIM's product void.

Lazaridis said:

We were already well down a development path for the next-generation BlackBerry handset when we realized that in the US the features and performance arms race demanded that we upgrade the chipset and port BlackBerry to a higher performance platform. This was an engineering change that affected hardware and software time lines and pushed out entry into carrier certification labs. There are always uncertainties in product development. However, we did not expect the extra challenges this presented to carrier lab entry with the new platform. We are now in 31 certification programs with 23 carriers in the US and around the world, and we should start seeing technical acceptances beginning this summer with shipments beginning near the end of the quarter. The end result of this platform change was worth it, and we now have a platform that is the same across all of our high-end BlackBerry 7 products. And I believe it is the highest-quality BlackBerry we have ever entered into carrier labs. Because these products are almost all the same platform, once the first product is certified with one carrier, we can leverage this to accelerate certification of the others. This now enables the largest global launch of BlackBerry products in our history and allows us to roll out a rapid succession of launches over the next several months. I would have liked nothing more than to get these BlackBerry 7 handsets out sooner; and, believe me, we did everything we could to make that happen. But when customers experience the quality, consistency and upgraded user experience we have achieved in these new products, you will understand why it was worth the wait.

Lazaridis went on to say that he was confident about the new BlackBerry devices and the platform they were built on. The big issues: These new devices will have a short shelf life because RIM executives maintained that QNX superphones are on time for early 2012. QNX is the OS that powers the PlayBook.

The good news for RIM is that it will have a barrage of devices on deck. The bad news is that these new devices may crowd out each other.

The cadence goes like this:

  • BlackBerry OS 7 devices in late August/September;
  • 4G PlayBooks land in the Fall;
  • QNX devices in early 2012.

Those products could have been spaced out a bit better, but RIM doesn't have the luxury of predictable timing. Meanwhile, the RIM product barrage could be positive in a vacuum. However, these new BlackBerry devices will face Apple's iPhone 5 and a slew of 4G Android devices. Lazaridis continued:

Many of you asked why we didn't move to QNX on BlackBerry handsets immediately. There are a number of reasons why this wasn't a feasible alternative. First of all, a hard cutover between platforms at this time would have meant abandoning our strong and loyal BlackBerry developer community. It also would have been near impossible to deliver a multicore QNX smartphone this year, given the dual core baseband processors are only just becoming available. It would also have been unrealistic to try to build a whole new tablet platform and to port BlackBerry to that platform at the same time. To take that path would have left RIM with a product void for most of 2012, which was unacceptable, and so we took the approach that we did.

Lazaridis was later asked whether it made sense to bring QNX devices just a few months after the BlackBerry 7.0 wave. He said that the BlackBerry 7.0 devices will be messaging devices that will be lower costs than high-end QNX tools.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Mobile OS, BlackBerry

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39 comments
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  • These clowns blamed everyone but themselves

    I listened in on the call but didn't hear the words "We Blew It" when these two were explaining how they were late to market.

    Essentially they passed the major lateness of their products as "their people were working as fast as they could" on updates.

    Did nobody notice that the BlackBerry product line is basically famous for releasing the same essential technology in the same packaging (slightly tweaked) year after year.

    What I heard is basically BlackBerry 7 is the low end solution. I expect to see $99 BlackBerry devices on prepaid providers soon flood the market (Virgin Mobile has already gotten the price down to $129 in some Walmart sales).

    Sadly BlackBerry is going to have little to offer except we're cheaper and " we have a better battery life".

    Weird that RIM and the Co-CEO still seem to view Push Email as some secret that the rest of the technology world hasn't figured out how to duplicate as quickly.... when in fact this "feature" has long since become passe with technology buyers. RIM just blew it.
    anerpvar
    • This is perhaps excessively dismissive of push email

      @mas90guru Email still rules the enterprise. And no, nobody else is doing it as conservatively on bandwidth and richly on security as RIM has. Whatever else may be wrong at RIM, they've never been wrong to claim a strong hand in this area.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Conservative on Bandwidth? RIM! Really??

        @rbethell you comment on how RIM are conservative on Bandwidth. Well I can show you call data from several UK users and it shows WAP charges. I've looked into this and all data from RIM and 3rd party apps goes out via WAP or TCP and never uses the RIM APN. So the data they transmit is not compressed and is no different if you were using the same apps on Android or iOS
        Dr.Deep
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @rbethell
        Have you used an iPhone lately with exchange???
        Hasam1991
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @Dr.Deep

        Right. But we are talking above about push email. No idea where all this WAP or app stuff came from, which as a BlackBerry-knowledgeable developer I'm well aware of (you have to carefully choose your protocols when doing network calls, as the BB has dozens of ways to do it.)
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @rbethell
        WAP is charged by your carrier and not by RIM. Blame goes to the app developer that didn't build the BIS certification path. Check Opera mini browser for Blackberry and you'll see.
        SinfoCOMAR
        • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

          @SinfoCOMAR
          sry @rbethell reply was meant for Dr.Deep on "Conservative on Bandwidth? RIM! Really??"
          SinfoCOMAR
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @Dr.Deep
        ... with a Blackberry you can actually tell the carrier to disable WAP (or anything you dont want to be charged for). Try that with an iPhone and see if you can still work.
        I haven't had a WAP charge for years!
        SinfoCOMAR
    • This is exactly what is expected from RIM

      @mas90guru The truth is they've never been particularly innovative.

      I don't want to sound chauvenist, but I really don't believe Canadian companies are capable of extreme and fast innovation the way American companies are. I say that as someone who loves Canada.

      They have smarter health care, better education, a fantastic manufacturing base. But they have never been good at quick and smart technical innovation.
      HollywoodDog
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @HollywoodDog

        I don't think it's anything to do with being Canadian, I think it's entirely to do with RIM. They have two CEO's, so instantly there's an inefficiency in decision making at the very top and I'm guessing that goes all the way down the company. The fact they're making people redundant to get things out faster implies that may be the case.

        (I'm not Canadian btw, I'm from London just living here for the time being)
        OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @HollywoodDog <br>I use to work for a company that builds video mixers, the kind used for television broadcast. The company was and still is Canadian. I can tell you, in that industry, the only serious competitors were the Japanese (Sony). The US had ceased being innovative for a very long time.<br><br>What I also learned there was that innovation is driven by management. The company was founded by a man who owns roughly half of the patents on analog television. His son worked on the "factory" floor, coding control panels in assembly language. Eventually the son became the VP of R&D. He was both a pain and a joy to work for. He dreamed big and amazing innovations. Throw an innovative idea at him and the usual response was "how soon can you have it done?" We easily out-innovated everyone. Some of us burned out in the process.<br><br>The problem is that people like that are few and far between. The US has more people than Canada and so has numerically more of them than Canada. I think if you look at it on a per capita basis, you'll find that Canada actually has more innovators, most of them smaller innovators. Even so, the number is still dwarfed by the numerical superiority of the US.
        mheartwood
      • Oh really?

        @HollywoodDog Please explain then why all those American companies are in a snarling fight for all of Nortel's intellectual property and patents?

        Or how your Gemini space program was largely designed by Avro engineers from Canada?
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

        @HollywoodDog

        "....never been good at quick and smart technical innovation". Are you for real? RIM created this market. B/c Apple has the 1 phone fits all approach and has done some clever marketing doesn't mean they have superior innovation. Give me a break. APPLE got onto a good skid. Remember when they got rid of Steve Jobs when Apple was doing so well. By the way I have 6 Apple iMacs and 3 Macbook Pro's at our office so I'm not an Apple hater. RIM created this area of expertise and still do it best. They have all the different phones and platforms b/c at the time, they took care of all the carriers so they developed the reach. It's a new time now and they're consolidating their expertise into QNX. B/c they're late to the game doesn't mean they're out. And by the way, google search R & D dollars for both APPLE and RIM, they're the same in real $, however Apple is 10 times the size. QNX was the best thing they ever did. With $3B in Cash and plenty of investment into their future, if I were you, I'd buy stock while it's cheap. I'm contemplating. Also, if you read the article, it says that they're transitioning from BB os to QNX as the future. QNX runs power company's so I think it's stable.
        Clawdawg
    • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

      @mas90guru - BlackBerry has amazed me with their lack of progress, even up to the point that I recently purchased a Nexus S, after having used the 'Berry for nearly 15 years. I'm tired of seeing the same old device, year after year. I shared more in my review for Law Technology News:
      http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2011/05/samsung-nexus-s-blackberry-replacement.html
      litigationtech
    • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

      @mas90guru

      I've long said what I like about Blackberry and what I hate. Summarised: WEB on most is rubbish and pointless - but the Torch is great. Battery life IS important and is superb. Far too many models - settle ona few and stop annoying users.

      I love my Torch and thoroughly recomend it for BES/work. I have an iphone that lasts a day between charges but only if I switch bluetooth and 3G off... thats completely useless to me, and the corporate email secure app is a pain. Who wants to input passwords all day?

      That said I've seen the 9780; a 9700 with updated UI. Personally speaking its the same gadget and has the same failings. The Internet is completely pointless on the tiny screen and the UI is worse than before. Its the same as my torch essentially, except mine is touchscreen and makes sense!

      RIM - Get a grip and drop the junk. One mainstream model is enough, plus a higher model. Drop all the 8520, 8900, 9700 lines and sel one phone. That and a Torch is all the choice I need unless theres some other form factor that might make sense.

      Apple are doing it right with one model, and evolving it. Whilst it's battery life is bad, and has no physical keyboard I reckon RIM are still in there (you try using a virtul keyboard in the back of a taxi... not good my friend)
      johnmckay
  • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

    OS 6 is barely crawling and 7 is on the way...I think this tells you the state of play at RIM. They have to play catch-up on all fronts cause the one trick pony is no longer exclusive.
    hechizero
    • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

      @hechizero 7 is realy 6.1. It's a marketing thing.
      Johnpford
    • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

      @hechizero
      OS6 has been around for a almost a year now. Aka "old" in OS time :)

      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/blackberry-os-60-release-date-q3-2010/33683
      SinfoCOMAR
  • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

    I'm due to end my contract and i doubt i'll get another BB. The line up is stale against competitors + the OS is limited vis-a-vie competitors.

    Can't the clever clogs at RIM mix in the android app market? RIM should make its strength stronger (enterprise class communications, battery life, build quality) and ditch its in house weaknesses (app market, adopt android market, clunky OS).

    play to your strengths and don't spend sp much effort on your weaknesses, when others do it better and you can partner up.
    dharminder1
    • RE: RIM's conundrum: Convincing you to buy a BlackBerry 7.0 device?

      @dharminder1 Thats a interesting concept, one that I haven't thought about. One of the ideas I had was also getting totally into the implementation and management of devices. So they could manage "I" devices, Symbian, Android, etc. That way they keep their toes in the water for corporate users. Whats wild is seeing the pressure in our company to abandon Blackberry's(Fortunately thats not my group). But if they don't pull off something quick, corporations will make a mass exodus to Android and iOS devices.
      Johnpford