Business people can be hip too. That appears to be the message from Research in Motion and its motives behind its new BlackBerry Bold smartphone. There's definitely a hint of some iPhone envy here, but the device isn't a direct competitor.
From the statement (Matthew Miller's take, Techmeme):
Crafted from premium materials, inside and out, that radiate elegance with a dramatic presence, the BlackBerry Bold is designed to give business professionals and power users unprecedented functionality and performance in an intuitive BlackBerry smartphone. It is the first BlackBerry smartphone to support tri-band HSDPA high-speed networks around the world and comes with integrated GPS and Wi-Fi, as well as a rich set of multimedia capabilities. From its lustrous black exterior, satin chrome finished frame and stylish leather-like backplate, to its stunning display, sophisticated user interface and newly designed full-QWERTY keyboard, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone is a symbol of accomplishment and aspiration.
Accomplishment? Aspiration? What happened to that corporate workhorse pitch and all of those security features?
Also see: RIM’s Balsillie: ‘Not religious’ about form factors; B2B the company’s core
The Bold is clearly targeting the corporate type that wants to look a little trendy. The Bold is "business-grade" but is also targeted at the prosumer. As Jim Balsillie said last week you can't move corporate devices without the consumer channel.
“Apple is obviously leveraging its B2C play, but we’ve found in wireless that B2B (smartphones) sell through B2C channels. You need B2C to sell B2B. And you have to have both. We view it as a channel play through carriers. Ninety percent of the work you do in B2B works for B2C.”
RIM clearly tips its hat to the iPhone with the Bold. It notes that it has a stunning display, desktop-style Web pages (quickly becoming prerequisite these days), multimedia features and hooks into WiFi and GPS. Details were scant about pricing other than the Bold will be available this summer.
Another key front for RIM is applications. RIM doesn't do its own apps. While that fact theoretically can make RIM a good partner for software companies like SAP it also leaves the company at the mercy of developers. If they don't show, RIM can fall behind. To that end, RIM is launching a $150 million venture capital fund with Thomson Reuters and RBC. The BlackBerry Partners Fund is "agnostic to both stage and balance sheet" and "will not restrict the development of mobile applications and services to any single mobile platform or any specific industry segment."