RIM reportedly preps QNX phone for first quarter: More pain ahead of gain?

RIM's QNX-based superphone appears to be on track for the first quarter of 2012. Will that news just freeze sales of BlackBerry 7 phones?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Research in Motion is reportedly prepping its first QNX device for the first quarter, but this savior phone may just cause more short-term pain.

The Boy Genius Report reported that a QNX device code-named Colt is set for the first quarter pending tests. There are a few compromises---notably a lack of support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server---to get the phone launched on time.

What's odd about the timeline here is that this QNX phone is coming in the first quarter. RIM has dubbed QNX devices as superphone and touted them as something that can propel the company into the next decade.

Last week, RIM unveiled its BlackBerry 7 line-up, which looks promising on first glance but has a short product window. The question for prosumers has been the same for months: Why would you buy a BlackBerry 7 today with a QNX device coming in just a few months?

Gallery: The first BlackBerry 7 OS handsets (photos)

Despite all of the talk from RIM about its biggest product launch ever the answer to that tricky question has never been answered. Leaking details about a QNX phone in the first quarter will only delay sales of BlackBerry 7 devices. RIM needs those devices to be a hit---even if they are just a bridge to something better.

Add it up and RIM is in quite a bind. The choices are:

  1. Push QNX devices ahead quickly and jeopardize BlackBerry 7 sales.
  2. Launch QNX devices in the second half of 2012 and pray the bridge BlackBerry 7 devices sell.
Either way, RIM may have to take its lumps. Analysts aren't exactly inspired by RIM these days. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek cut his estimates for RIM's upcoming quarter because new BlackBerry 7 devices aren't likely to sell well. Misek wrote:

AT&T and RIM announced the launch of the Torch 2 in August followed by the Storm 3 (renamed the "all-touch Torch") later this year. In the Nov. quarter, we expect other carriers to announce their own versions, which could also include a new Curve and potentially a Curve Touch. Preliminary reviews of the handsets cite improved speed but a browsing experience still inferior to Android and iOS. We do not believe carriers will put extensive marketing dollars behind the new handsets.

We continue to believe the (RIM) story hinges on QNX, which we believe will be delayed to the second half of 2012 vs. guidance of early 2012.


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