RIM Fails to Present BlackBerry as a Compelling Alternative

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-08-04 Print this article Print


5. The specs are poor

Besides the display, the overall specs of the BlackBerry Torch leave much to be desired. The phone boasts just 4GB of internal storage - much less than the iPhone 4's minimum of 16GB of memory - as well as a measly 624MHz processor. Considering most other top smartphones on the market feature a 1GHz processor, RIM is putting itself behind before the Torch even launches. Simply put, there is nothing unique or compelling about the Torch's specs that can't be found elsewhere in a more desirable device.

6. It's running on AT&T

The biggest mistake RIM made was bringing the Torch to AT&T. Although the carrier might have millions of subscribers, it's also the home of the iPhone. And when consumers go to AT&T and look for their next phone, they will be choosing between the iPhone and Torch. Given the fact that both phones are priced the same, and they will cost about the same per month on a two-year plan, the chances of customers choosing RIM's device over Apple's seem slim. The Torch might have been more successful on Verizon at launch.

7. Only the core is in love

RIM's core user base would buy the new BlackBerry no matter what it offered. But the rest of the space won't be so quick to jump on the bandwagon. As mentioned, there are several outstanding options available to consumers today. It's RIM's job to prove that the Torch can provide a better experience than the alternatives. Based on what's known about the Torch right now, RIM hasn't done that. Look for RIM to have some trouble selling the Torch to customers other than those in its core following.

8. The departing customer base

RIM finds itself in a dangerous position. As the market continues to grow, its user base continues to fall victim to Apple's allure. In fact, a recent study from Nielsen found that as much as 50 percent of current BlackBerry owners are planning to switch to either an iPhone or an Android-based device when their contracts are up. RIM's hope with the Torch was to not only compete against the competition, but to make all those future defectors think twice about leaving. It failed. Now, it will be forced to deal with the fallout from its decisions with Torch.

9. It's being marketed as a direct competitor

RIM is doing everything it can to prove to consumers and enterprise customers that the BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry OS 6 are direct competitors to the iPhone and Android-based devices. The company says that its new products are designed specifically to carry the BlackBerry banner forward. But by saying that, RIM is undermining its ability to sell smartphones. If the company says the Torch competes directly with the iPhone and Droid X, customers will believe it. And in that scenario, they will almost certainly opt for one of the alternatives to the BlackBerry. But if RIM says that the Torch is an alternative to the iPhone or Droid X that's not meant to compete directly with those products, the company will have a far better chance of being successful. After all, it will be targeting a different set of consumers with different desires.

10. There is too much to like elsewhere

It doesn't seem that RIM did a good enough job at evaluating market factors before it developed the Torch. The company failed to realize the importance of apps, it misunderstood what consumers are looking for in their next smartphones, and it didn't realize that the competition would deliver more-capable alternatives. By doing so, RIM finds itself in a precarious position. On Monday, prior to the Torch's announcement, the BlackBerry maker had a chance to beat back the iPhone invasion. Just 48 hours later, post-Torch, it's clear that it doesn't have what it takes. There is simply too much to like (and desire) elsewhere. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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