RIM is facing more pressure than ever in the mobile market. When it first started competing in the space, it had one major platform to worry about: Windows Mobile.
Today, Windows Mobile is on the decline, but Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems are proving to be extremely difficult for RIM to handle. In fact, the company is being forced to develop solutions that match the iPhone or Android-based devices, rather than set its own standard.
On Tuesday, RIM revealed its latest mobile products. The company showed off BlackBerry OS 6, the highly anticipated follow-up to BlackBerry OS 5. But it was the BlackBerry Torch, the latest smartphone from the Canada-based company that stole the show. The device features a slide-out physical keyboard and will run BlackBerry OS 6 when it's released on August 12 for $199 on AT&T's network. During the announcement, RIM tried to paint the Torch as the device that will increase its user base and effectively take on the iPhone and Android-based devices.
But it was wrong. The Torch doesn't have what it takes to steal Android and iPhone users away.
1. It's not leading on price
RIM's BlackBerry Torch will retail for $199 when the phone is released next week. That's not a good thing. The Torch shouldn't have the same price as the iPhone 4. In the mobile market, consumers either want the phone that will give them the most for their tight budget, or the device boasting the most features. The BlackBerry Torch offers neither. Its features can't match the competition's and it's price is equal to the iPhone 4. Realizing that, why would the average consumer looking for their first smartphone pick the Torch over an iPhone? RIM certainly doesn't have the answer.
2. A physical keyboard - Really?
If RIM wants to be the chief competitor to Apple and Google, the company needs to stop relying on slide-out keyboards to get the job done. Enterprise customers might want the physical keys and some folks can't work well on a virtual keyboard, but touch screens are the new must-have in "next-gen" phones. The physical keyboard didn't help the Palm Pre or even the Motorola Droid against the iPhone; the Torch won't be any different.
3. BlackBerry OS 6 doesn't have it
Blackberry OS 6 is admittedly a fine upgrade compared to the previous iteration of the software. But after seeing what RIM has planned for the OS, it's clear now that it lacks the features that will make consumers want a BlackBerry over anything running iOS or Android. The software is too similar to BlackBerry OS 5. The new options, including contextual menus, make it abundantly clear to consumers that RIM's software design is still light years behind the competition.
4. The display is a major issueWhen RIM unveiled the Torch and said that the device features a 3.2-inch display with 480 by 360 resolution, most consumers tuned out. If nothing else, Apple has shown that a display means the difference between success and failure in the market. The iPhone 4, for example, boasts a 3.5-inch Retina display, which easily bests RIM's alternative both in size and quality. The Motorola Droid X, one of the most popular Android-based phones ever released, features a huge 4.3-inch screen. There is nothing so unique in RIM's display that would make consumers immediately want the Torch. That's not a good thing.