Research In Motion on Aug. 3 announced five new BlackBerry smartphones that the company says, are vast improvements over their predecessors. The devices, which include two BlackBerry Bold models and three versions of the company’s BlackBerry Torch, all run BlackBerry 7 OS. According to RIM, browsing the Web on BlackBerry 7 is 40 percent faster than on BlackBerry 6 and up to 100 percent faster on BlackBerry 5.
As nice as that might be for those who are long-time fans of RIM and the BlackBerry, aside from the performance improvements, there isn’t much the company will be offering in the new smartphones that will make the average customer think twice about buying an iPhone or Android-based handset. In fact, the latest generation of BlackBerry smartphones seems rather boring. In a marketplace where innovation and neat new features grab attention, being boring doesn’t bode well for RIM’s sales figures.
Read on to find out why the latest slate of BlackBerry smartphones, as solidly designed as they may be, will fail miserably.
1. What’s the difference?
When one examines the five new BlackBerry smartphones RIM is planning to launch, they will find a set of devices that don’t break any new ground. The smartphones come with physical keyboards, comparatively small screens and an operating system that has the same feel as previous versions of the software. If RIM is having trouble with sales of existing smartphones, why would it offer up products that are hardly any different? It doesn’t make much sense.
2. BlackBerry 7 doesn’t work out so well
There’s little debating that the BlackBerry 7 OS is a better version of RIM’s software than the previous options. However, it’s still not Android or iOS. The operating system simply isn’t as well-designed or as forward-thinking as its top competitors. Consumers looking to have the best experience will quickly discover that. BlackBerry 7 is nice, but it’s no iOS or Android killer.
3. RIM forgets about the iPhone’s features
Against its better judgment, RIM continues to offer up products that fly in the face of what the iPhone is all about. Like it or not, Apple’s smartphone is the benchmark by which all other handsets are judged. And the onus is on RIM to try and match that. But the handset maker didn’t do anything of the sort. Instead, it stuck to its game plan andthat game plan is failing miserably.
4. The physical keyboard is a loser
RIM seems to believe that customers will want a physical keyboard. So these devices come with the typical physical keys current customers have come to expect. However, these days, consumers are favoring smartphones with virtual keyboards. That’s why the top handset makers in the business aren’t wasting their time on physical keys. With their tired, old physical keyboards,RIM’s latest line of devices smack of obsolescence.
Tired Designs Are Turning Off Consumers
5. Consumers are driving sales
The biggest issue for RIM is that its latest and greatest smartphones appeal more to enterprise users. But as recent changes in the mobile space have shown, it’s the consumer that is driving sales today. Apple’s iPhone is easily besting all other handsets-which forces competing vendors to try to come up with something to match it. In the IT world today, consumerization continues to take hold. Nowadays, consumers are determining which devices succeed, and that’s not a good thing for RIM.
6. The timing is off
One of the biggest problems with RIM’s latest slate of smartphones is that they’re launching at the wrong time of the year. Later this month, the devices will start launching, which means they’ll likely come out just a few weeks to a little over a month before Apple’s iPhone 5. That device is expected to launch anywhere between mid-September to late October. Once it does, it will have a dramatically negative effect on RIM’s BlackBerry sales. RIM’s latest handsets would have performedmuch better if they had been released last month.
7. Consumers don’t like their predecessors
History tends to be consumers’ guide when they buy a new smartphone. When it comes to consumers, there isn’t much to like about RIM’s recent market history. As mentioned, the company’s products have proven rather “old school,” and this latest lineup is no different. RIM had an opportunity to show consumers a new side of its operation with these devices, but instead, it showed them the same old thing.
8. The corporate world is changing
As mentioned above, consumerization of IT is changing which smartphones are being used in the corporate world. But it’s worth noting that IT preferences have changed, as well. Gone are the days when IT decision makers would only authorize purchases of BlackBerry devices for corporate use. Nowadays, they’re open to using the iPhone and would even try out Android-based offerings, like the Motorola Droid Pro. That’s bad news for RIM, and it could have a profound impact on sales of its latest smartphones.
9. RIM is forcing the customer’s hand
When it comes to marketing products, companies typically employ a “push” or a “pull” strategy. In the mobile market, Apple uses the “push” option by delivering iPhones with new features that reflect innovative thinking. These new features compel customers to look at them and more often than not, to decide to buy. Every other handset maker is using a “pull” strategy by giving customers what they want and luring them in. RIM, however, is trying to play Apple’s “push” game, but by thrusting tired designs that reflect old thinking onto users. That doesn’t work, and it will come back to haunt RIM.
10. Developers don’t really care
In the mobile space, developers are becoming increasingly important to the vitality of an operating system. Unfortunately for RIM, however, many of those developers have ignored its operating system and gone to iOS and Android. RIM’s latest five smartphones could have changed the company’s luck with smartphone buyers had they been innovative. But they’re not. In fact, they’re just more of the same. And for developers, more of the same means RIM still isn’t ready for their attention.