Verizon Wireless may be planning to discontinue sales of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Storm, according to rumors from multiple media sources.
TheStreet.com first reported Feb. 22 that investors and analysts were speculating about a report that said orders for the Storm may be cut or cancelled – though the author of the report, or which research firm it came from, are unknown.
While some reviewers have liked the Storm well enough, others have been less enthusiastic. In The New York Times, reviewer David Pogue wrote that using the Storm wasn’t “just an exercise in frustration – it’s a marathon in frustration.”
As far back as January 2009, there was talk of the Storm’s disappointingly slow sales, and during Verizon Wireless’ fourth-quarter 2008 earnings call, the company played up the device that it had launched that November, saying that “customers across the country lined up” to purchase the Storm, though it side-stepped any firm sales numbers.
Michael Gordon, a member of the Verizon Wireless Customer Council, a focus group run by Verizon’s public relations firm, said at the time that he found the Storm “bug-ridden,” and that Verizon likely didn’t mention sales numbers, because then it also would have had to talk about return rates, “and that wouldn’t have been good,” said Gordon.
Verizon Wireless is said to be RIM’s largest customer for the Storm. On Dec. 17, RIM announced fiscal third-quarter 2010 revenue of $3.92 billion, which was up from $2.78 billion a year earlier.
Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said it’s extremely difficult to comment on an unsubstantiated rumor, but that tracing the remarks back to TheStreet, they appear to refer to the original Storm, introduced nearly 18 months ago, and not to the newer Storm 2.
“If so, it would make complete sense that the original Storm is being discontinued since it is outdated,” Hyers told eWEEK. “If Verizon is phasing out the first Storm, than I would see this as part of the normal life-cycle of a handset. It’s quite possible that the initial sources of the rumor have incorrectly assumed that comments about the original Storm refer to both devices.”
Hyers went on to say that the Storm’s operating system, and App World, are gaining momentum – despite RIM’s app store following far behind those of Apple and Google. Additionally, while Apple, and to a lesser degree Google, with Android, have lead in innovation, Hyers said RIM has done a poor job of breaking out of its corporate, e-mail-centric niche.
“However, [BlackBerry] remains a very popular device with business and professional users, and the Storm 2 has helped to expand the base of [RIM] customers,” Hyers continued. “I believe the Storm fills a useful gap in Verizon’s portfolio, and I would be really surprised if Verizon were to abandon the entire Storm line. I suspect that the rumor that it is doing so is incorrect.”
The Street reports that neither Verizon Wireless nor RIM would answer questions regarding the Storm’s fate on the network.