Burning Torch or Damp Squib

With a reported 150,000 units sold in the first week, and a nearly instant price cut, the Blackberry Torch doesn’t appear to have met RIM’s expectations.  But I’m unsure how it could have been any other way.

To start with, 150,000 units is a good opening figure for any company with the single exception of Apple.  Compare it with the HTC Evo 4G and Palm Pre, both of which sold in broadly similar numbers.  Frankly, this tells me that at any one time, there are only about 150,000 people ready to upgrade.

 Secondly, while I know plenty of people who have work-supplied Blackberries, I know of only one friend who has one as a personal phone.  Thirdly, companies tend to purchase in batches and rarely upgrade to the latest phone just because it’s out.  Consequently, I think 150,000 units for business-orientated (smart)phone are good opening figures.

RIM with the Blackberry brand has something that no other phone really has – its association with business.  If you have a Blackberry, it says you are serious about business.  Obviously, RIM has to defend its territory and often the best form of attack is defence, but it’s too easy to get into Apple-beating mode when faced with the iPhone threat.

There’s no doubt that the battle lines are drawn between Apple, RIM and Android.  All are vying for the top spot but RIM has the corporate foundation to push out from.  With Microsoft down and out at the moment, RIM should be locking down the business market tight.  The Torch is a great phone for that as it’s generally considered to be the best Blackberry ever from the reviews, even if it’s not quite up to Android, iOS and WebOS standard.

RIM needs to forget about the opening numbers game and go for the long-term.