Research in Motion reported 2nd quarter fiscal 2011 results yesterday, and, although many of RIM’s numbers were positive, several beating the street, the one that many will be looking at this morning, subscriber growth, missed for the second quarter in a row. RIM added 4.5 million net new subscribers… The street was expecting 4.9 to 5.2 million subscribers.
I believe that a big reason for that miss was underwhelming performance of RIM’s new flagship BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Torch 9800. RIM may tell you that the BlackBerry Torch has been the “most successful GSM BlackBerry launch in company history, but clearly, that wasn’t hard to be because the the Torch hasn’t sold nearly like RIM hoped it might. The big knock on the Torch is that it is underpowered… Slow processor, low resolution display, seems like a 3-year old device compared to it’s competitors, etc…
I think that this must of really be weighing on RIM co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, because when RBC analyst Mike Abramsky, who basically asked RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie how the BlackBerry is going to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google, who have beat RIM (like a red-headed step child) in design and high-end phone specifications, he goes off on this epic rant…
There’s such an interesting dynamic going on in the market because first of all, when you talk about platform and design and future aspects, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at DevCon in a week Monday. I can’t really give you too much here but I think you’re going to be really interested there. More aspects of the design philosophy are going to come out there.
I think in terms of what BlackBerry does, you know, it still has a tremendous number of attributes that really serve the market in the way that we align it for the service and for the carrier and for the segment that it’s supposed to address. And I think it’s dangerous to frame all this in a high-end arms race. And I think you’re going to see our capacity to go beyond what could have been expected by anyone and yet still address the issues of cost effectiveness, security, efficiency, and desired form factors.
Our specialty’s been in resolving a paradox, and if you don’t innovate to resolve that paradox… You know, robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t really a solution because you’re just shifting strategies. The feature phones upgrading to a smartphone, I think our guidance just shows what’s happening. And if you saw the roadmap and you saw the engagement strategies you would see that we are being very prudent in our approaches.
But this is a really promising space, and we can address lots of segments. And we can still respect carrier alignment and efficiency, and different price points.
But, I think you’re going to see the ability to, I don’t know how to say it better, than other than “resolve the paradox.” Because if you make these things so high-end that they’re not addressable to the market, or they’re so consumptive of the networks they can’t scale, that’s not what we originally designed our business for.
And what we’ve done is innovate to really avail the capability but still not sell out our lineage, and that’s the paradox that we’re resolving. But be careful that just because you don’t jump to Peter and abandon Paul, to sort of carry on with that sort of approach, that we don’t have an answer. We’re trying to innovate, forward our business, not be strategically erratic.
The core BlackBerry aspects are well defended and looked after and protected. But it’s in a space where people have mushrooming expectations of what these things can do. And that’s the essence of the paradox. And all I can say is it won’t take long before you see how we’ve done that. And I think Torch and BlackBerry 6 is really an excellent step forward.
The promo campaigns are just really starting. But that’s why you’ve seen the jump in guidance… and the subs is that. I hope I answered your question. It’s hard for me to answer it too directly without sort-of violating confidential roadmap stuff.
I all know is that consumers aren’t buying your high end devices because, well, they aren’t high end. Not only that, long time BlackBerry users, like myself, are looking to other platforms because we can’t get what we want from you. If you think that you have to rob Peter to pay Paul, trading battery life for faster processors and bigger, brighter screens, then, you seriously need to walk into an AT&T, Sprint, or, heaven forbid a Verizon store so you can see just how well your competition is doing.
Peter and Paul aren’t who you need to be worried about because Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John are taking you to the cleaners.