RIM's Flickering Torch Should Signal Defeat For The "Consumer-Grade" Blackberry

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In Zork, when your torch goes out you’re eaten by a grue. In real life, when your Torch phone is a flop – about 150,000 sold opening weekend and not many more sold over the week it’s been out – you could be eaten by your competitors.

As I said before, the hard-core Blackberry audience cares about the much-ballyhooed features of the Torch – namely social media connectivity and add-on functions already available on other phones – about as much as they care about Arcade Fire. The Blackberry is a business tool and each time RIM has tried to push it into hipster and soccer mom territory, they’ve failed. The perception is that Blackberry is the go-to phone for email. If you need anything else, there are plenty of other phones out there much more competitive.

Why should we write the Torch’s obituary right now? First, it recieved bad reviews left and right and Amazon cut the Torch’s price in half on launch to $100 with two year contract. The last phone that got a price cut so quickly was probably the KIN, and we all know how that turned out.

Again, the RIM knows what they’re doing when it comes to fleet distribution of hardware. They can run with the bulls in the business arena and I would say they’re the single most successful business phone manufacturer on the market. But, as we all know, wearing wingtips and black socks with shorts and a t-shirt doesn’t make you a skater any more than adding Exchange support makes you popular with the IT crowd. These are two incompatible markets and RIM is far too entrenched to break free.

While I don’t want to discourage change, I just don’t think RIM can pull off such a drastic turnabout into the consumer market. While phones like the Pearl and the Curve are popular with many non-CEOs, the consumers buying those phones are using them for email and BBM – not connecting to Facebook and chilling with Plants vs. Zombies. Things need to change at RIM before they can have a consumer-grade hit.

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