Blackberry Aims For the KIN Generation, But Is It Too Late?

Want to know why Blackberry launches are so exciting to so many? Because it means those chained to RIM because of their IT departments dependence on Blackberry mail services will get new phones. So what is this inexplicable Blackberry Torch and what does it mean for the brave folks in RIMs Canadian mountain fortress? First off, office drones, don’t expect to get the Torch with all its security breaching social media razzmatazz. You’ll probably get a toned down version with much of the functionality locked down. That’s the first problem.

The second problem, as Matt noted before, RIM isn’t very good at consumer grade products. While I’ll agree that Blackberries are, bar none, the best email devices out there, they have all the sexiness of a road accident.

However, like a chevalier idly tilting at windmills on the Spanish plain, RIM is showing its age. Its OS 6 just got all of the social media features that most Android phones already have and it just got Universal Search which, if you’re familiar with a certain phone that starts with i and rhymes with “I Own,” is fairly old hat by now. To paraphrase Ferris, “The phone industry moves pretty fast. If you don’t release updates very regularly, you might miss it.”

I understand RIM’s problem: if they release a new OS, companies have to reinvest in new infrastructure and training. That’s why many of those with fleet Blackberries will still be running 5.x until the end of time or run a locked down version of 6.0 without the social media detritus.

But RIM has another problem: Android. Android will eat RIM’s lunch and dinner when it finally gains traction in IT departments. Note I said “when,” not “if.” That leaves the consumer market at which the Torch is squarely aimed.

But kids don’t want Blackberries. They want cheap phones that run instant messaging, SMS, and email. Need a keyboard? Get a MyTouch Slide. Want a big screen? Maybe an EVO 4G.

Microsoft is in the same boat. They’ve been making business phones for so long they filled their pants when they released the KIN and pulled it immediately. They knew they couldn’t compete in a marketplace of cheap, jazzy phones.

I’m here to tell you I love the Blackberry. It’s a great platform. But I worry they are slowly flowing into irrelevancy like Nokia. The Torch is a nice shot in the arm but if sales figures don’t back up the OS 6 investment, we could be reading bad things about RIM in the next few years.