By the time the ThunderBolt makes it to shelves, will people even want it anymore?
Recent rumors of the ThunderBolt have taken us all on one large, emotional roller coaster ride. At the very beginning, the ThunderBolt was better known as the Incredible HD. There was a series of rumors specifically about the specifications that the device would have. Not only that, but HTC was covertly growing hype for the device and being rather cryptic about it. This led us to believe it was something worth getting excited over. Many of us – thinking that the ThunderBolt would land with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and other impressive specs – were already determined that this was the next “phone to buy.”
In actuality, when HTC and Verizon finally made the device official at CES, we learned that it was just a rehashed version of the EVO 4G with a little more internal memory and different display technology (same resolution). For those of us who believed we would be seeing the next, top of the line device, the announcement was bittersweet. The ThunderBolt still has potential to be a great phone, but there's no doubt about it, it's sporting last year's specs.
First, it was rumored – lest we forget that these were rumors – that the ThunderBolt would be hitting shelves on February 14th. Next came word that the device launch date was pushed back to February 24th. Not long after, there was an internal Verizon document claiming that the device had been delayed indefinitely. If that wasn't enough, there were Best Buy locations still reporting that the device would be released on the 14th. After passing the first, elusive date, all fingers pointed to the 24th being the TBolt D-Day.
Considering that yesterday was the 24th and Verizon shelves are are still without the ThunderBolt, March has now entered the picture. And again, the dates keep getting pushed back. Yesterday it was March 4th, today we're seeing the 10th. To add the icing to the cake, the original $249.99 price tag that was spotted in a Best Buy ad has been upped to $299.99. So the problem isn't only that the date keeps getting pushed back, we're seeing an increase in pricing, too.
The problem is, the device is only slightly better than it's WiMAX brother, the EVO. That device launched 8 months ago for $199.99 with a two-year agreement with Sprint. Another close relative, the Inspire 4G on AT&T just launched for $99.99 with a two-year agreement. The major differences between the Inspire and ThunderBolt are: the Inspire's TFT display which falls short of the ThunderBolt's S-LCD display, the Inspire's lack of a front-facing camera, and the ThunderBolt is rumored to ship with a 32GB microSD card.
In comparison, all of these specifications are old news and have been backseated by dual-core processors and higher-res displays as seen in the Atrix 4G and Bionic. The Bionic hasn't been priced yet, but I would suspect it to be released around the same price point as the Atrix, which just released for $199.99 with a two-year contract on AT&T. Then again, who's to say this same pricing debacle won't occur with the Bionic? Nonetheless, I could justify a larger price tag for the specs.
Since the Bionic was announced to release in Q2, we will soon be approaching more launch info on the device. If things keep going the same for the ThunderBolt, some people may start to lose interest. I wouldn't be surprised to see those buyers to head on over to the Moto-pool. Especially if it's going to save them $100 on a more future-proofed phone.
Verizon may feel they are cutting users a deal by not charging extra for LTE access, but I'm not so sure that knocking less of the retail value of the device is going to fly very well with buyers. I was thoroughly excited when I first heard about the ThunderBolt, but the longer it gets delayed and the more I hear about it, the less interested I become. Were you or are you still interested in the ThunderBolt? How do you feel about the $299.99 price point? Have any of you switched interest to the Bionic?