What will happen to RIM's device numbering scheme as they approach 10,000?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| September 20, 2011

Since day one, or from the first product release, Research In Motion has used a particular and well-known numbering scheme for their devices. There's no obvious rhyme or reason behind it, but if you were ever a BlackBerry fan, you likely are familiar with the “pattern” and could probably tell what class an upcoming device is, solely by the model number.

The first couple devices started in the 800 to 900 range. Not long after, they graduated on up to the 5000 and 6000 series, followed by the 7000 and 7100 series. And the part most of you guys and gals are familiar with, the portion of RIM's handsets that broke into the consumer sector, are the 8000 and 9000 series – most notably the 8300, 8500, 9000, 9500, 9600, 9700, 9800 and 9900 series.

Four-digit model numbers are fine; they're easy to say, somewhat easy to follow, and they're familiar. But one of the most recent additions to RIM's lineup, the new Bold 9900 line, begs the question: what will happen to the numbering scheme as they approach 10,000? Model numbers over 10,000 simply do not make sense, other than chronologically, of course.

Many of us BlackBerry fanatics have been wondering this since back in 2008, when RIM launched the original Bold 9000, but nobody truly knows hat RIM will do. After dabbling on the idea for a couple days and consulting a few colleagues and fellow BlackBerry fans, I've come up with a few things that RIM could do.

Recycle or reuse old model numbers

One possibility brought to my attention was that RIM could simply reuse model numbers. They wouldn't be the first, as Nokia has done this in the past. But Research In Motion has a secondary naming scheme (Bold, Torch, Curve, etc.), and the could use that to their advantage. For instance, the Curve Touch 8500. The only problem I see with this is consumer confusion – the lower and older model numbers may lead customers to believe they're not buying into the latest or best technology. Then again, people buying BlackBerrys for the past few years haven't been doing that anyway. (Harsh, but true.)

Start over and use alphanumeric model numbers

Although I doubt they would start back at number one, they could continue their scheme into the 10,000 range, only truncating the "1" at the beginning. For example the Bold 10900 would be the Bold 0900, or just Bold 900. "O-nine-hundred" has a nice ring to it and keeps numbering on par with what they already have. Eventually, however, they will run into another problem, reusing old numbers. They wouldn't actually be old numbers, as they're still moving forward, but it could still lead to confusion down the road.

There is, however, a way for them to avoid that. The best part of this whole numbering ordeal is that RIM have something entirely new on their hands: QNX. They could use this when it comes to device model numbers by creating compound, alphanumeric model numbers. For example, the first QNX device could be the QNX900, or 0900Q, or virtually any combination of relevant numbers and letters.

Drop the numbering scheme on the marketing side

RIM has been toying a lot with new device names over the past few years. They named the first BlackBerry to feature the Torch Mobile webkit browser very accordingly, and introduced a naming scheme to accommodate the rather bland numbers. RIM could very well drop the numbers altogether on the consumer side of things. Of course, they would still have model numbers, specifically for internal use – all devices do. But this new start with QNX could bring something totally new from RIM, like device nicknames as seen in Android and Windows Phone counterparts. This is something I don't wish to happen, as I'm clearly not a fan of random device names. But hey, I'm sure some of you would like a BlackBerry Dakota or Gemini (these are old code names that were once used for now released devices).

Keep on keepin' on

For all we know, RIM may not see anything wrong with a five-digit model number. The first QNX 'Berry may turn out to be the BlackBerry Bold 10000. I don't particularly like it or think this will happen, but it is RIM's game and their prerogative to do as they please with model numbers.

What do you guys and gals think? Will RIM use five-digit model numbers for QNX devices? Will they drop the numbering scheme altogether? Speculate in the comments below!