Why is RIM wasting their time with the BlackBerry P'9981?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: October 27, 2011

Research In Motion the underdog. Research In Motion is the company that I still believe has a real shot at coming back from all of the negative perception and making a real comeback. Research In Motion is a company that, even against all the odds, I believe still has a real shot at making a huge impact on the market, even if it’s a slow-and-steady race they are trying to win. But in this race every move counts, every move is being watched. And while slip-ups are bound to happen, where in that usually means a phone gets launched that doesn’t get the best perception in the wild amongst consumers, a mistake like the one that RIM is making with this new Porsche-themed BlackBerry goes beyond that.

Special edition phones aren’t new, not by a longshot. But special edition phones aren’t meant to win over the majority. Special edition phones are a way to show off a single feature, or a single brand, or something else that makes the phone “special” over the original family line-up of phones. That’s what makes them special. But in those instances, the special edition phone will only see a relatively small price hike versus the “normal” device. A hundred dollars. Two hundred? Okay, that’s a bit steep, but we’ll allow it, because it might not be possible to put a price tag on “special.” (At least a company has a hard time pricing special, it seems.)

But $2,000? What on Earth is RIM thinking? And, honestly, the phone itself isn’t all that bad specifications wise. We’re looking at a 2.8-inch touchscreen, a 1.2GHz processor, a 5MP camera around back, with 768MB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage. There’s BlackBerry 7 installed on the device, even if it does look quite different. So, we’ve essentially got the Bold Touch, packed in a brand new shell and featuring an in-depth tweak to the user interface. Okay, great – people are going to be flocking to this thing, right?

Of course not. First, just look at the thing. As you can see from the image above, the design elements that made the BlackBerry Bold Touch so (and I’m going to quote Aaron here) “sexy,” are gone. Sure, there’s something eye-catching about the slightly block-and-curvy format of the Porsche-themed model, but it isn’t the same thing. I know there’s going to be a few people out there that think this phone is attractive, but I don’t think it looks anywhere as nice as the original Bold Touch. And then there’s that keyboard, which at first glance looks about as usable as a kid’s toy. Actually, at second, third and fourth glance, the keyboard doesn’t look any better at all. And I don’t believe for a moment that it is any better to use than the Bold Touch’s keyboard. Not at all.

And then we’ve got the price. If you read the original article, and went through the press release, then you know that RIM is focusing on the “luxury” aspect of the phone. What, exactly, is luxurious about this handset? I get that it has the Porsche name on it. Okay, great. I get that it has a different aesthetic compared to other phones, especially other BlackBerry-branded handsets. But, where in the specifications sheet do you see any part of this new phone that genuinely warrants a $2,000 price tag? No, the Porsche name alone does not equal a $1,750 price hike.

RIM isn’t in the best place right now. They haven’t been for a while now, and the company has been doing everything they can to put themselves back in the lime light. This isn’t the way to do that. This just shows me that RIM is taking too many side roads, and that their attention isn’t perfectly focused on what it needs to be. BBX is the next big thing – so you put all of your focus on making the best hardware, coupled with the best software, to completely win over the consumer market in 2012.

A Porsche-themed, $2,000 phone isn’t the way to do that.