Blackberry Bold launched yesterday in Canada in a low-key affair, compared to all the hoopla that surrounded iPhone. Why?
- As many commentors have noted, the price point is corporate, at $599 without a contract, and $399 with one of Roger’s punitive 3 year contracts.
- RIM themselves aren’t explicitly positioning Bold against iPhone. It’s widely known that Thunder and Kickstart will be coming soon, which have more consumer friendly form factors.
It’s a theme that seems to be propagating throughout the industry. Citigroup’s Jim Suva wrote this week that Blackberry Bold is a strong product, but not revolutionary. He sees it as a great upgrade, not a game changer.
Aside from a few Blackberry enthusiast sites, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of excitement about this product. Caveat: I haven’t held one in my hands, so I don’t really know what the experience is like. However, with 3G, an enhanced 480×320 display, a 2 megapixel camera and integrated GPS, it has the specifications to compete strongly.
This muted launch strategy is thus very surprising. It does nothing to counter the Cupertino hype machine in any meaningful way. Corporations considering iPhone will continue to look at it. Moreover, despite RIM VP Patrick Spence’s assertion that consumers will also find much to enjoy in Bold, consumers are likely to still flock to iPhone. Cool is meaningful to consumers and the price point on Bold is out of reach.
“The BlackBerry Bold continues RIM’s tradition of targeting the corporate user, but at a high-end price point with a three-year commitment, uptake may not be great even in enterprises, let alone the consumer market,” said Mark Tauschek, a senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont. “And RIM is late to the party with its BlackBerry Bold considering Apple’s iPhone has been available for over a month.”
After months of anticipation, one is left with the impression that Blackberry Bold is an expensive incremental upgrade to the existing product line; a nice-to-have but not a must-have. Surely that’s not really Waterloo’s marketing strategy?