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Summary:

Research In Motion continued to outline its BlackBerry 10 strategy at its annual developer event, saying customers will need to buy new phones for the BB 10 experience as the company confirmed it won’t be upgrading any BlackBerry 7 phones to the new operating system.

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Research In Motion continued to outline its BlackBerry 10 strategy on Wednesday at its annual developer event, saying customers will need to buy new phones for the BB 10 experience as the company confirmed it won’t be upgrading any BlackBerry 7 phones to the new operating system.

Phone Scoop noted that at this morning’s keynote session RIM CEO Thorstein Heins explained that BlackBerry 7 and BB 10 aren’t compatible platforms and that apps written for the current platform won’t work directly on the new one. This isn’t a complete surprise as RIM has been retooling its software ever since it purchased QNX in April of 2010; the company’s PlayBook tablet runs on QNX. But it certainly makes RIM’s “reboot” a little more challenge.

Palm and Microsoft have recently tried this type of reboot and we know that didn’t work out for Palm. It’s too early to say whether or not the strategy of new phones for new software will help Microsoft’s efforts. So there’s already at least one, if not two, precedents suggesting that a complete device reinvention is risky at best.

The problem is that carriers and consumers are firmly entrenched in the iOS and Android mindset, not to mention the ecosystem of both. In order to win customers over, does it make more sense to challenge the incumbents by updating current hardware or forcing customers to take another chance by investing in new hardware? Obviously, the former is the preferred choice. And this strategy could even hurt BlackBerry sales over the next 6 to 9 months as customers realize their device will be considered a legacy one before year end.

Again, this news isn’t a complete surprise, but it suggests that RIM’s strategy for the past two years has been short-sighted. As soon as it purchased QNX and began to build its new smartphone platform, the company should have thought farther out. Instead it debuted a stop-gap solution with BlackBerry 7 last year and also focused on tablet software in lieu of smartphones.

Had RIM skipped the PlayBook and devoted more resources to its phones, the BB 10 time-table might have been moved up. Instead, RIM is late to the game and asking customers to pay the price in the form of new handsets.

  1. I bet RIM repositions BB 7 and lower as an entry level platform ideally suited for sales overseas and for texting teens. Not saying that will be successful – but I bet that’s what they try.

    Also RIM is still stuck on the idea that BBM is a strategic advantage. I’m not entirely sold that it is since there are alternatives in WhatsApp and KIK that essentially duplicate BBM and make it also cross platform. I’m unsure that BBM will continue to be a feature that “sticks” customers to RIM.

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  2. It has been entertaining to watch RIM’s slow-motion crash, but maybe it’s time to speculate about the coming asset sale.

    The patents and service would be a good addition to Google and Motorola, no? Will Apple and Microsoft bid for them too? Will Canada block sale of Blackberry services to foreign (including US) buyers? To Chinese manufacturers? Because all of these guys must be making quiet bids now, and it’s pretty unlikely that BB10 will be coming to a store near anyone, ever.

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    1. “It has been entertaining…”

      I know. This is such a perfect mix of intertwined sadism and masochism, it is indeed entertaining to watch.

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