If something like this was even hinted at for the iPhone, the tech pundits and analysts would be pulling their hair out claiming it’s the end of the world. Heck, I’m sure Thurrott would have written a few articles on all his Windows sites about it by now. Yet here is RIM having a serious quality issue with their latest device, resulting in it being pulled from the market, and there’s been little said about it. In fact, the silence is deafening.
At this point, it’s only UK-based carrier Orange that pulled the plug. When other carriers were asked about it, Rogers said only that they have a software update coming, and AT&T simply replied that they’re planning to release it this year. The latter is not much of an endorsement.
In any case, even if it’s one carrier does that really matter? The Bold is RIM’s latest and greatest model for sale. It’s their flagship model. (Do not confuse this phone with the Storm, which will not be available for another month.) The Bold was introduced only five months ago, and was RIM’s first serious shot at the iPhone. A bigger, brighter, and crisper display than they’ve ever used. It includes 3G (a first for a BB) and WiFi. It has a processor roughly twice the speed of other BBs, and an improved web browser is also part of the package. Heck, they even designed the thing to look like an iPhone as much as they could.
In short, the Bold was not just a typical update to an existing BB model, it was clearly RIM’s attempt at a serious entry meant to increase sales (or at least keep competitors at bay) over a couple quarters while they put the finishing touches on the Storm and brought it to market. RIM has been smart enough to take the iPhone seriously. Getting the Bold released (with 3G/WiFi and a design like the iPhone), working furiously on the Storm (full-screen touch and virtual keyboard like the iPhone), and significantly increasing their advertising are all part of RIM’s strategy to combat the Apple threat. These seem like reasonable steps, even though it’s lowering margins and causing the stock to get pounded.
Unfortunately, RIM forgot one very important thing: the device needs to actually, you know, work. I don’t know if the product was rushed to market, inadequately tested with Orange, or what it is, and won’t hazzard a guess. But I do know that when it’s so bad a carrier refuses to deal with all the customer complaints and has to pull your flagship product for “a couple of weeks”, you’ve got a big problem. This is true whether the tech press calls you on it or not.