On the last RIM earnings call, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said we'd see some "acceleration" from RIM towards the end of the calendar year. After what was an extremely quiet start of 2010 on the new BlackBerry front, over the last few months RIM has pushed out and/or announced a bunch of new devices onto the market. Along with BlackBerry 6, we saw the Pearl 3G and Bold 9650 get announced at WES. The Curve 3Gs followed suit as did the BlackBerry Torch. And now in what felt like rapid succession, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet got announced as did the BlackBerry Style and BlackBerry Bold 9780. With all of the above now announced and/or out on the market, our CrackBerry minds can't help but wonder What's Next??
Normally the blogs tend to be six months or so ahead of what's hitting the market, but at this point in time things are actually pretty quiet and murky on the rumor mill front. Either RIM has been getting better at keeping their secrets secret, or else it feels like we might be entering a bit of a lull as far as new device announcements go. There were rumors of the BlackBerry Storm2 9570 refresh coming, which was then followed by rumors of it getting cancelled (of course that device was never officially announced, so you can't really say it was officially cancelled either). A touchscreen version of the BlackBerry Bold 9780 (Onyx III, Dakota) has been talked about forever now, but with the 9780 just hitting the market this month you'd think any update to that form factor would have to be at least six months out so the 9780 itself has some time to sell on the market before getting upstaged. We also have yet to actually see any pre-release videos/photos of this one, so it's hard to say where it's at. Of course there was also that potential BlackBerry Storm 3 photo that surfaced at the end of September that raised our eyebrows, but the details on this one still seem murky too, especially where the operating system is concerned. Will the next Storm be running BlackBerry 6 (quicker to market) or could it be rocking QNX (longer to market)?
After seeing the BlackBerry PlayBook get announced with the new BlackBerry Tablet OS, the prevailing train of thought since then is that the QNX-based OS will ultimately become the future operating system of not only RIM's tablets, but their Smartphones as well. With the current generation of BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry 6, the question on everybody's mind right now is what will the next generation of BlackBerry devices run? Will we see one more new iteration of BlackBerry phone hardware (an upgrade in every brand line - Curve, Bold, Torch, etc.) hit the market that's running BlackBerry 6 and some slightly beefed up hardware specs? Or is RIM going to ride out this newly announced generation of hardware for longer than normal in order to revamp the next generation of BlackBerry Smartphones to be QNX-based and run even beefier hardware specs. With the PlayBook hitting with relatively cutting edge specs, you'd almost think/hope that will be RIM's attitude on their QNX-based phones when they ultimately hit too (at least with some of them - I'm sure they'll want to keep low cost device choices aplenty too), vs. what we've seen over the past couple of years of going with a more middle ground hardware specs approach.
Speaking to a lot of people post DevCon and the announcement of the BlackBerry PlayBook and Tablet OS, pretty much everyone figured it would take RIM a year (from DevCon) assuming things go smoothly to get the Tablet OS into BlackBerry phones. RIM are pros at radio codes, so hopefully writing the QNX 3G/4G stacks won't prove too much of a problem (heck, maybe they're already done), but aside from that there is obviously still a ton of work to do.
So that brings us back to what's next? If you go on the notion we're still ~11 months away from seeing a BlackBerry phone rock the QNX operating system, you almost have to assume there'll be another fleet of BlackBerry 6 devices hitting the market in the not so distant future. And if that's the case, it could be at this moment we're experiencing the calm before another storm.
Ahh, the fun and games of a CrackBerry addict. Exciting times. I can't wait to pick up a BlackBerry Bold 9780, and can't wait to see what RIM has up its sleeves next!