Verizon Phone Display

Horace from published an interesting set of charts yesterday looking at how Samsung's profitability from mobile phones has now eclipsed Google's overall profitability.  Interesting, isn't it?  The guys who own Android aren't making nearly as much profit from it as the biggest hardware name in the business.

Anyway, there is a lot we could discuss coming from Asymco's always-interesting analysis.   But, as far as RIM is concerned, I thought the following sentence was worth mentioning...

"A key decision which made this success possible was to shift its portfolio to smartphones and to offer a large variety of such phones."

The bold part is my own added emphasis.  

How many times have we heard industry pundits say that RIM needs to manufacture fewer phones?  A lot.  I'm guilty of it too.  I don't believe (nor have I ever said) that RIM should manufacture only one phone, but I've heard plenty of smart people propose exactly that.

Why do people think RIM should sell only one (or two) phones?  Probably because Apple has been so successful with the one-phone strategy.  But that doesn't mean RIM should copy them, does it?

Clearly, Samsung has been successful too - more successful than Apple at least on a volume basis.  And Samsung has quite a lot of variety in its smartphone lineup (and that's only counting Android).

I believe that intelligent people challenge assumptions.  I've made assumptions in the past about how many models RIM should sell.  I am now starting to challenge those assumptions.  I do think RIM has been overly broad with its portfolio in the past.  But that doesn't mean they need to swing to the polar opposite end of the spectrum.  There's a happy medium.  

RIM has said it will launch 6 different BlackBerry 10 handsets in 2013.  I worried this is too big a number.  Maybe I was wrong to think that.

If we think about the different models needed, clearly we can carve them up between physical QWERTY and all-touch.  Then, we can carve them up between high-end and low end.  So we need at least 4 phones to cover the market.  Then we need to ask ourselves if a slider is desirable.  If so, it's easy to get to 6 phones.  

If RIM can do a good job of keeping the supply chain tightly integrated so that these 6 models are sharing as many main components as possible, they still benefit from volume purchasing and lower manufacturing costs.  
Having multiple handset models is working for Samsung.  Why shouldn't it work for RIM too?  Why do people assume they are idiots if they don't copy Apple's single-phone strategy?

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