Maybe Samsung is a better model for RIM than Apple

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By Chris Umiastowski on 15 Nov 2012 02:53 pm EST

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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Reader comments

Maybe Samsung is a better model for RIM than Apple


Multiple units work. The company I work for has 3 variants of BB's in play. The biggest by far is the Curve 9300. The soldier or grunt as it were.
Upper management has the Bold and Torch (per taste) and a few iToys.

Not sure if 6 is over kill, but I can see where it might work as long as it's the same OS all throughout.

Yes, exactly.  Same OS is key.  And to clarify, I don't mean that all 6 (or however many) models need to be in all carriers, in all markets.  For example in North America we might not ever see a super low end phone, but I think it would need to be there in Indonesia and the Philippines.  So I could see RIM doing more than 6 models if it could be done profitably.  Otherwise, we've seen RIM acknowledge the potential to do things differently, like license the rights to lower end phones to another company.  Then stick, internally, only to higher end products.  However that would work.  

Agreed, if the OS experience is the same then it should be okay to have multiple phones, but with one caveat: when we hear of Samsung, we hear Galaxy S3 or Note 2, and basically nothing else. So all their other phones are basically lost in the noise, and that might be the trap RIM falls into if many of their phones are underwhelming.

Only nice, high end phones get publicity, so I guess if RIM makes a couple versions of "grunt" phones that should sell well overseas that would be okay. But everyone here at work no longer wants a low-end Curve, they want high end all the way. So in that sense, if RIM overwhelms the market with low end phones with small screens, then I'm not so sure a great OS will make convince people that RIM is a premium brand.

If a company uses RIM to distribute phones to their employees. Most likely the employee will get the lower end model. Do they know what this will do to RIM's image? The employees who get this phone will end up having a pretty bland first hand experience with the phone. So then, they end up chasing for a different brand if they choose to get a second phone for personal use.

I think RIM will have to really think about exactly how low end are they willing to sell to companies. Sure, companies may end up buying bigger bulk of the low end phones, but the employees using them will be the one advertising it to the public. It probably won't be a good one.

BTW, how would RIM make a QWERTY-only Curve? Would it need to have a touchscreen since BB10 is ditching the trackpad?

Can't wait to see the low-end devices.

The crap will be squeezed out of the shorts very soon.
All it takes is one big buy .... and this stock could have HUGE upside. They are thousands of shareholders sitting on hundreds of millions of shares. Very few shares in play according to the AIV reports.

The thing that bit RIM before was that it was painful to develop for the platform and all the various screen geometries were difficult to plan around. With the Samsung ecosystem it's all open source, build-once-support-many and then they've added a cool layer of UI on top to make it sexy.

Much like RIM is doing by using the RTOS of QNX that is stuffed inside robots and cars (power) and making it sexy (Flow & Peek) and getting all the new applications to conform to that.

They have supplied a really strong ecosystem to the consumer and to the developers to make it a no brainer.

For the devices: A tablet or two, two high-end devices (touch & keyboard), a slider, and two low end devices et voila.

Makes perfect sense to me.


The biggest thing is managing the strategy : get the right phones to the right people and make the brand differentiated and desirable.

I think RIM learned from the past and they will do it right this time, I trust in ThorsTEN and I hope them a successful BB10 launch to gain the market again and put the BlackBerry Brand as it was before. #BB4Life

A happy medium, a full fleshed out portfolio is good. 6 phones throughout the course of 2013 is a solid plan, especially when one of them is a phablet 'Galaxy Note' like device (A-Series, Aristo) they don't need TONS of devices, just great ones that hit every consumer interest point.

Sent via Blackberry 9900

I love the idea of a RIM Phablet if they can show true productivity, being able to be a person on the move, this would be huge for a true buisness professional, also with the average person who just likes the idea of huge phones...

As long as they don't do what Samsung (and Rim...) does and properly support the devices they make I'll be happy.

My brother got a iPhone 3GS on a three year contract and received an OS update for it AFTER his contract expired. I got a Galaxy S1. The final update was 1 year after I locked in on a contract. Same thing happened with people who bought the OS 6 torch.

RIM seems to be on the right track with the Playbook. It'll be getting BB10 2 years after it was released and hopefully a few more updates afterwards. I hope RIM continues to support their devices for their lifetime. If they do that, I couldn't care less about how many devices they make.

this is the catch 22... releasing hot new phones every few months, but then not keeping the older phones up to speed...

Im looking for the phone that can make sure a phone gets the updates to keep it working like a new phone for at least two years (if i buy a phone when its release on a two year contract i should be getting updates till i get a new phone)

I think the main issue with RIM's number of models in the past was how confusing it all was. There were separate phones for GSM and CDMA, god knows how many Curve variations, and a few different Bolds. Having four-digit numerical model numbers didn't help either.

This right here. That's definitely one the biggest issues with RIM's multi-phone model. Know one cares if it's a GSM or CDMA phone and they definitely don't need a specific model number to designate it as such.

People do care, because GSM blackberry's can be unlocked and a prepaid sim from another carrier can be used, while CDMA cannot be unlocked and used with other carriers. Big difference.

And with all the different models coming in different form and shape caused a lot of apps to work improperly. That is a HUGE flaw in my eyes.

Some people do care and those that do will ask/find out and they don't need a separate model or model number to do that.

I've never owner a BB but have friends that have. All the 4-digit models did confuse me. It wasn't as simple to compare models and features as other phones.

I suppose the real question is can RIM afford to put that many devices to market. I understand the need for lower end devices for emerging markets and such but wouldnt that be all they need is 4, 2 all touch and 2 qwerty? As for a slider wouldnt be better to do a study to see if there is a market for them instead of building them and then finding out nobody wants them?

I had bought the Torch 9800 and as much as I enjoyed it I was constantly worried about breaking it in two pieces.

BlackBerry Torch 9860 and PlayBook

"As for a slider wouldnt be better to do a study to see if there is a market for them instead of building them and then finding out nobody wants them?"

I would like to think the appropriate RIM department has already done this and that is why they're pursuing 6 models. We actually don't know what 4 of those models are (only a high end all touch and a high end qwerty are for certain). But like some others have already stated........I don't care how many models they have as long as there's a common os thread throughout that maintains consistency and that they can sustain profitability (obviously).

speaking from personal experience i feel there is definitely room in the market for a slider.
it remains the choice for me and plenty of my friends

I totally agree with you, slider is great ! ...

... as long as it is not an "emasculated" version such as the 9810 VS 9860 (where the screen resolution is lower, cpu slower, etc).

I strongly believe that the slider is the ideal form factor to be able to get a full touch-screen for most of the commons things (web browsing, maps, music, basic texting, etc) and a Keyboard for heavy bbm, long emails, etc.

The manufacturing mix of handsets would need special attention. Produce too many of one that doesn't sell then you're in trouble. There are so many variables that affect demand. I think at this point RIM is aggressive but not going overboard with choice. Perhaps and I really mean I hope BB10 is a success so that they can place BB10 in more categories

I'm still leaning towards 3 QWERTY devices (Full sized/High end like Bold 9900, mid size like Bold 9790 and entry level like Curve 9360) 2 Full touch devices (High end like Torch 9860 and entry level like Curve 9380) and 1 Slider (like Torch 9810)

But thats just my 2 cents on how the 6 BB10 devices will break down.

And it's a very logical 2 cents. I am sporting a 9810, best of both worlds, larger screen than a 9900 and I still have a keyboard. I am curious as to how popular the 10 is compared to the others. The gentleman at the T-Mobile store I visited recently said their location didn't sell a single 9810 and all were returned and that the 9810 in general sold poorly, so they dropped it and only sell the 9900 and a Curve model.

I found out T-mobile had the torch after it was too late that is why i never bought it! they never had posters on their windows or anything in the ads. :( i only knew AT&T had it :'(

I think you may be conflating a couple issues. First, yes, Samsung makes multiple phones and has been successful. But, as PineappleUnderTheSea said, only the Galaxy phones get any significant media attention or have significant mindshare. This shows that even though it continues to have offerings at different price-points, Samsung still recognized the need to build up a brand and marketing strategy around a single line of a few, flagship phones. It's doing more to standardize the software experience across this line and, instead, differentiating those phones across meaningful decision points, such as screen size.

Also, RIM is not Samsung. As a manufacturer of key components, Samsung basically is the supply chain for itself and moves enough volume to justify expending manufacturing effort on multiple models. RIM is consolidating its manufacturing because it no longer moves enough volume to justify supply chain diversity. Does it move enough volume to justify going the route of more models vs. fewer? Maybe overseas. But, in terms of rebuilding the brand, it needs to establish and market a single flagship line with few, clear differentiation points: touch and qwerty.

I think they gave up on the "Style" form factor....Having an All-Touch, Bold like, Slider, Curve like , and Flip(style) is a good variety. If there is somebody trying to buy any of these phones then they should try and be in that market, I can't see a reason not too..

Can't believe the launch is so close, people say it feels like forever but it doesn't, the delayed delay felt like forever but they are finally ready to release :D I saw a video of the latest OS build with the smaller icons on here today and it is looking very very good!!! Christmas may be December 25th but for many of us it will be February. So excited.

Personally I don't think RIM should mirror either Apple or Samsung. More, I believe RIM should merge those 2 companies together and find the middle ground.

Apple isn't doing as well as Samsung because its single phone design caters only to the high end market - that's already a limit. Samsung pushes out numerous phones to cover all market levels from low-end to high-end; in that, Samsung has already thrown out a wider net and catches more fish. However, Samsung has the advantage in that it does not need to support a large department devoted solely to developing an OS - it leaves that and the costs of that to Google. If Samsung now or back then developed its own OS and hardware like Apple and RIM, then I do wonder if it will be as successful as it is now. Most likely not.

RIM's decision to push out 6 phones suggests that that is exactly what Heins has in mind - finding that middle ground. They can't and shouldn't push out more than that (and definitely not have the slew of phones like Samsung) but have an optimal number of phones with BB10 that will cater to the pocketbooks of different economic classes. This way all who want the BB10 OS will be able to afford it. The key is to cover the economic range of the consumer but do not try to cover the taste of the consumer (i.e. do not produce 5 phones of different styles targeting a specific price range but rather have one good style for each price range).

I'm hardly a business person but that is my humble opinion.

~I am BlackBerry by choice~

I mostly agree with you but I would like to point out that Apple isn't solely high-end. They sell 3GS, 4 and 4S at discounted rates covering the low and mid-range price points.

I believe they only recently have done that while Samsung has followed the model of business for a while; so it will be interesting to see how this change will affect Apple sales. Also, isn't all Apple phones on the same data plan pricing (which is more on the expensive side compared to competitors)?

But correct me if I'm wrong.

~I am BlackBerry by choice~

Exactly, and I think that's a point that's often missed in the product line discussion. Yes, from a price standpoint, the latest iPhone caters to the high-end market, but those who can't afford it still want it. So, they either settle for last year's iPhone model or settle for a different phone.

Does RIM want BlackBerry to be the phone that price-sensitive consumers settle for? Sure, that might move volume, but those consumers will be longing for something else. To rebuild its image and mindshare, RIM needs to make BlackBerry the phone people long for, not the one they settle for.

I believe they've done it since the 4 came out, making the 3GS cheaper and I do believe data plans are more expensive for the iphone, not to mention that they use little to no data compression.

Looking at ATTs site they're still selling the iphone 4, so two gens back. This seems like a great strategy for RIM, have two or three new models a year and then sell them cheaper the following year. Rather than having a lower end Curve line, which requires R&D, FCC approval, carrier testing etc.

i was about to post a comment but some comments here have pointed out what i wanted to say, especially your comment ^^
innovations are good but over-innovating (by making too many device on a series like the old OS devices) will cost more to them than the probability of getting more sales.

also samsung's profits are not only from selling their top level devices, their sales are mostly driven not by their samsung galaxy/note series but by their lower level devices, and (i think) from their manufacturing for apple's components. we will see how samsung's profit will be when apple no longer buy components from them.

i agree with you that RIM should learn from pluses & minuses of each of their competitors and tailor it the best that suit their needs. which is what i believe we will see in their OS 10 devices. i'm glad they dropped the confusing numbers and stick with names (at least for now). but they still have huge homeworks, on promoting & marketing their product to make people want it. no, to make more people NEED it. to make people to become like me lol :p at least to make more people buy it ^^

I really do hope they stop with the 4 digit number system when naming their phone. Stick with names. They are a NEW company, a NEW year, a NEW future, a NEW phone.

Much of Samsungs success comes from also being a component manufacturer. They even supply their competitors.

That means they can hike component prices and sell their handsets at cost, providing a massive advantage when attracting carriers (consumers don't necessarily see the benefit).

The key to phones is software. Has been from the day Apple released the iPhone. Even RIM sells 10's of millions of handsets. I'm fairly sure that once you get to a million the economies of scale are well and truly factored in.

So if they can happily manufacture a half dozen phone styles while keeping the software consistent across the range, then why not.

I'll buy a BB10 device from day one, but I'd be very happy to see a slider version. Stick 9900 features in a 98xx device and you'd have a winner (especially if the 9900 keyboard could be shoehorned in somehow).

i think apple is more on steve jobs factor of being one of successful brand in the world. he was one of those geniuses and apple was lucky to have him. he did save apple by returning back to active from retirement and made apple one of the biggest company in the world. we will see how apple will be in the next years after he passed away.

you mentioned interesting thing about samsung. but i think what they do is not selling their components more expensive to their competitors, they only use the production cost to buy their own components (which is reducing the cost of making the phones). and because samsung is already a big company before they enter the phone industry, they don't really have a problem making tons of models and won't be really a problem if some of them are not selling well. RIM can't afford to do what samsung does because phone is the only RIM does (for now). maybe when they can innovate some way for the qnx to make profits from other than phone area, they can make lots of types like samsung does. or when RIM can (successfully) expand their business to other area than phone business (like maybe creating a division of cloud security for competitors or companies, or maybe a division that create and sell appliances that can be used with a blackberry etc).

First, RIM cannot afford to support dozens of phones per year. Each phone requires engineering, hardware design, prototype, build, test, FCC and other approval, carrier testing, marketing, sales & delivery. Why not just sell last year's phone at a discount and keep building new stuff every 4-6 months -- this is how fast technology is coming out anyway.

RIM needs to continue to keep building the best stuff, make it relevant, and make it hit shelves at key times -- before Christmas, before graduation, before back-to-school, which is why I suggest a new pair of devices every 4 months. I think RIM has seen value in this philosophy, which is why they promise 6 devices in 2013. The only hiccup is they missed Christmas 2012. Perhaps they'll get it right in 2013.

By building devices in pairs, they will appease those who like full-touch and keyboard devices. Both will have the same guts, just different physical format.

Let's not forget, Samsung can crank phones out because they sell hardware components. Others have to buy components from them. Samsung's devices are independent and don't rely on a network infrastructure as RIM's do -- although that is changing with BB10.

While continuing to sell the older models is an option especially in the all-touch range where a new model is likely to mean a bigger screen, it is only a viable one if the costs have dropped on the older model sufficiently to support a lower price-point.

Last year's stuff is always cheaper. After 2 years, that is not necessarily the case; however, Apple is selling 1 year old and 2 year old devices as new, but heavily discounted! There must still be value in doing so.

My point is, why build cheaper devices when you can sell older ones at a discount. Save on engineering, building, testing, manufacturing, marketing, selling, delivery, safety approvals, etc., etc. RIM should be focused on building the best devices, albeit in different configurations and perhaps different designs too. There is value in a special edition models, which is why folks buy these red, white or blue devices. Same guts just different housing.

I think that 4 models a year is plenty right now, you would have a core three of bold, torch and curve with room for one more per year whether that is another form factor like a slider or a premium model like the 9981.

That would give them one per quarter so they always had something fairly new in the stores which would in turn continue to attract attention to the previous models too, but it would get away from the laundry list of minor variants that somebody would have to go through compared with an iphone where they just ask what size and what colour.

One thing they probably need to do is always try and stick to a particular quarter so you could have q1 for torch, q2 for bold, q3 (back to school) for curve and q4 for the 4th one and to benefit from the new model they could also add some new colour variants of the previous quarter's device alongside the new one to further maintain sales and ideally for existing customers a significant software release each quarter too.

In time the market at the lower end would probably expand as bb7 curve owners also upgrade and there might be room for a 2nd curve a year which would require rejigging the schedule, but they need to keep their range more compact than in the past, offering choice is good, but the choices have to be distinct enough to be worth the development time.

I totally agree,the current problem RIM has right now is too much choice which has caused a kind over internal saturation..keep it simple by offering fewer but better handsets makes it much easier for the average consumer to make a decisive purchase and not cause like they have done in the past confusion...If the new handsets are as robust as we believe they will be there is no need for 6 plus different models that's just a plain waste of revenue

I belive RIM's path is... somewhere in between!!
Not as many devices as Samsung... there are some no one has ever heard of... and not only one model as Apple... just because BB people aren't sheeps and they like to choose what's best for them!!!

I also believe the plan is already going that way... just some devices, 2 screen sizes, the same experience in all the models... with the... flow...

Experience before specs... who said a 4000cc car is faster than a 2000cc???
Besides, the engine isn't pushing the same wheigt here... BB10 OS is going to be a blast...

I BBel10ve!!

Multiple per year works, but the difference has to be in form factor not features or exclusivity that would otherwise fragment the experience. This is where RIM keeps coming up short - or at least they have in the past.

Barring a low-end device that lacks some more expensive components, every model should be consistent in terms of features, and offered to all carriers. RIM seems to have done the opposite by removing items from the higher end devices, not just the lower ones (AF camera in bold, NFC in torch).

The experience needs to be uniform - doesn't matter if its 1 model or 10.

The psychology of sales is screwed on this site. Not to forget to mention the perception of bb users comparing RIM to apple. Now Samsung. Well if this isn't a imbecilic story by chris followed by the black sheep I don't know what is.

Just having a discussion. It's an interesting business model discussion. What works, what doesn't. RIM is neither Apple or Samsung. They have no equal as they have a unique business. We cannot ask them to be like Apple, but we can learn from what Apple has done. We can also learn from Google and Samsung. Nokia is a case of "what not to do".

Another issue of concern is the accessory manufacturers. Don't want to piss them off creating dozens of phones in different sizes and formats.

Also, carriers can only support so many devices. They will easily kill off (i.e., discontinue) RIM's last two phones and replace them with the two new ones. RIM cannot do all this great work to have their phones live for only 120 days. They build too good a device, and that's why we all love BlackBerry!

I hope RIM doesn't move to create disposable phones like Samsung does -- made ready-to-shatter with cheap plastic and awkward buttons that don't work well. Okay, the new Galaxy III does give them some new credibility from an engineering perspective, but it's still build ready-to-shatter! Break protection is optional -- buy Gorilla case or buy carrier insurance plan!

seriously who cares?

samsung makes a dozen or so phones and in the end, the higher end devices are the ones that get treated to most accessories from third parties.

it works for apple because its pretty much one form factor and one high end device but it's a model that wouldn't be sustainable for RIM unless they made all their phones the same size. choice is great hey

Personally, RIM have nothing to gain from third party accessory makers. RIM could easily throw a few bucks at the accessory market and make some for their own.

At least RIM is prepared to put in the ports needed to work with current technology and allow for just a proprietary port that'll just annoy everyone.

I was... AM a big fan of the Pearl series. I had the flip & couldn't wait till the 3G was released. As much as I was a big fan of the Pearl series I was a small part of the market.

After the 3G my next model that interested me the most was ironically the iPhone 5. Which I got in the last month. If a 4G LTE Pearl had been in the works I'd still be with BB. With the amount of interest generated by my favourite models of bb I can see why RIM abandoned it.

Same. I love my Pearl 3G. iPhone 5 would also be my alternate choice, but I'm holding out for BB10.

I would love a BB10 device the size of a Pearl 3G, but thinner.

I've always said rim should have more phones targeting different types of users. Look at P&G they have the same products just labeled different eg sunlight and tide both have different marketing campaigns also.

As for the comment aboutthe mother intelligent people challenging assumption,it's only human nature and not many think outside the box the reason why people buy into different things and why people assume RIM will die if BB10 isn't a success and hat they can't shrink down and focus on where their profits are are coming from

It is not 'interesting' that Samsung makes more money from Android than Google does. Android was never made to make Google that much money. it's real purpose to to snag the mobile market for Google (and hence mobile ads, mobile search).

Surely this is a well known fact...

I think RIm has to have multpiple units. But the units need to have consistencies between them. In our company I use/would use three. One non touch screen for the field staff that their phones are constantly in and out of their pocket. One model for our middle level staff, they need to be able to do a little more with it and a touch screen would be very handy. And finally one high end model that does it all for senior staff. Currently we are using 9650's and 9930's. I am ready and needing to replace most of the 9650's but am holding out for BB10, I really would like to have a non touch screen model available.

I think there needs to be at least 6 models: QWERTY, all-touch, and slider with high-end and low-end of each. It could easily go to 9 if you add a mid-range for each. Higher than that I would start to worry. The real problem, I think, is labelling them in a way that people can understand. The last few years of BBs have been way too confusing for anybody to know what to buy.

You should share it with the CEO of the RIM. You have to think about the Apple's single-phone strategy. Why did it work?

- Rezaur Rahman

4, 4S, and 5. Three phones, three price points. What I don't understand however, is why anyone buys a phone under contract that isn't the high end model.

i think RIM needs to focus on fewer devices at a time. ideally L-series, N-series, followed by a slider then a Curve equivalent.
Once Blackberry have caught up on the hardware, they can release more devices. But releasing a load of average devices will not help them.

They need to keep in mind that the average consumer is dazzled by specs, and even though blackberry does not need the specs like Android does, they will not see it that way and automatically assume BB is inferior.

BB also needs to examine some carriers. i know people have been charged prices that you'd expect for a S3 or a 9900, but for a curve 8520. these people have been put of blackberry forver because they paid a premium price for an entry level device which did not compare in any way to other premium devices

another point is Samsung get quite a bit of money from providing hardware to other models like the iphone.
i wouldnt be surprised if they make a loss on most of their phones which is ofset by other areas of the business

Samsung doesn't have to spend resources developing the core OS. Google doesn't make money on Android. They make it on advertising.

RIM does have to develop the core OS and is not going to make money on advertising on some other way to subsidize the core OS development.

I don't think modeling themselves after Samsung is going to be good idea.

Yet again Chris, another excellent, intelligent article. I completely agree, I think if RIM introduces a Slider, 6 new phones will be right in the sweet spot for number of handsets.
If RIM can clearly identify what each phones intended purpose is, 6 differnt BlackBerry's will be better than 1 Apple.

Let rim be rim, they don't have to be like apple, microsoft or samsung which makes everything besides smartphones.

All I can say is, GO BB10!!!! :)

6 different ones for the world is good enough within a year.

The branding for the phone will definitely need to change. . . GSM vs CDMA really doesn't justify the confusing numeric system they use currently. Also when it comes to high vs low end I still seem RIM with a good chance at eroding a some of Samsung's hold on the low end market. . . think about it. . .how much OS variety is there currently at the low end? RIM has a way of making low end devices look and feel much better than low end. . .

The crap will be squeezed out of the shorts very soon.
All it takes is one big buy .... and this stock could have HUGE upside. They are thousands of shareholders sitting on hundreds of millions of shares. Very few shares in play according to the AIV reports.

If the slider model was thin and light I think it could be a big hit .

There some striking design conceptions on the internet.

The sliders were always buggy. My 9800 had 5 major issues within 4 months, every other Bold or Curve lasted through a zombie apocalypse.

RIM can have all the models the want, AS LONG AS they don't fragment their resolution and hardware. That is what really killed them before. I know that for BB10 they are going for 2 resolutions so as long as they stick to that I hope that they have many phones to choose from and continue chugging along.

I bought my Torch since day 1, and it's still solid like a rock! You probably had some bad luck with it!

They should do a slider as it gives the good of both worlds, the keyboard and a big screen!

the new RIM mission is to have NO bugs or hardware issues in 2013 and beyond.
Bugs etc are unacceptable.

There is a big difference between offering only one handset and the myriad of phones they offered before. Agree with previous posts that the numbering scheme was confusing. As long as the Bold remains the Bold despite slight configuration differences, Just like the S3 is called an S3 despite being on all carriers.

I think 6 still may be too many. High end and low end versions each of the QWERTY and all-screen form factors would be my call. I don't know anyone that has a slider Android or BB device anymore.

Here is what I hope: (partially based on confirmed facts)

1. L-Series - All touch - 55mm wide - 4.2" screen (~16:9) - 1280x768 - 356ppi

2. N-Series - QWERTY - 53mmm wide - 3.1" screen - 720x720 (1:1) - 330ppi

3. Slider - 56mm wide - 3.5" screen - 720x720 (1:1) - 300ppi

4. All touch XL - 78mm wide - 5.5" screen - 1280x720 (16:9) - 267ppi

5. Small tablet - 110mm wide - 7.0" screen - 1280x720 (16:9) - 200ppi

6 Large tablet - 160mm wide - 10.1" screen - 2560x1440 (16:9) - 290ppi

The problem with that is RIM told developers there would only be 2 sizes of phones: 1280x720 for all touch & 720x720 for QWERTY.

A smaller QWERTY still with a 720x720 screen would have an insane PPI and it would Not be low end.

For 2 reasons:

1. RIM told developers there would only be 2 sizes of phones: 1280x720 for all touch & 720x720 for QWERTY. Since a slider is QWERTY then RIM has already said it would have to be 720x720.

2. Again going by the fact that those are the only 2 screen sizes possible a 1280x720 would not realistically be smaller than 4.1" which means it would be very big and top heavy when open. The only phone that has tried this size and form factor, the Dell Venue Pro, flopped miserably.

Not saying I wouldn't like to see one, just that it is Very unlikely.

The argument is multi vs single.

RIM knows its markets and develops devices accordingly.

Important thing is marketing for high end devices. RIM benefits from basically having "one" device, The blackberry. So when there is positive sentiment the indifferent user can go in and ask for a blackberry, much like they will for the iphone.

As far as business model? RIMs is far superior to any other company. You don't decide what sports team is the next denisty based on prior years results.

I disagree with you Chris. RIM's heritage is in hardware and they are only getting better from here on out with BlackBerry 10. The quality of Samsung hardware is that of cheap plastic more suitable for Android.

Stop writing suggestions like these out of left field. The new Research in Motion is delivering it's best product (BB10) to its loyal customer base and beyond.

I don't think you are an industrial engineer. Samsung hardware quality is very good. As I've posted here before and doubtless will again, engineering polymers and magnesium alloy chassis are the best way to make mobile phones. Aluminium and glass are pretty but not as good for the purpose.
Samsung make phones and tablets with very thin backs, which is good for getting the heat out and letting out the all-important RF (these are radio devices, you know). You may not realise this, but making reliable components out of thin plastics is difficult and expensive. Any fool can knock out a thick, heavy back using a cheap injection moulding machine. Making a thin back requires very expensive machinery, and a complete mastery of material flow in the mold. By using aluminium (As Jonathan Ives pronounces it, btw) Apple create a number of serious engineering problems for themselves. Machining is difficult and wasteful; there are fire risks and the risk of tearing the thin material. Also, aluminium bends and does not spring back; glass backs fracture; but polycarbonate and glass filled nylon bend and return to shape. That's why RIM make their phones out of engineering polymers; to make them tough. The Playbook has a flexible back, and I believe the BB 10 phones will too. That is the engineers winning out over the "designers", and that is the way it should be.

My fear is that the 6 phones at the BB10 launch will be three of the L and three of the N series each with different performance specifications.

I can't imagine the mess it would create for developers if someone with a low end N series couldn't run the applications that the higher end N series can.

Also, I fear that RIM is looking at the poor sales of the Torch 9800/9810 phones (due to hardware and software, not form factor) and has decided to not make a BB10 phone with the slider form factor.

IMO, slab phones like the L series are a cheap way out of making a phone with multiple input options. The slider would offer a bigger screen than the N series, the proper size and aspect ratio for BB10 applications to run properly and also give users a physical keyboard for when they want it.

I likely won't upgrade from my Torch 9800 unless there's a BB10 slider.

If the current leaked specs are right, the "low end" L, the London, will have a higher end OMAP 4470 processor with no LTE, and the "higher end" Laguna/Lisbon will have the S4 with LTE. The OMAP 4470 is no slouch, has a good GPU, and is outperforming Tegra3 chips, but will be cheaper than an S4. Performance differences won't like going from a Bold 9900 to a Curve 9360 (which is painfully slow compared to the Bold). I think this is a good approach to getting out a cheaper BB10 device without impacting the user experience.

I don't care how many phones, as long as you don't make me have to compromise on what's important to me.

Think of it this way, each of us as individual consumers, I only want to carry one phone, and it's got to be right for each of us. If you make one phone that can cover everybody, then great, you make that one phone. If you cannot, you better make sure you give us a selection to make each of us happy.

It dosn't matter if RIM makes 1 or 5 or 10 phones .. If they don't have "the APPS" like Netflix, Skype, Flipboard, CNN and others .. BB10 will end up like the Playbook ! Deja vu !'s called FLIPBOARD !! It's an app on iPad, IPhone and Android that brings together world news and social news in a beautiful magazine. And it's free ! Check it out ! It's a MUST for every cellphone!

The costs play an important role when it comes to 1 vs many in my opinion. If certain costs of new hardware development or even production can be cut down using economies of scope, go for it.

If it takes too much time and resources and makes you lose focus on each device being the best you can make (making quality compromises), then don't even think about it - go for economies of scale and make 2/3 highly differentiated phones.

my 2 cents anyways..


Rocking my two berries:
Torch 9810 OS and Playbook OS
Twitter: @mr_theend

and ofc, as always, good job on the article Chris!
Rocking my two berries:
Torch 9810 OS and Playbook OS
Twitter: @mr_theend

I believe if your plan is to go worldwide with country specific networks and average revenues, then you cannot afford a single device strategy. Add that BB customers are mostly physical keyboard addicts and RIM have to address the whole touch fans, and the 6 count is here.
So, I validate the Heins option ! (and no one cares lol).

I would love a touch or slider with no camera (for work). So far it's pretty much the Bold and Curve that can be had sans camera, but I would love a bigger screen.

I wouldn't mind the one or two handsets to rule them all. I think RIM could make a killing off of companion devices/accessories. A home master dock that replace what we use old laptops for now (media, kitchen inventory, automation, etc.) Car dock that fully incorporates the car's onboard computer added to what we're seeing in QNX car demos. If nothing else, a home computer running on qnx that is fully compatible with all of RIM's devices. I would liken it to Microsoft's Home of the Future concept they had a while back.

As long as all 6 BB10 phones are running the exact same OS I don't see why RIM shouldn't release that many... I would just hate to see a cheap-er end BB go on sale that can barely run BB10 purely because of hardware... that would kinda suck.

Also, if down the road RIM tried to broaden their horizons, I wouldn't be terribly opposed to a sort of blackberry-android hybrid phone...

A BB hardware design, including exclusive BBM integration into the Android OS? That might be kinda cool...

JUST spouting ideas! I'm still a BB fan at heart, but I do have a thing for the Android(Samsung OR Nexus only) line-up too. :P

Heins repetitively said that their common factor was the ability to run BB10 seamlessly. And there's no hybrid option.

Samsung (and to a lesser extent, LG and Motorola) may be the only device manufacturers who CAN employ a business model with a large variety of devices. Samsung has the chip manufacturing facilities etc. while RIM has to outsource all of that. Pushing funds from one business unit to another is different from a revenue perspective than having to pay a third party out of pocket for everything they do to build your plethora of devices.

Also, if you look at the Samsung line, they aren't really all that different... they may LOOK different, but there are only so many feature / hardware combinations that are even sensible. Sure, you could have the cheapest phone have a 2 megapixel camera, no front camera, then a slightly more expensive one with a 2 megapixel camera and a VGA front camera, then step up to a 3 megapixel back camera but still having a VGA front camera etc. etc. but in Samsung's case they give them different looks and names at, at the end of the day, it is price conscious shoppers not so concerned about the capabilities of the device other than "camera: check. Android: check. Touchscreen: check". Ever notice that the truly HUGELY profitable / successful devices are the TOP of the line ones, not the mid-tier or bottom ones... it's the SIII, the top of the line device, that is accounting for most of Sammy's success (at least that's the impression I get) so I don't really think that a multitude of mid- to low-end devices will actually result in more profit. 2 REALLY GOOD mid- to low- end devices with BB10 will be a hit, I'm sure.

And, couldn't RIM continue to sell BB7 devices to low-end markets? Why discontinue those devices if they're profitable and users could communicate with BB10 users without issue? It would give the BB7 developers a few more years of potential App World relevance, and they wouldn't complain about that.

This is exactly what I was thinking as well, have 3 high end phones, an all touch model, a qwerty model like the 9900, and a slider model like the torch, then for low end devices just sell bb7 devices.

I don't think RIMs problem was that they made too many different models, there problem was that they made to many different models that were pretty much all sub par at best. The reason to have a different line up of phones is to have different classes of phones in regards to performance, there should be high end, mid level, and then low end.

I think what RIM needs to do to win back the market is have 3 different models, an all touch model, a keyboard model with touch like the 9900, and then a slider model. And they should all be high end, because anything less will get them negative attention. They just need different form factors to meet the different demands of consumers. And this is something that Apple and Samsung aren't really doing, they are just making all touch phones with higher and lower end internal components.

I think 6 phones would be good. I just hope a slider makes the cut. I love my Torch 9810. If I'm emailing and texting heavily it's great to have the keyboard. I wish it was as big as the Bold's but beggars can't be choosers. If I'm light browsing on the web or using other apps, I like the touch screen whith the slider closed. If I'm wanting to multitask I'll leave the slider open and use the touch screen in conjunction with the shortcut keys assigned by the app and blackberry option button. I'll miss this, and the trackpad as I use it all the time switching between apps. But after BB10 gets here I'll long forget it.

I agree with the model numbers. Just use the name for the family of phones and put little emphasis on the 4-digit model number. It makes no sense to potential customers but only helps current ones identify updates, software and accessories compatible to their phones.

I saw a rendering a while back for a slider that was thin and curved. I wish that phone would make it to production.

The only issues I have with the Torch is the thickness and the smaller QWERTY. Other than that this phone blows all my other blackberrys and smartphones out of the water. BB10 will be awesome! I can't wait.

BB by Choice.

the one phone model that apple currently uses would not be sustainable for RIM which I've been against this whole time.

80 million of those subscribers aren't all high end device users or at least the highest model that RIM offer.

cutting down the devices models is understandable but even cutting it down to 2 or 3 is still cutting out the lower end market.

great article.

I would say that the "ideal/typical" Apple customer would buy the iPhone regardless of what color, size, button configuration it came with. Whatever Apple is going to put in the iPhone, they are going buy it anyway. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It's just the way it is. And Apple has been very successful selling the same handheld to a lot of people under that model.

The ideal BlackBerry has specific needs/desires and are looking for something that will meet those needs. They are going to be more critical than the Apple user. They aren't going to buy something just because of the flavor of fruit that's on the back. I believe that a wider variety of phones are going to serve more of those customers better.

I'm just making generalizations, not trying to say every user is one way or another. But, I think that a more critical consumer is going to choose something that more specifically meets their needs.

i would say about 6/7 devices because variety is good. however if RIM does take this root they need to make sure they don't over do it like Samsung does. off the top of your head just how many ''galaxy'' branded models are there? too many to count i can tell you that.