I just received this email from one our readers (thanks for sending it in Erik!) and felt it needed to be shared and responded to here as I think it does address a lot of frustrations that our readers are feeling this week:
I'm writing you because I consider Crackberry to be the #1 source of Blackberry news and commentary.
We're approaching 3 months since RIM Announced the Bold 9900, and we still don't have a release date. We were told at their AGM on July 12 that seven OS 7 devices were now coming, but with ZERO details. When Jim Balsillie actually said, "I'll do anything to make you sleep better," to shareholders, no one frankly had the balls to stand up and demand to see something tangible. Demand to see at least a couple of these seven devices while the whole world was watching. I personally would have stood up and screamed it if I was there!
My point is that if you look at the comments of Crackberry's recent articles, 90% of them reflect anger and frustration to RIM's vagueness and total lack of information, along with their history of flagrant delays. Crackberry and many other media outlets (even MSNBC) ran with this fan night tweet claiming that RIM would announce most or all of the so called seven phones yesterday. When it turned out to be nothing but a local gathering in Toronto, Crackberry made no mention of the monumental letdown that it contributed to.
I strongly feel that you owe all of us an article on this subject. Something direct and to the point, without beating around the bush. Again, it's not RIM bashing, it's accurate reporting. This notion that RIM is trying to protect sales of their ancient inventory at this point is no longer valid, as anyone who buys an OS 5 or 6 device today will not be able to buy an OS 7 device "later", as there's something in the industry known as CONTRACTS. One sale now voids that potential sale in the future.
Look at recent article comments! Look at your forums! Give us an accurate article that all of the Blackberry loyal deserve!
Erik raises some really valid points here that I will address straight up to him and I'm sure it will make for interesting discussion (so feel free to sound off after in the comments with your thoughts). So here's my response to Erik....
Thanks for the email! My thoughts (apologies in advance for the rambling... lots to get done so typing this out fast)...
Re: the AGM and officially seeing other BB7 devices sooner. RIM did actually have Bold 9900s on hand at the AGM (along with PlayBooks) for people on hand to test out and use. Look, RIM could have announced every BB7 device at BlackBerry World, but only chose to do one because of the time to market issue and not wanting to overhang sales of existing in-market devices. They needed to show investors and analysts what the new hardware platform looks like. They did that by showing off the 9900/9930. Also showing off the new Torches (essentially the same device as 9900 just on different form factors) and Curve wouldn't have added any value here other than to potentially further hurt sales of existing in-market devices.
I agree with you that from a pure-consumer standpoint this completely sucks... especially for anybody who's going to buy a BlackBerry right now on contract and be stuck with it while new BBs are about to hit (you know that person's next phone in turn probably won't be a BB), but that issue will always exist in retail (same issue for people who buy an iPhone 4 the week before Apple announces an iPhone 5). That's why people need to do their research on sites like CrackBerry and make a wise purchase decision and not just walk into a store and buy something relatively blind on info. I do feel bad for the people who are buying BBs right now with so much better ones coming out just around the corner. My advice is to wait for the new stuff. But standing up at at the AGM and screaming to demand to see BB 7 devices I don't feel would have added much value to the current situation... plus, look at all the leaks we've seen of everything... 10 seconds on crackberry or google and anybody who wants to see them, will see them. The saying buyer beware exists for a reason... necessity.
I think the thing to also understand here is that RIM WANTS ALL THESE NEW BB7 DEVICES ON SALE YESTERDAY (or even longer, as in since early 2011). I think people at RIM, like Co-CEO Jim Balsillie are just as frustrated as we all our with the fact we're all waiting for these new phones to hit the market. I'm pretty sure they are folk at RIM saying, damn, if we would have post-poned the PlayBook a bit and gotten these BB7 devices to market first, we'd be wayyy further ahead right now (whether or not that would have made a difference to where RIM is at today I'm not sure of - I think it can be argued both ways). Heck, that's why Jim brought Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis onto the last investor's call... to take the fall for the slow rollout of these new devices.
I personally don't think RIM sees it as wanting to sell out inventory channels of existing product before introducing new products. YES.. that problem may exist (and likely does), but it's actually the carriers in this case, not RIM, who would be delaying the release of the devices if that were the hold up. The problem as it was relayed by Mike L on the last investors call was that it was technical acceptance holding up the devices. If the actual problem is AT&T is sitting on a bunch of Torch 9800s so they have no interest right now in selling the Torch 2 (etc. etc. per other carriers/devices), I'm not sure what RIM is able to do about this in the short term other than wait with the rest of us... do they buy back and write-down unsold inventory to make room for new phones? Do carriers just continue to promote in-market devices until it makes sense to start moving next-gen stuff? Is this even an issue right now (on the record RIM has just said it's a technical acceptance thing with the new BB7 OS, and once one carrier certifies a device the rest will follow suit quick).
It seems like from a RIM standpoint they're ready to go on selling these BB7 devices... hence the meetup in Toronto next week showing them off. I feel it's less RIM protecting in channel sales vs. it just being a business issue that has to get dealt with. We have seen quite a bit of release date info floating around (and some been sent into CrackBerry), and it seems pretty clear that for the carriers that are carrying multiple devices of the new BB7 models, that the release dates will be closely tied together. For example, the latest info we had on Rogers was August 20th, 25th, 30th for the Bold 9900, Torch 9860 and Curve 9360, respectively. So we should be just weeks away now from seeing these new devices hit. And for people who are on carriers that for whatever reason may be slower to release the new BB7 devices, we'll just have to make sure we're educating people on how easy it is to unlock and use a BB on another carrier!
Regarding the whole False Tweet/Facebook thing this week: Yeah, I'm just as ticked off as you are here. Put it this way... I sent an email to Adam and Chris on Monday night saying let's all make sure we're awake and at our computers early in case RIM shoots off these device press releases at 6am. In re-reading the RIM tweet and their Facebook status update, I definitely feel RIM's social media team made a bad call on this one. I think they didn't realize just how much everybody out there is waiting on official announcements, so a teaser like this was taken to mean that the real deal was coming... not the announcement of a Fan night and a Facebook update (that's what the Facebook status update was referring to when it said "Hey Team BlackBerry, what's shiny, new and social all over? We want to tell you all about it. Can you guess what it might be? Tune in tomorrow for details!" Seriously.. I guess the word social was the tip off here that they were annnouncing a Facebook update, but when jonesing BlackBerry fans see shiny and new and BlackBerry in a sentence they think phones).I guess we could have/should have followed up with a post on this sooner saying WTF?!... but I guess you can consider this the follow-up response to that now. Our bad. We'll work harder!
I think that addresses your main points in your email. On the RIM standpoint, I share your frustration and wish we had clearer direct info, especially on release dates. With the BB Fan night coming next week, it only makes sense that they'd officially start announcing other new BB 7 devices, so hopefully between now and then we see that happen. And hopefully we also see carriers announce some dates soon. I think the best thing here is the fact there's so many people PASSIONATE on knowing this info. It shows there's still a lot of love and demand for BB, even though the general media message seems to be on the contrary lately. Maybe the solution here is to get me on RIM's Board of Directors at next year's AGM... I'll make sure as a company RIM does a better job on this type of stuff! Do you own a bunch of shares by chance? Let's vote me in!
Thanks again for the email, and here's to hoping we can some more info and new BB7 devices SOON,
PS. Anymore questions shoot them in the comments here, and I'll chime in as best as I can with responses.