Let me preface by saying that, although I wish it were easier to compare, any of these numbers can't really go head to head for various reasons. The fact that the devices may be held up for one reason or another on various carriers means that there is not "set in stone" reason as to why some devices take longer than others to hit their release date. Obviously any company always wants to announce their product and push it out as soon as possible. The BlackBerry Torch release is a prime example. RIM announced the device and made is available in just 9 days, the quickest of any recent BlackBerry device launch.
This can't be done in all cases however and is noted by the BlackBerry Bold 9900. RIM had to announce a device at BlackBerry World and the Bold 9900/9930 just happened to be the chosen one. It makes sense that they would only announce one device so as not to kill off any sales of existing devices in the process. If the new Torch or Curve line were also announced, there would be no incentive for new users or those looking to upgrade to get a new device, and instead they would wait for these to hit the market. Any remaining stock of current devices would just sit and wait and that would be a bad thing for RIM. That being said, lets take a look back at some of the more popular devices and the time it took them to hit the market after being officially announced by Research In Motion.
Examining the BlackBerry release timeline
Let's start from the bottom and work our way up. Obviously one of the most recent releases, the BlackBerry Torch 9800, was a much anticipated device that had a fairly smooth launch overall. We heard endless rumors about the Torch but for the most part there weren't too many leaked devices floating around prior to the device actually being released. RIM held a launch party (if you could call it that - it was more of an announcement party) for the Torch in New York at which they showed off their first touchscreen/QWERTY combo as well as announced an AT&T release date of just 9 days later. This is the quickest announcement to launch of any device in recent memory and was helped out by the fact that AT&T was the exclusive carrier at launch.
Next up the line is the BlackBerry Curve 3G which comes in with just 11 days between announcement and launch. While not the most talked about device, the Curve 3G (as well as the entire Curve series) is still one of the best selling BlackBerry Smartphones. We seem to not get too excited when it comes to Curve talk for the most part, but with the next generation Curve and Curve touch on the way, the series should get a bit of love in the coming months.
The BlackBerry Bold 9650 was a big step for CDMA users as it brought a much needed upgrade to the BlackBerry Tour 9630. While many users (myself included) thought the Bold 9650 was what the Tour should have been, it was still a pretty big device for RIM. The Bold 9650 took 20 days from announcement to launch as many CDMA users waiting anxiously for their much needed device upgrades. Sadly this was the last "big" CDMA device we've seen in over a year from RIM.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 was the followup to the much loved BlackBerry Bold 9700. While the 9700 was (and still is) a well loved device all around, the Bold 9780 was a welcomed upgrade for users all around. The Bold 9780 took just 21 days to launch as it made its way to Rogers in Canada followed a few days later by T-Mobile in the USA. While we've yet to see it come to AT&T (as we originally thought it would) we've now turned to new devices for the carrier.
Rewind now to 2008. The elusive Bold that Kevin managed to snag off eBay became a huge hit before it even hit the market. The "Cadillac of BlackBerry smartphones" was all over the place and everyone was anxious to get a look at the sexiest BlackBerry to date. After the rumor buzz died off, the device was announced on May 12th 2008, but it wasn't until August (102 days later) that the Bold 9000 finally made it's way to Rogers in Canada. If you remember it took even longer to hit AT&T in the states as it was held up for various reasons. The Bold 9000 didn't land until mid-November, putting it close to the 200+ days (here in the US) that it took the PlayBook to see the light of day. This also puts it at the top of the list for the longest announcement to release of all devices - sans PlayBook of course.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is the "exception" in the sense that it was RIMs first tablet entry and there were no other device like it from RIM already on the market. The PlayBook took a whopping 204 days from announcement to hit store shelves. There was no fear of announcing the device early as RIM had no other tablet sales to worry about. In the case of phones there is always the need to unload the current devices before introducing new ones, however for the PlayBook this was not an issue as they had no other tablets at the time. RIM again had to announce a device at their BlackBerry Developers Conference and surprised everyone with the BlackBerry PlayBook and not a new handheld device. 204 days later we finally saw it available to consumers, making it the longest announcement to launch in RIM history.
So here we are now, anxiously awaiting the release of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 (and a few other devices that haven't yet been officially announced) and we're already 66 days since the official announcement and still not one step closer to having the devices. The original press release did say "summer" regarding a release, but unfortunately we don't have much else to go on here. Historically we can't really compare one device launch to another since there are so many variables in each situation, but the Bold 9900/9930 is shaping up to be one of the longest yet. Granted when the devices finally do see the light of day and make their way to consumers, the other next-gen devices like the BlackBerry Curve 9360, Torch 9810 and others will surely be following very quickly. All of these devices will need to hit market before the end of the year, so the longer we wait without hearing about them, the closer we get to an actual release. In an ideal world devices would be pushed out as quickly as possible after an official announcement (yes like Apple products) but sadly we don't live in an ideal world.
So my fingers are crossed that we'll see the latest BlackBerry devices hit the street before too much longer. RIM has taken a beating as of late, but I'm hopeful that they'll get their stuff together and do things right now. There is a lot more life left for RIM but they need to starting cranking out the hardware. Once we see the full spat of OS 7 devices we'll be holding out for the QNX superphones we're told are on the way.