This afternoon Forbes posted an article titled RIMM: No Qwerty BB Device Until June, Analyst Says. The headline caught my attention as, well, that would be horrendously horrible if it were true. Forbes staff writer Eric Savitz wrote the article based on a research note that was published earlier that day to its clients by Boston-based research firm, Detwiler Fenton.
In my many years of covering BlackBerry news I have never heard of Detwiler Fenton before, so was a little surprised to see Forbes allow this kind of headline to be published based off a report from some analyst who has zero history on dropping RIM rumor bombs with no fact checking beyond that.
Upon reading the Forbes post I immediately reached out to RIM for clarification, and received the following...
Details of the commercial availability for BlackBerry 10 will be announced at the global launch events on January 30. Our executives have made it clear that the touch screen device will be available shortly after launch with the physical keyboard version to follow shortly after that.
RIM obviously isn't going to state the availability date -- there's a launch event coming soon that'll take care of that -- but it's pretty obvious that you'll be able to buy a qwerty BlackBerry 10 phone before June 2013. As noted in the RIM statement, RIM execs have been on record plenty of times now saying the physical keyboard model will follow shortly behind the full touchscreen model.
Think back to our interviews with RIM's CEO and CMO, and they confirmed that. CEO Thorsten Heins told us that when RIM pushed back the launch date of the first BlackBerry 10 phone, the shift in timeline did not interfere with the planned launch of the qwerty version of the phone, but in fact compressed the launch time frame between the two devices. And CMO Frank Boulben told us what to expect at the BlackBerry 10 launch event. He told us both the full touchscreen and physical keyboard versions will be announced at the same time, but with separate launch dates attached to them, with the full touchscreen coming first and full qwerty coming soon after. But when it comes to marketing BlackBerry 10, you'll likely see both devices marketed together. There's just no way you'd see RIM announce the qwerty BlackBerry 10 phone on January 30th and then say it'll be available in June. Let's also remember that I already played with a working version of the qwerty literally months ago (I would have handed over $$ to buy one then) and the Dev Alpha C is just around the corner.
Also, if a rumor of a delay like this had any real truth to it... it would be material. RIM's share price stayed pretty flat today, which makes me think the street's B.S. detectors went off just the same as they did for me on this one.