On a day when shares of Research In Motion closed almost 10% down after the company adjusted its forecast, the timing feels right to take a look at what's in store for RIM in 2012 on the BBX device front. As Chris pointed out in his finance editorial earlier today following up on RIM's announcement, it's fairly clear that BlackBerry 7 Smartphones, while doing ok, are not quite the cash cow RIM was hoping for. 2012 needs to be a year dominated by hot selling BBX devices.
As for BlackBerry 7 Smartphones, with the recent releases of the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380, we are now caught up on the BlackBerry 2011 Roadmap we posted way back in early February of this year. Between the Bold 9930/9900/9790, Torch 9860/9850/9810, Curve 9380/9370/9360 and the exclusive P'9981, there's really no shortage of BlackBerry 7 Smartphones to choose from.
But what's 2012 going to look like for BBX?
There is still a ton we don't know, but we're hearing enough things now that the picture is becoming a little more clear. Of course we're all familiar with and have seen the photo of BlackBerry "London" (formerly Colt), the first BBX phone that is expected to be announced in 2012 featuring the BBX operating system and a full touchscreen display.
The latest we heard is that London is currently targeting an early March launch (March 13th specifically, but internal launch targets are just that - targets, so we wouldn't put much weight on that kind of specific... I personally am not so sure on this March time frame). We're hoping to see the first BBX phone get unveiled at CES coming up in January in Las Vegas, but if the target is March or later and knowing that things tend to get pushed back vs. pushed forward, I'm not so sure anymore. If that's the case, CES may be more of a PlayBook OS 2.0 relaunch (maybe we'll see some partner announcements finally) and BBX phone unveilings may come a month or two later. I'll keep my fingers crossed though.
Of course RIM will do more than one BBX device in 2012. Other codenames for upcoming BlackBerry devices we're starting to hear about include "Lisbon," "Milan," "Nevada," and "Black Forest."
The same info has BlackBerry Milan slated for late March after London and it sounds like this one might be hitting AT&T/Rogers, but we're not totally sure on the deal here (and again, take these time frames with a grain of salt - they may be referring to internal targets vs. customer launches). Internally the codename for London is R072 and Milan is R071, so it could be that it's the same device from a hardware design perspective with London going to Verizon and Milan going to AT&T.
We're not totally sure what BlackBerry Lisbon is yet, but it's one more we're on the look out for. Maybe a BBX slider? Or maybe Milan is a slider and Lisbon is the GSM counterpart to London?
As for BlackBerry Nevada, that'll be the dream device for many of us BlackBerry addicts. BlackBerry Nevada is rumored to be a full qwerty BBX phone with a form factor similar to the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Hopefully it'll get a slightly taller display to make extra room for all that touchy BBX goodness. The sad news here is that we're currently hearing this one won't hit until later in 2012 (November).
And as for Black Forest, well, we're hearing that's actually a 10" PlayBook! When we originally heard about RIM working on a 10" PlayBook, it was essentially a sized up version of the 7" PlayBook (same basic shape, etc.). And that 10" PlayBook got scrapped. More recently I heard about a 10" another BlackBerry PlayBook design, but the description was a lot different -- it had sharp angles vs. rounded corners. When the first photo of BlackBerry London surfaced, it became clear that that device was definitely of the same design language as the new 10" PlayBook I had heard of prior to that.
RIM stated again today that they are committed to tablets, so it makes sense that we'll see a new tablet from RIM before 2012 is out. A 10" PlayBook with that sharp angle design that the BlackBery London photos showed off could be pretty awesome!
What's also interesting here is what we haven't been hearing about yet, and that's codenames or info relating to upcoming BlackBerry 7 (or 7.1 or 8?!) Smartphones. RIM has said in the past that the transition to BBX won't be a straight cutover and that the BlackBerry OS will have a life for a while (especially in emerging markets), but it'll be interesting to see if RIM supports that BBOS existence with new BlackBerry OS hardware in 2012 or if they just continue to push the already in-market BlackBerry 7 Smartphones for as long as they can while they introduce BBX devices to the market.
It's going to be interesting to watch 2012 unfold for Research In Motion. On a day like today things are looking not so great for the company, but knowing there's a whole new BlackBerry Smartphone (or SuperPhone) experience just around the corner has me and the Crack Team super excited for 2012. As always, we'll be here day in and day out to cover it all.
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