Are Unsold BlackBerrys Piling Up?

from the who-to-believe dept

When Research In Motion announced the settlement of its patent dispute with NTP, it also said the fight had hurt its sales, and it followed that revenue warning with another one last week. Now, some observers are seizing on the disappointing figures to point out the growing gap between the number of BlackBerry devices RIM sells wholesale and the number of new subscribers it signs up — for instance, in the quarter ended March 4, RIM shipped 1.12 million devices, but added just 625,000 new subscribers. The company, which gets 70 percent of its revenues from device sales, says the gap is down to current subscribers upgrading their devices, but can’t produce any specific data to back the assertion up. Perhaps seeing roughly 10% of all BlackBerry subscribers replace their device each quarter isn’t so high, but if replacement sales are such an important part of RIM’s business — about a third of revenues, if the entire gap between device sales and new subs is made up of existing users replacing their devices — wouldn’t they want to have some solid data on it? The only bear cited in the article has shorted RIM and has investments in two of its competitors, so he’s got an interest in seeing RIM’s share price drop, but the company doesn’t do a real convincing job of explaining itself, either.

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Comments on “Are Unsold BlackBerrys Piling Up?”

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Permanent4 (profile) says:

Blackberries aren't sexy.

Blackberries are still plain black devices more suited for business use than personal use. RIM needs to strike some more deals with web mail companies — Gmail, especially — and start producing more devices like this.

When Blackberry Connect is available to anyone with a Gmail or Yahoo Mail account and comes inside a nifty flip phone with 2-megapixel camera, MP3 player and 3G wireless speeds, I’ll think about it. A RAZRberry that’s an actual RAZR? That will sell.

nex says:

RIM doesn’t need webmail companies… BB already support any form of webmail that uses the POP3 or SMTP protocol. You would know if you had one… Putting it into a small flip phone would actually eliminate the whole purpose of the device. Tell me how a numeric keypad compares to a QWERTY keyboard? obviously Perm, you have no idea what your talking about…

Just another guy says:

Re: T9 Predictive Text???

Please, I’m just as fast with predictive text as anyone is on a QWERTY, actually faster quite often, it takes the same number of key strokes for 90% of words and it makes for a much sleeker device. Right on though about the POP3/SMTP thing though, I was gonna comment on that until I saw you beat me to it

Anonymous Coward says:

Too many bugs

I was thinking about getting a Blackberry until we got them at work. They’ve been nothing but headaches with problems like failing to receive calls until a call is first placed from the BB and then incoming works fine, missing emails by minimum 20 minutes and sometimes hours, and some units that turn off the RF part by themselves for no reason.

My boss come in screaming one morning because he couldn’t reach anyone because the damn thing had turned off the RF. NOBODY in the office would have had a clue about how to do that if they had wanted to do it. The device did it on its own.

Email delays are another issue. When a client emails or calls our on-call people, the escalation clock starts when the call is made or the email is sent to the Blackberry, not when the damn Blackberry finally decides to cough up the email a hour later. The delays are killing our 30-minute SLAs and pissing off our clients.

The Blackberries are mostly useful as a status symbol at company meetings. “OH look at Jeff. HE has a Blackberry so he must be important. I should go chat him up.”

Nah. Jeff’s got a paperweight that he has to carry 24/7. Or else. And it’s his fault if it fails to function correctly even though he’s got nothing to do with that.

Anyway, RIM should aim for the consumer market if they want to sell some hardware. But consumers are not going to pay $400 for a Blackberry PLUS the data plan to go with it. God help them if they DON’T pay for data and start racking up per-kb charges for email and web. HAH.

What’s stopping them is that most people don’t see the need for portable email. Why pay for a text message or email when there’s plenty of free minutes to just make a voice call?

Rob Mayfield says:

Re: Too many bugs

… hit the nail on the head – wheres the need ? I tried one for a while and went back to a simple mobile, it was painful to use and an unneccessary invasion on my time – it effectively connected me to the office everywhere I went. I’ve worked with techno-dills who think this is cool and convince themselves that they need it to function. Sad thing is that these walking ‘personality-free-zones’ probably have become dependent on them. I look forward to the day when they perfect the rectal network implant so these pseudo-geeks can be online, locked in a closet and drip-fed while the rest of us lead happy lives without having to watch for zombies walking around eyes glued to screens rather than where they are going … 😉

Ex-BB-User says:

No looking back...

As a dedicated BBerry user since 1999, with numerous devices in my “used cell phone” drawer (the most recent being the 7105t), I’m done with the things for good. The reason the phones are starting to pile up is the same reason Palm eventually lost out to other devices….they are no longer that “special,” and frankly, the constant buzz of the thing makes me feel like I’m wearing a damn leash.

My newest phone/PDA combo is a Tmobile MDA. It’s not a Bberry…I miss the one-handed usage. But with GPRS/EDGE/WiFi and a full keyboard I can do anything with it that I could do with my Bberry -AND- faster. The loss of the proprietary Bberry OS, which NEVER drew much in the way of popular 3rd party development, was what finally tipped me out of the Bberry camp. I can get push email without having to maintain the dedicated BES on my servers, and frankly, the ability to just synch up every 15 minutes (or whenever I choose) is favorable to me to the “just in time” emails. It’s email!!! It can wait!

Bberry is losing ground for the same reason every other technology loses ground. They sat back on their fat haunches and didn’t innovate themselves. They are still using the same basic business model they did at inception and the bigger players out there (M$oft) are out-innovating them. They spent all their dough on defending lawsuits they could’ve paid off a long time ago when they should have been investing heavier in R&D and meeting consumer demand for instant messaging, SMS texting, etc. They stuck with corporate life and, just like the fat dinosaurs they serve, they too are feeling the bite of evolution.

I don’t miss mine. My replacement isn’t perfect, but I feel it’s better than what I had….and I had the best Bberry had to offer.

jlc says:

Can't agree with that

I have just changed from an Orange SPV windows mobile device to a Blackberry 8707v (3G!).

I chose the Windows Mobile device, exactly for the reasons stated above. It does a lot more: Phone, Email, PIM, MP3 player, video, internet browsing, camera and more but the truth is you can’t really use it for at least the following reasons: inadapted keyboard, small screen, limited storage, limited bandwidth and short battery.

Predictive text is very poor on Windows Mobile contrary to Nokia and do not even think of it if like me, you work in several languages. So I would rather have a qwerty keyboard.

With such a small screen, reading email attachments is cumbersome and they will eat you bandwidth anyway so I would rather not have them.

Camera and MP3 player are nice to have but you cannot do much even with a 1GB SD card, so I’ll keep my IPod and my Sony cybershot for what they do best.

And if despite the low quality of these features on a Windows Mobile phone you still use them, the battery won’t last long. The battery would not last an entire day on my Orange SPV.

So, I am very happy with the Blackberry. It certainly does less but it still does it better. And with push email requiring the AKU2 and a Microsoft Exchange mailbox for Widnows Mobile, I think it is going to be another couple of years before Windows Mobile phones can really compete with the Blackberry in teh enterprise.

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