1. JPMorgan_'s Avatar
    It’s BlackBerry’s time to shine


    BERKELEY, Calif. (MarketWatch) — If there was ever a turnaround candidate in the handset business, it has to be Research In Motion Ltd., which still hopes to compete in the smartphone game with a new offering expected this quarter.

    Photos have been leaked of a new RIM (US:RIMM) phone which shows pretty much what every smartphone now looks like — a rectangular object with a black screen and no buttons.

    RIM had made earlier failed attempts at the full touch-screen phone concept — the BlackBerry Storm in 2008 — right in the midst of iPhone mania part one. It got nowhere and it retreated.

    Then right in the middle of iPad mania, it tried to do a tablet called the PlayBook.

    Of all the tablets on the market, the PlayBook was the most useless because it needed to attach to a Blackberry phone to do email. Bad timing with a bad product doesn’t make for success.

    It was this last gaffe that slammed the company as it retreated into what it did best: make little keyboard phones that you could type on fast.

    What has always been missing from the equation is the fact that BlackBerry users liked their BlackBerrys and liked the little keyboard. How do you keep these customers?

    I have a wild solution for RIM. Make a thin phone with a traditional keyboard and little screen on one side of the phone and a full screen smartphone on the other side of the phone. Voila! Finder’s fee anyone?

    RIM will have to do something that radical to get back in the game, although I have noticed an interesting trend as die-hard BlackBerry and feature phone users slowly move to smartphones. It appears as if a lot of these people do not like smartphones at all.

    They find apps to be confusing and difficult to figure out. They cannot understand downloading. They think some of the features are just dumb.

    And people who do a lot of business on their phones complain bitterly about no keyboard.

    I’ve always believed that the smartphone of the future will be the cheap disposable phone because it will eventually be cheap to make. There are no moving parts, just a screen, a cheap processor and some memory. At some point the cost of manufacturing has got to fall to $5.

    Right now I’m told the cheapest you can make a good multiband smartphone is about $40 worth of parts. This has got to drop to nothing in the next few years.

    And there are no moving parts.

    From what I can tell, the main flaw in the iPhone is the actual button. My son has an iPhone with a button that stopped working making the phone unusable.

    Now it is possible that RIM could bring out a dumb smartphone that will satisfy the people who do not like smartphones and also satisfy the smartphone users who loved their BlackBerrys. But the RIM missteps, especially the PlayBook, indicate otherwise.

    From my experience, you don’t suddenly start getting everything right after getting so much wrong. So, I’d be cautious about speculating in the stock until real progress is shown.

    It?s BlackBerry?s time to shine - MarketWatch
    01-08-13 01:30 AM

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