BlackBerry 7: Already Dead?

RIM announced two new BlackBerry Torch models today, along with the first release of BlackBerry 7 phones, and no one seems to care.

That’s because BlackBerry 7 is not what the company needs right now. The company needs its next generation OS, ONX, on its phones.

The new BlackBerry Torch 9810 looks exactly like the previous 9800, AT&T even had to release a chart to tell the difference of the two.

BlackBerry 7 has a role. RIM’s core business customers need to replace dying phones with something compatible, and RIM needs an OS to run messaging phones for the next several years. But a RIM that relies on BlackBerry 7 just becomes the world’s biggest provider of cheap texting devices.

Organizationally, RIM seems to be in disarray. The company is laying off staff, executives are leaving, and its stock price and North American market share are in free fall. The company knows it’s in trouble, as evidenced by the open letters executives have been sending out.

Let me add that this is one of the most poorly organized device launches I’ve seen in months. The devices were leaked months ago, but today’s launch came as a surprise to many in the press and even to some of RIM’s partners. It wasn’t a good Apple-style surprise, either. (Apple warns people that a surprise is coming, so they’re properly prepared for it.)

The BlackBerry PlayBook is running RIM’s QNX OS, but it isn’t driving conversation. After receiving lukewarm reviews, RIM shipped (not sold) a half-million units in the first quarter, which sounds good until you hear Apple sold (not shipped) 4.7 million iPads in a similar time frame. Discussion of the PlayBook seems to have faded in favor of the relentless drumbeat of Android tablet announcements.

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