So here’s what we know so far: coming from a fairly reliable source (who broke the news on the BlackBerry 8700 way back when), we have a grainy picture of a BlackBerry that is set to be released some time in November or December. Very similar in design to the 7130c, the BlackBerry “Stealth” looks to be a SureType device with MP3 music capability, removable memory, EDGE network support and a thumbpad (this will most likely not replace the scrollwheel, but instead be used for dedicated music controls). The Stealth sounds fairly similar to the “lifestyle” line of devices RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis mentioned during WES 2006, although it’s missing the Wi-Fi and integrated GPS he talked about (let’s not get started about camera functionality). Are we here at BlackBerry Cool the only ones looking for more?
Some BlackBerry Cool staff have recently picked up the 7130g, and the only thing that would make us get rid of it would be a 713x BlackBerry with removable memory and MP3 features (if the price was right). The Stealth will also appeal to, like the 7130, prosumers and enterprise users who want RIM’s email functionality in a more palatable handset than your average BlackBerry. However, this is a very small segment of smartphone users, and doesn’t even begin to tap into the general populace of handset consumers. Assuming the Stealth is about the same size and price (200 USD with a two-year contract), the average consumer will look at this device and say: “So what? It’s clunky and doesn’t even have a camera. My RAZR has a camera. I’m just going to get a Q.”
Now, we should still wait for the other shoe to drop. For the past three years, RIM has released a non-SureType BlackBerry in the fourth quarter; in 2005 it was the 8700, in 2004 it was the 7290 and in 2003 it was the 7280. We can therefore reasonably expect an 87xx lifestyle BlackBerry to arrive before the end of the year, hopefully with the Wi-Fi, GPS and improved video features the Stealth is lacking (UMTS network support wouldn’t hurt either). This will put RIM’s consumer offerings on more even footing with chic devices like the Q, but it will still most likely not have a camera.