ThoughtPiece: How Successful Will The Pearl Be?

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BlackBerry Pearl

For many of us BlackBerry enthusiasts there are 2 questions on our minds these days:

1) When will I be able to get my hands on a BB Pearl?
2) Just how successful will the Pearl be in the consumer market?

Depending on your geographic location, choice of carrier, and your budget, you may already know the answer to question 1, but let’s try a bit of analysis on question 2.

Early Reaction

The early reaction among technophiles who have read about the device has been almost unanimously positive. Many of the diehard BB fans have been won over already. Of course, early adopters are a small percentage of the overall market, but can be very influential in establishing positive word of mouth.

I also take it as a positive sign that the person most in the forefront of supplying us with information on the Pearl, the estimable Boy Genius, has had mostly very kind comments on the performance and design of the unit. Here’s one comment by BG on BlackBerry Forums that sums it up:

“If you can deal with SureType it is the best Blackberry so far…if you can’t deal with SureType, then…it’s still pretty hot.”

The Boy Genius Analysis

I must admit that I had this article mostly composed when some of my thinking was challenged by an article that Boy Genius posted on Endgadget Mobile with his analysis of the sales potential for the Pearl. After reading all of his high praise for the device over the past few weeks, I was surprised to read something like this:

“I just think that for the people RIM is targeting with this device, they won’t see results like RIM hopes.”

If it had been anyone else I would have dismissed it, but the Boy Genius has earned such great credibility that his remarks deserve consideration.

BlackBerry Pearl

If you read that article you notice that BG positions the device mostly as going for the younger market against the Sidekick in terms of competition for customers. In a continued discussion of the article on BlackBerry Forums BG further explains:

“How can you convert a 16 yr. old girl who uses a sidekick to buying a blackberry with no direct marketing towards that age group? She saw Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton in a commercial and then was like hmm, it’s cool, it’s cute I want it.”

I assume that BG believes that the target market for the device is largely the teen to early 20’s market, where instant messaging is more important than email. BG asserts that the Pearl will not do so well with this market, due to a lack of marketing towards that age group and a lack of a good built-in IM client.

I believe the best response to BG is supplied by “shaun76” on Blackberry Forums who replied:

“I think there is a large number of 30 somethings that will love this phone, and be waiting at tmob’s door on the 12th. Just my opinion that RIM is going after us instead of the sidekick generation.”

Read on in that thread and you will see that most agree with Shaun, and that brings me to my point.

  • http://www.yista.com/ George Burnett

    I am in complete agreement with you on the marketability of the BB Pearl! This device at first glance is a Sidekick competitor… a toy that isn’t to be taken serious amongst the BB Fanboys of the world. Yet a second glance at this device uncovers a certain “glamour / business” appeal. “RAZR vs. 7130e”

    Once the younger generations pic up on the functionality of todays BB devices and mix it with celebrity icons & RAZRish style this device could be a real hit!

    As a late 20′s 8700c user I am seriously considering purchasing a BB Pearl myself.

  • http://www.yista.com George Burnett

    I am in complete agreement with you on the marketability of the BB Pearl! This device at first glance is a Sidekick competitor… a toy that isn’t to be taken serious amongst the BB Fanboys of the world. Yet a second glance at this device uncovers a certain “glamour / business” appeal. “RAZR vs. 7130e”

    Once the younger generations pic up on the functionality of todays BB devices and mix it with celebrity icons & RAZRish style this device could be a real hit!

    As a late 20′s 8700c user I am seriously considering purchasing a BB Pearl myself.

  • dp

    Not sure why I need this device. If I want a REAL camera I use a sony 7.2 Meg T10…real pictures, not play pictures. For Video/Audio playback I use a 60GB Ipod..for the amount of content one starts to have phone’s/pda’s don’t cut it.

    If one wants a combined phone/pda/sync’d cal/email and a real “usualble” keyboard then the 8700 is the right answer now in the mkt….never understood the value of music/audio/pictures in the same device.

    5 years from now, if I can get a phone/pda device that also has the same resolution mega-pixel wise with the latest/greatest digital camera’s and the same storage capacity as an ipod video/mp3 player then I would buy the device in a second. The pearl, just like other pda/phones in the mktplace is wanting on storage and camera mega-pixel levels….maybe someday they will get there…but not now.

  • dp

    Not sure why I need this device. If I want a REAL camera I use a sony 7.2 Meg T10…real pictures, not play pictures. For Video/Audio playback I use a 60GB Ipod..for the amount of content one starts to have phone’s/pda’s don’t cut it.

    If one wants a combined phone/pda/sync’d cal/email and a real “usualble” keyboard then the 8700 is the right answer now in the mkt….never understood the value of music/audio/pictures in the same device.

    5 years from now, if I can get a phone/pda device that also has the same resolution mega-pixel wise with the latest/greatest digital camera’s and the same storage capacity as an ipod video/mp3 player then I would buy the device in a second. The pearl, just like other pda/phones in the mktplace is wanting on storage and camera mega-pixel levels….maybe someday they will get there…but not now.

  • Thought

    George and dp: thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    dp: certainly, as it stands now, cameras in cell phones don’t come close in quality to those of stand alone digital cameras. However, personally I do find it convenient to have a camera in a cell phone at times. Why? Because I don’t always carry around my nice Sony digicam (good to see another Sony fan here!). So sometimes the best camera is the one you actually have on you at the time. Also, it is nice to be able to snap a picture and by virtue of it being in your cell phone, be able to send it to someone else immediately, without having to wait to get home and load the picture in your PC.

    It’s interesting that far more pictures are taken with cell phone cameras than with stand alone digicams. That speaks to the convenience factor.

    The same goes with music. The iPod is great, but sometimes it’s more convenient to have a few songs in your cell phone than to carry a separate device. And let’s not forget that if you have a 1G memory card, for instance, you have as much storage as an iPod nano, which amount to about 250 songs. That’s plenty for a lot of people in most situations.

    Also, with regards to the Pearl, regardless of these extra features, what is so striking is the size. Just to have a smartphone with BB email in that size is a huge advantage, IMHO. The size alone might justify its purchase by many, many people.

  • Thought

    George and dp: thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    dp: certainly, as it stands now, cameras in cell phones don’t come close in quality to those of stand alone digital cameras. However, personally I do find it convenient to have a camera in a cell phone at times. Why? Because I don’t always carry around my nice Sony digicam (good to see another Sony fan here!). So sometimes the best camera is the one you actually have on you at the time. Also, it is nice to be able to snap a picture and by virtue of it being in your cell phone, be able to send it to someone else immediately, without having to wait to get home and load the picture in your PC.

    It’s interesting that far more pictures are taken with cell phone cameras than with stand alone digicams. That speaks to the convenience factor.

    The same goes with music. The iPod is great, but sometimes it’s more convenient to have a few songs in your cell phone than to carry a separate device. And let’s not forget that if you have a 1G memory card, for instance, you have as much storage as an iPod nano, which amount to about 250 songs. That’s plenty for a lot of people in most situations.

    Also, with regards to the Pearl, regardless of these extra features, what is so striking is the size. Just to have a smartphone with BB email in that size is a huge advantage, IMHO. The size alone might justify its purchase by many, many people.

  • Thought

    George and dp: thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    dp: certainly, as it stands now, cameras in cell phones don’t come close in quality to those of stand alone digital cameras. However, personally I do find it convenient to have a camera in a cell phone at times. Why? Because I don’t always carry around my nice Sony digicam (good to see another Sony fan here!). So sometimes the best camera is the one you actually have on you at the time. Also, it is nice to be able to snap a picture and by virtue of it being in your cell phone, be able to send it to someone else immediately, without having to wait to get home and load the picture in your PC.

    It’s interesting that far more pictures are taken with cell phone cameras than with stand alone digicams. That speaks to the convenience factor.

    The same goes with music. The iPod is great, but sometimes it’s more convenient to have a few songs in your cell phone than to carry a separate device. And let’s not forget that if you have a 1G memory card, for instance, you have as much storage as an iPod nano, which amount to about 250 songs. That’s plenty for a lot of people in most situations.

    Also, with regards to the Pearl, regardless of these extra features, what is so striking is the size. Just to have a smartphone with BB email in that size is a huge advantage, IMHO. The size alone might justify its purchase by many, many people.