ThoughtPiece: How successful will the Pearl be? Part II

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Last week I began a look at indicators of the sales potential of the new Blackberry Pearl. I noted the favorable buzz generated by internet rumors, and discussed the idea that the demographic for this device extends across a broad spectrum of age and professional status.

So let’s dive in and look at some other relevant factors that may be predictors of the destiny of the Pearl in the consumer market.

Financial Community Reaction

The investment community is bullish on the Pearl. Last week the Wall Street Journal noted that “at Wednesday’s close (9/6), RIM shares had surged 21% since the end of July, largely on speculation about the Pearl.” (Since then the shares have risen more.) Forbes ran an article titled “RIM Shares Seen As Attractive Ahead Of Pearl Debut” and reported that “RBC Capital Markets reiterated an ‘outperform’ rating on Research in Motion after the maker of BlackBerry smartphones released its latest offering, the BlackBerry 8100 Pearl.” This means that a lot of people are risking a lot of money betting that the Pearl will be a success. Money is a very significant vote of confidence.

Media Reaction

The reaction of the media has been mostly very positive, and has been covered well by this article and further by this article. It seems to me that the amount of positive press for the Pearl has exceeded that given to most new technology product launches.

Design

The design of the Pearl is a winner and that has great import in the marketplace. Motorola has sold more than 50 million units of their RAZR phone entirely on the strength of its design. Apple has used cutting edge design to propel sales of its products in the market, including the ultra-successful iPod. Tom Peters has remarked:

“I simply believe that design per se is the principal reason for emotional attachment (or detachment) relative to a product or service or experience. Design, as I see it, is arguably the #1 determinant of whether a product-service-experience stands out or doesn’t.”

Usability

In the consumer market, technology products must be easy to use in order to succeed. The new trackwheel that is the inspiration for the name of the Pearl will probably be the single greatest factor determining consumer perception of usability. Early reviews suggest success in this area.

Price

The price is right for a device this stylish and powerful; at $199 dollars in the US, that seems like a bargain.

Summary

I summarize my thoughts in an “Index of Leading Economic Indicators for the Pearl:”

Marketing is not yet on this list as I will wait until a brief period of time from the official product launch to evaluate any marketing campaign (or lack thereof).

Another factor will come into focus in the near future, and that will be the accumulated experience of real world customers. We’ll learn, for instance, if the build quality of the device will hold up, or if the Pearl will be as easy to use as it seems. Word will get out, for better or worse.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for a well designed product that delivers on its promises and works as it should. The Pearl certainly seems to be a well designed product; if it can deliver on its promise it should succeed.