Last week at WES, Jim Balsille personally told me to expect two or three surprises from RIM by the end of the year. With our breaking rumor from the showfloor, and added confirmation from the Boy Genius, it seems clear that the first “surprise” will be a new Pearl/SureType device out sometime this fall (September-October). Given the recent words of RIM Senior VP David Yach in conjunction with the Pearl rumors, we can also safely say that Wi-Fi is RIM’s second surprise for the rest of 2007.
That leaves only one surprise left to determine.
It should be first said that RIM may not have another trick up its sleeve for 2007 — honestly, a new Pearl and Wi-Fi would be enough for most. However, whether or not we receive our third present from the House of BlackBerry just in time for Christmas doesn’t mean we can’t speculate on what it might be until it arrives (like any child shaking bow-tied boxes under the Christmas tree would).
A potential indicator lies in the timeline given to us by Mr. Balsillie. Whether or not the surprise slips into next year, the timeline gives us a clear indication that the third surprise will not be a new device. With a new Pearl set to drop in the fall, there’s no way RIM would crowd the market with a winter-time device, especially considering the full-QWERTY festivus we’ve already been privy to this year: BlackBerrys 8300, 8800 and 8830. The earliest we should be expecting another major new device from RIM is early Spring of 2008.
So what’s left? Jibi tells us that we won’t see BES 5.0 before WES 2k8 and OS 5.0 won’t drop until the 9xxx devices are released.
For my money, it will be a big announcement surrounding the Virtual BlackBerry Network. Do not underestimate its importance to RIM’s plans: BlackBerry Connect was mostly a failure, but the Virtual Network could open whole new business opportunities for the company. While RIM has been mum on the subject since the initial announcement a few weeks ago, it is very reasonable to expect more information about the VBN in the coming months.