What’s RIM’s BlackBerry 10 Device Sales and Marketing Strategy?

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BlackBerry Jam Americas is coming along really nicely. There’s some excellent updates for developers including updated tools, a new BlackBerry Dev Alpha device and a BlackBerry 10 upgrade to the Dev Alphas that includes some amazing new features. From a developer’s perspective, the pieces are all falling into place and the puzzle is almost complete. But there’s one major question that’s still on everyone’s mind: what is RIM’s marketing strategy for BlackBerry 10 in order to get the users.

RIM CEO at BlackBerry Jam Keynote

If you’re looking to make games or apps for BlackBerry 10, you’re in for a treat. There’s several supported code bases, Cascades for UI work, a cool new “Peek” feature and more. But at the end of the day, we all want to make money and to make money a developer needs users.

There hasn’t really been anything mentioned in terms of how RIM is going to get those users either. During the keynote, RIM’s CEO said that carriers have seen the device and the reactions are very positive. BlackBerry 10 has a competitive advantage with its Peek and Flow features as well as the ability to grab both the physical and touchscreen keyboard markets. But what else? If RIM is going to truly get developers on board, they’re going to have to win a significant amount of users.

Ideally, RIM is able to sell 20 million BlackBerry 10 devices in 2013. That would be a solid start for RIM.

How can they do that? Be Bold.

1. Free upgrades from BlackBerry 7 to BlackBerry 10 (for certain customers and carriers).
2. Free BlackBerry 10 smartphone with a PlayBook purchase (or vice versa)
3. Discounts and competitive carrier subsidies.
4. More sales channels including through BlackBerry retail stores and online (Amazon, BlackBerry.com and others).
5. BlackBerry World and Jam giveaways (all attendees get a free device).

At the press briefing with RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins and CMO Frank Boulben, we learned a couple things:

1. It will be a global launch with some 20 countries across North America, LatAm and EMEA.

2. RIM is expecting a 2 year time frame to upgrade users to BlackBerry 10. I’m not sure what this means exactly but I assume it means that the average user keeps a smartphone for 2 years and they’re expecting the average upgrade time for a typical BlackBerry user to be 2 years. Or perhaps they’re expecting a full 80 million subscribers to have upgraded within 2 years.

At the end of the day, RIM has to make money on BlackBerry 10 so the promotions can’t get too crazy. The company may as well take a sink or swim approach as well because if BB10 doesn’t work out, there’s not much left anyways.

We’re looking forward to hearing more about how RIM is going to promote BlackBerry 10 and we’re expecting to hear more closer to launch.