UPDATE: RIM were kind enough to send over the transcripts of the TD Newcrest event in order to clear up exactly what was said during the keynote. After reading the actual transcripts from the event, it’s clear Mike L didn’t say anything that was really definitive about the tablet market, but rather promoted a sense of uncertainty. I think the iPad definitely proved a tablet market can be vibrant, and that the market can handle some redundancy. When it comes to touchscreen devices, the transcripts show that there was definitely an attempt to pivot the conversation away from touchscreens and focus more on trackpads. When I first wrote about this, the thought was that Mike was shifting the discussion away from touchscreens and towards their competitive advantage, which is definitely the trackpad market. The 8520 has a very high customer satisfaction rating, and you could argue the trackpad is central to this. It’s a smart move for Mike to shift the discussion to these devices, which he calls a “third dimension” in user input. Overall, the original post was a little focused on a dismissal of tablets and touchscreens, and would have probably been better put as a focus on trackpads and smartphone capabilities.
Mike Lazaridis spoke at a TD Newcrest technology conference in Toronto today where he downplayed Apple’s tablet efforts and said there wasn’t necessarily a market for them. Lazaridis said these devices should be put in the context of computers and smartphones, and said if a user is asked to choose between an tablet and a netbook, the tablet isn’t an adequate substitute. Mike L believes that as smartphones become more powerful, and move closer to PCs, the need for a tablet is greatly reduced.
Lazaridis also dismissed the importance of touchscreen phones, saying that touch-only devices such as the iPhone aren’t that popular. While it’s important to appease the consumer and the carrier, who clearly want a touchscreen device, he believes most of these customers are shifting to QWERTY.
So what is Mike Lazaridis talking about? This could be an attempt to pivot the conversation about tablets and touchscreens, and move the discussion to where RIM is more competitive (eg QWERTY devices and productivity). It’s a bit of a slap in the face to Storm owners, when the top executive seems to lack faith in the product they purchased. The message should be: “Touchscreen phones provide new possibilities for interesting UIs and the input makes for some creative applications. Rest assured, RIM will do it better than the rest as we understand how to create a smartphone with real productivity and utility in mind.”
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