Is RIM making a big mistake with the Stealth?

BlackBerry Stealth

So here’s what we know so far: coming from a fairly reliable source (who broke the news on the BlackBerry 8700 way back when), we have a grainy picture of a BlackBerry that is set to be released some time in November or December. Very similar in design to the 7130c, the BlackBerry “Stealth” looks to be a SureType device with MP3 music capability, removable memory, EDGE network support and a thumbpad (this will most likely not replace the scrollwheel, but instead be used for dedicated music controls). The Stealth sounds fairly similar to the “lifestyle” line of devices RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis mentioned during WES 2006, although it’s missing the Wi-Fi and integrated GPS he talked about (let’s not get started about camera functionality). Are we here at BlackBerry Cool the only ones looking for more?

Some BlackBerry Cool staff have recently picked up the 7130g, and the only thing that would make us get rid of it would be a 713x BlackBerry with removable memory and MP3 features (if the price was right). The Stealth will also appeal to, like the 7130, prosumers and enterprise users who want RIM’s email functionality in a more palatable handset than your average BlackBerry. However, this is a very small segment of smartphone users, and doesn’t even begin to tap into the general populace of handset consumers. Assuming the Stealth is about the same size and price (200 USD with a two-year contract), the average consumer will look at this device and say: “So what? It’s clunky and doesn’t even have a camera. My RAZR has a camera. I’m just going to get a Q.”

Now, we should still wait for the other shoe to drop. For the past three years, RIM has released a non-SureType BlackBerry in the fourth quarter; in 2005 it was the 8700, in 2004 it was the 7290 and in 2003 it was the 7280. We can therefore reasonably expect an 87xx lifestyle BlackBerry to arrive before the end of the year, hopefully with the Wi-Fi, GPS and improved video features the Stealth is lacking (UMTS network support wouldn’t hurt either). This will put RIM’s consumer offerings on more even footing with chic devices like the Q, but it will still most likely not have a camera.

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Comments [8 Responses]

June 28th, 2006 at 1:30 pm

I really don’t think that lack of camera should be looked down upon. As part of the professional services group of a software company, there are plenty of clients that forbid camera phones on premises and some places it’s just illegal. Quite honestly, I have a Moto V635 before and I rarely used the camera but it’s hard to find good high end phones with Bluetooth and EDGE that don’t have cameras. So I found myself in plenty of cases having to leave the phone at the reception desk or in the car. I think the music player and removable media would be a great addition but I see more uses for the removable media. It’s hard being on site and having to upload a file to our corporate servers when I can’t get to email via a VPN or the web. Having the ability to pull it off the removable media and sending it via EDGE would be a very great benefit.

Jamison Banks
June 28th, 2006 at 1:48 pm

“As part of the professional services group of a software company, there are plenty of clients that forbid camera phones on premises and some places it’s just illegal.”

And that’s the rub. Professional services, heck try the US Military/Government which bans anything with a digital camera. Rumor has it they have a deal with RIM that they buy blackberries as long as there’s no cameras on them. Government sales make up a full 10%+ of RIM’s sales.

Obviously, RIM would NEED to make a specific difference in the lifestyle devices . . . but that nagging contractual agreement may be what’s biting them in the butt.

I’d hate to think the reason is lack of technical expertise. C’mon RIM, get a move on.

Andy Cohen
June 28th, 2006 at 11:11 pm

Blackberry is the best device and does everything it does better than any other device. Much better than Treo, and much better than Q Phone. But in order for Blackberry to retain its dominent position as the premier multi function device maker, they need to add different models that do different things. Keep on the same track they are on for corporate customers, but making a device that also has a camera, mp3 player, TV and video capabilites, much faster internet access,and amfm radio will only make Blackberry more successful and apt to retain its number one position. Also these new devices need to look more fashionable with nicer metal finishes and other colors. The best needs to keep getting better!

BlackBerry Cool » Jim Balsille Says: a new BlackBerry will have “image capture”
June 29th, 2006 at 8:10 am

[…] This isn’t that big of a deal, seeing as we already knew that RIM was already working on BlackBerrys with MP3 playback, video, memory expansion and image capture, but in light of a recent BlackBerry Cool editorial, it does make us feel good. is reporting that RIM CEO Jim Balsillie, speaking at the C3 expo yesterday, told the crowd that future BlackBerrys would feature “image capture” — i.e. a camera. Balsillie also said that RIM would be introducing new features to BlackBerry devices, including MP3 players, video, memory expansion and image capture, very soon. In addition, he said that GPS would be included in virtually all BlackBerry devices, except for some that would work with a Bluetooth GPS receiver. […]

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