ThoughtPiece: Why the BlackBerry 8800 Has No Camera (Yet)

This week Thought, our resident ranter (in a good way), gives us his insight as to the supposed missing piece of the 8800 puzzle: the camera. Enjoy.

Now that the first images of the upcoming BlackBerry 8800 models (rumored to be called the “Indigo” and “Crimson” depending upon the carrier) have surfaced, it seems that one comment appearing frequently on many websites is the one lamenting the lack of a built-in camera.

So why is there a camera on the Pearl but not on the 8800 series? Certainly, after RIM’s experience with the 8100, adding a camera into the 8800 would not be difficult.

Some have suggested that the reason is due to the fact that many business and government users are not allowed to have a camera for security reasons, and that the 8800 series, with its full QWERTY keyboard, is expected to appeal more to those types of enterprise users. I’m not buying that argument. For one, RIM presumably would offer with any camera version of the 8800 the same option they do with the 8100, whereby an administrator can disable the camera. Admittedly, this is not an ideal solution for all with security concerns, but it seems to me that it would be easy enough to release 2 versions of the same model, one with a camera, one without.

I’ve remarked before how business models often determine the fate of product models, and my working theory is that it is a pure business decision that dictated the lack of camera on the 8800.

When serving the consumer market, vendors usually follow a strategy of product releases intended to satisfy people but always leave them coming back for more. Just like in poker, most players never show all of their cards at once.

Hollywood studios know this principle well, and that is why they never release all of their expected blockbusters at once, but stagger these releases for different weeks, and during the peak seasons. I live near Disney World and they too are masters at this game. They have a great roadmap of new attractions, shows, promotions, etc., but have them on a carefully controlled release schedule. They don’t just give them to the public all at once, because they want to give visitors a reason to keep coming back. Timing matters and can be a powerful tool in maximizing profits.

Getting back to RIM, the simple answer to why there is no camera in the 8800 is that they want to save this addition for a later product release. I would not be surprised to see a version of the 8800 with camera delivered to the market sometime next year, after this first wave of releases.

The Pearl has a camera and so RIM has already plugged that hole in their product lineup. Indeed, they needed to include a camera on their first consumer device to satisfy the public; anything less would have resulted in sharp criticism. But the Pearl has allowed RIM to first release the 8800 without a camera.

The 8800 without a camera will meet the dictate to satisfy consumers but leave them wanting more. The device will be very well received by those desiring a new style BlackBerry with a QWERTY keyboard. However, as we already see, the next logical device for consumers to ask for will be an 8800 version with camera, and I have no doubt that RIM will be more than happy to supply that in due time.

2 Responses to “ThoughtPiece: Why the BlackBerry 8800 Has No Camera (Yet)”

  1. 1 George

    This is just the beginning of RIM’s intention to break the Blackberry in two segments: enterprise and consumers.

    They are just trying to figure a way to do it because the Blackberry brand is too popular to completely just drop. That’s why we have the Blackberry Pearl and not the RIM Pearl. I figure that they will keep the model number for the 8800.

  2. 2 Nick

    I personally work in a secure environment and there’s no option of just turning off a camera feature. It’s either there or it isn’t. I’ve been going crazy trying to find phones with the required feature, yet not