The BlackBerry Torch 9800 was supposed to be RIM’s great new entry into the high end smartphone space. With a capacitive touchscreen (a first for the Canadian company) and that trademark BlackBerry keyboard, hidden under a sliding mechanism, surely RIM thought this would be an instant hit with consumers.
However, it turns out it wasn’t. A few days after the August 12th launch, analysts weighed in on the sales situation, and what they said wasn’t nice. Apparently only 150,000 BlackBerry Torch units were sold during the launch weekend, a number very far from previous RIM launches such as the Tour 9630 for Verizon, which sold 275,000 units in just one day.
But those were analysts. Today we have confirmation that sales of the BlackBerry torch are very slow from none other than Fred Devereux, AT&T’s President of Wireless Operations in the US West. He spoke during Seattle’s Mobile Future Forward conference and said he was “surprised there hasn’t been a faster adoption” of the smartphone, which he personally thought was the best BlackBerry to date.
An unusual statement, to say the least. Executives usually refrain from making such remarks, but perhaps Mr. Devereux was so surprised about the Torch’s measly sales numbers that he just couldn’t keep it in anymore.
Now granted, this may not mean the Torch will be a flop in the long run. Those who constantly choose RIM’s offerings are in the corporate/enterprise space, and they’re not the types to jump at a smartphone immediately after it’s released. In corporate environments there are very clear phone update schedules, and these may not have been able to make a mark in the sales numbers yet, but probably will at some point in the future.
However, what is pretty clear is that the Torch did not help RIM gain traction in the consumer space. Which is probably something they had hoped would happen. Given this development, the predictions about RIM’s market share staying flat over the next few years seem more plausible than ever.
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