updated 01:30 am EST, Sat January 28, 2012
RIM to focus on upgrading current BlackBerry users
RIM's new leader Thorsten Heins in further interviews has outlined how he plans to take on competition in the short term. He revealed to Reuters that just 20 percent of BlackBerry owners are using a modern version of the OS, in some cases using BlackBerry 5 or even older. Much of the company's focus would be on getting them to upgrade to new phones, including special carrier deals that could bundle devices together or give carriers phones with bundled apps.
The deals were ready, and the company just needed to "get off the starting grid," Heins said.
His strategy underlined both the difficulty of converting customers from other platforms, most of whom are going to Android or the iPhone, as well as the inherent barriers to upgrades on the BlackBerry platform. Moving to BlackBerry 7 needs new hardware like the Bold 9900, even if the owner has a phone just a year old. With all version updates are controlled by the carrier and not RIM, providers can often take months to deliver an update or choose not to update a phone at all. While Android can have somewhat similar problems depending on the phone, iPhone owners get every upgrade as soon as Apple is ready and often for two years or more.
In the meantime, Heins revealed that the upgraded PlayBook would have more than the 42Mbps promised in one roadmap. An LTE-capable 4G PlayBook, which originally would have arrived last year, should now come in spring. It will presumably have the faster 1.5GHz processor and PlayBook 2.0.
AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will all have LTE by mid-year, although it's not certain if or when any carrier will adopt a 3G or 4G PlayBook. RIM had promised 3G and 4G versions for virtually every carrier, but delays and poor sales led to carriers backing off. The iPad's sustained lead, as well as a hesitance from customers to pay for data plans on non-phones, may make it difficult for RIM to renew carriers' faith.