I [don't] want my Bold
You can’t always believe what you read. Take the August 21st “launch” of the new Research in Motion (RIM:TSX, RIMM:Q) BlackBerry Bold via Rogers (RCI.B:TSX).
On August 12th, we were the first to let you know that Rogers would be launching the BlackBerry Bold in a couple of weeks (see prior post “RIM Bold launching at Rogers very soon” August 12-08). You might have read in the DTM that Rogers beat that notional target date, with an “official launch” earlier this week. The only problem was, unless you have some product to sell, I don’t think marketing types should get the DTM to run a headline that says “Rogers unveils the Bold“.
Try to find a Bold today.
If you troop down to the Rogers corporate store at 330 Bay Street right now, there’s a sign that says “No Bolds”. Travel south on Bay and the salesman at Wireless Wave will tell you that the first shipment was to arrive yesterday. And then today at noon. But, other than a demo, they still don’t have them.
In Western Canada, United Parcel Service by some retailers for “the screwup”. The demo Bolds haven’t even arrived yet out there, let alone the real things. One journalist observed that it wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as the iPhone launch. The truth is, BlackBerry customers aren’t lining up to buy them ’cause they aren’t in stock yet.
It looks like our August 12th scoop that the Bold will be “available in a couple” of weeks will pan out to be accurate in the end. Can you imagine Apple launching the iPod without product in stock? What a PR disaster that would’ve been.
But on to more serious business. It is never fun to talk down your own book, but I just tried a demo Bold and it didn’t knock my socks off.
The form factor feels very solid, much more so than the 8700. The screen is a bit shorter than one might expect, but the keyboard feels like bubblewrap when you tap a key. Not quite the squishy 8800 keys, but not really any better, either.
The fellow next to me and I agreed that it just didn’t feel right. Maybe it was this particular demo, and a real “suitable for ownership” model would feel more sure-footed. But I doubt it.
To get tens of thousands of white collar workers in Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere to prematurely upgrade for several hundred dollars down, plus a 3 year plan extention, will likely take more than this hardware offering, I’m sad to say. It looks good, but doesn’t drive quite as well. At least based upon a quick “drive by”.
Time to exit my RIM margin position (but keep the untouchable RRSP one). I don’t want to be around a couple of weeks from now when the U.S. hedge fund mo’ crowd get their hands on it. If they conclude that the Bold isn’t the second coming, you’d expect some pressure on the stock.
If I’m wrong, you can always buy it back higher. For at least the past decade, investors eventually made money regardless of when they bought RIM. But as product launches go, this one won’t put a smile on anyone’s face. ;-(
(disclosure – I own RIM and RCI.A)