BlackBerry “Torch” Sales Disappoint RIM

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BlackBerry Torch 9800, a much hyped touch smartphone from RIM, has disappointed company, specially at the cash book when it comes to sales numbers at first few days. Launched to compete with growing popularity of iPhone from Apple, BlackBerry Torch was expected to regain its lost grounds in North American market which does seem to accomplish by “Torch”. ( Read a “Torch” review – An answer to iPhone )

As reported by WSJ, retail spot checks show sales of the Torch, which began in the U.S. at AT&T Inc. stores Thursday, have been unimpressive—particularly in comparison with other recent smartphone debuts. As compare to Apple’s iPhone 4 which was in high pre-lauch demand and sold 1.4 million handsets in first 3 days, RIM managed to out-pocket only 150,000 handsets in weekend sales. To be sure, many Torch sales will likely go to RIM’s core business clients, who can be slower to adopt the latest models.

Sales figures of Torch is not a good sign for RIM which is already loosing market to its competitors like iPhone, GalaxyS and also facing ‘possible black-out’ in many countries like U.A.E., India and Indonesia. The Torch, RIM’s first phone with a touchscreen and slide-out keyboard, comes with revamped software and a faster Web browser, which address some of the complaints against previous BlackBerry models.

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Despite of many challenges, RIM is still not revealed its future plans for international roll out and now available only with AT&T with 2 years conservative contract at the price of $199. BlackBerry users could also be waiting to upgrade current phones with the new operating system, rather buying an entirely new phone, analysts say. The new software is set to roll out to existing devices in the coming months and promises to make it easier for developers to offer third-party applications. The platform also makes improvements in the way BlackBerry users can tap into social networks like Facebook and media from iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Like other high-profile smartphones, the Torch has been disassembled by research firms to identify key components to help spot trends in the electronics industry. Two research firms, iSuppli and UBM TechInsights, concluded the new phone relies heavily on parts used in earlier RIM products. ISuppli said it was assembled for RIM in Mexico, though it didn’t identify what company carried out that work.

However, arguably the biggest upgrade is the version 6 of the BlackBerry operating system, which will also be rolling out to other BlackBerry devices soon. As Mashable’s Christina Warren wrote, the device and the new OS is a “step in a right direction” for RIM, but the Torch is somewhat of a disappointment hardware-wise; for example, the 5-megapixel camera is not a huge advantage over competitors, and more importantly, the 624 MHz CPU and the 480 x 360 pixel resolution are subpar by today’s high-end smartphone standards.

Still, it’s too early to call the Torch a failure or a success; as RIM expands the launch to other countries and carriers, we’ll have a clearer picture. To learn more about the device, check out the hands-on video review we did last week:

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