The BlackBerry Torch, a new slider BlackBerry from Research In Motion (RIM), was introduced this morning on AT&T’s website ahead of a planned 11 a.m. Eastern time press conference in New York.
The new BlackBerry Torch features a 3.2-inch touchscreen display, slide-out qwerty keyboard and is the first device to come running BlackBerry 6 OS. Additional specs include a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a 4GB micro SD. The Torch goes on sale August 12th, $199 with a two year data plan.
The new device comes as RIM has been under increasing pressure to take its smartphone to the next level. Its solid first-quarter earnings revealed a soft spot in declining average selling price (ASP), dropping $12 to $299. That’s a little more than half the $595 ASP of the iPhone.
As RIM struggles to evolve and differentiate its device portfolio, customers are able to get the same features out of lower-end BlackBerry devices as they would from the more expensive, high-end models.
As RIM plans a move aimed at competing with the likes of rivals Apple and Google, Nielsen published numbers yesterday that show BlackBerry users are increasingly looking to other smartphone platforms. While Nielsen found that 89 percent of iPhone owners plan on staying with Apple and 71 percent of Android users plan on staying with that platform, only 42 percent of BlackBerry users will stay with their RIM device. The numbers went so far as to reveal a breakdown of where BlackBerry users will go next, estimating 29 percent will go with iPhone and 21 percent to Android.
In the first quarter of 2010, RIM reported revenue growth of 24 percent year-over-year to $4.24 billion. BlackBerry smartphone shipments grew more than 43 percent over the same quarter last year to 11.2 million, and RIM shipped its 100 millionth BlackBerry smartphone during the quarter.
AT&T is the second half of today’s equation. While the carrier has done well as the exclusive seller of the iPhone 4, many wonder how AT&T will fare as that contract ends and it has to focus on selling other popular devices. In notes today, Research firm BTIG postulates that the iPhone 4’s highly publicized antenna issues may have actually given AT&T a boost by drawing attention away from the carrier’s network woes. AT&T just recently moved above Verizon Wireless in JD Powers’ annual wireless customer care performance study.
Check www.wirelessweek.com for more on the RIM and AT&T announcement today.