RIM just finished wrapping up their annual shareholders meeting. The tidbit of most interest to everyday consumers was that seven BlackBerry smartphones are due to land in the next couple of months. Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said that there would be several devices “within rapid succession” in the next month. The Bold 9900 is on track for a summer launch again, as we had been seeing in carrier leaks, and it’s probably safe to assume the 9860 and 9850 will be coming shortly behind. So what are the other four? Torch 9810, Curve 9360, and their various CDMA/GSM equivalents, maybe? Or maybe that Curve Touch is still lurking around the corner to offer a low-cost alternative to the Torch 9860. There was also that mysterious Bold 9790, which I’m tempted to think that was just an early-stage prototype, but you never know. Apparently certification for the 9900 is almost done on its first carrier, which should accelerate the approval process worldwide. As for the PlayBook, the 4G version is coming in the fall, and RIM’s not in any rush, as they’ve iterated there’s very little 4G coverage worldwide, nevermind 3G. One investor bashed RIM’s poor marketing presence at Best Buy, but execs openly admitted that it was their first retail product (i.e. not one sold through carriers) and that they were improving.
In terms of long-term strategy, RIM reasserted that they’re doing awesome but are “not perfect” and that they’re poised to leap a whole generation thanks to the time they’re investing in development now. Considering we’ve seen the specs, I think that’s overstating the progress RIM’s making on the next batch of BlackBerry smartphones, but it will at least catch them up. I do admire that they said RIM never sold out long-term goals for short-term gains, and gives me a little faith in RIM until at least early 2012. If those QNX BlackBerry phones don’t do it though, RIM’s in real trouble. As for those layoffs, err, streamlining practices, RIM says that they’ll have full details by Q2 results, but that they won’t be cutting from the development of future products. The leadership structure is staying the same despite threats to the contrary, and from the sounds of the investors, they’d rather have it that way. There’s been a lot of talk about internal ire from staff, but Balsillie seriously doubted the legitimacy of the anonymous letters criticizing RIM, and thought that most employees would not condone that format as a way of delivering feedback.
Closing up, Balsillie said to investors, “If there’s anything I can do to make you sleep better at night, I’ll do it.” Well, investors, BlackBerry fans, and onlookers? What could RIM do better that they aren’t already considering?