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RIM chief: market unclear for tablets, touch-only phones [U]

updated 02:55 pm EDT, Fri April 16, 2010

RIM co-CEO questions iPad, iPhone staying power

(Updated with clearer remarks) RIM's co-chief Mike Lazaridis downplayed many of Apple's efforts today in a keynote at the TD Newcrest technology conference in Toronto. The executive was concerned that there wasn't necessarily a market for tablets like the iPad and that any devices would have to be put in the context of computers and smartphones. Many companies ask new hires to choose either a new smartphone or a new notebook, and if the tablet is simply a substitute for a notebook at those companies it may be "difficult to judge" if it's worthwhile, Lazaridis said.

He added that smartphones are getting more powerful and more computer-like over time; he implied this would reduce the need for a tablet due to the amount of overlap in features.

The company leader also downplayed the importance of touchscreen-only phones. While it's important to give customers what they want, touch-only phones (like the iPhone) aren't as popular anymore, Lazaridis argued. He claimed that most of the people who bought touchscreen-only phones in the past two years were going back to phones with hardware QWERTY keyboards, whether touch-enabled or otherwise. It's those keyboards that made RIM "famous," he said.

He pointed out that it was the experience and not the features that determined a phone's success, and that the most popular BlackBerry was actually the starter Curve 8520. It not only lacks touch but 3G and a high-resolution screen.

Lazaridis' statements may have been partly contradicted by leaked, though unconfirmed, plans. RIM may be preparing an 8.9-inch tablet, and the company in the past two years has tried to heavily promote the touchscreen-only Storm and Storm2 without much success. Lazaridis was careful to stress that the company would still improve on the Storm but didn't say whether that would involve a change in form factor or a continuation of the existing touch-only formula.

The leaked BlackBerry 9900 touchscreen slider may be an answer to these phones' relative troubles, as it would not only add a hardware keyboard but could remove the click-down screen that has soured some buyers on the Storm.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969


    yea, right

    I guess Mike is trying to justify his job about now but I can't believe his comments. Look at the article on MacNN right before this one from MacPractice. The use of the iPad by a wide variety of doctors, dentist, and chiropractors--instead of a small phone or Windows notebook--makes a ton of sense and I'm sure this size device will be used all over the place, in homes and businesses.

  1. njfuzzy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Please ignore the huge percentage of the market going to our largest competitor. People do not want the millions of products they buy from our competitor each quarter. They want the product that we have been offering for the last decade.

  1. tundaman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Touchscreen phones "not popular"???

    Looks like monkey boy Baldmer just got a new pal :P

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Everyone is entitled to their opinion.


  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Kool-aid anyone?

    Looks like the executives at RIM are drinking their own kool-aid. Nobody wants touch interfaces, our bestseller lacked touch, 3G, and decent resolution. Maybe they need to return to the "good days", a?

  1. hassanpr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    1 week

    So what market are the people in who purchased 500k of iPads in the first week ? LOL some CEO are crazy including Jobs but his crazy ideas pay off.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Screen size

    The screen size issue alone warrants a tablet. The experience of using my iPad vs. My iPhone are world apart. This guy is clueless.

  1. minimansion

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dumb and dumber...

    What is this guy smoking? They must really be stupid over there. They never "invented" the keyboard on the pager/phone anyway.

    It was actually pioneered by motorola with the timeport before email became mainstream.

    They (RIM) just got lucky with the right timing and by the fact that microsoft "let" them plug into the exchange email system. It was great for the time, but now they are going to have to actually "innovate" and they are probably on the way to being DONE.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Determining a Phone's Success

    He pointed out that it was the experience and not the features that determined a phone's success, and that the most popular BlackBerry was actually the starter Curve 8520.

    So the cheaper the Blackberry, the better the experience.

  1. dotcom

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Perhaps in his world, but even then...

    It may be true that the iPad will only have niche markets in enterprise where RIM is a big player, but he fails to recognize the huge consumer market where the iPad (and similar tablets sure to come) will be just what many people are looking for and where that "smartphone or laptop" choice is a false one. Besides, I don't know anybody whose company made them make that choice, a smartphone is never a substitute for a computer -- laptop or desktop is the real choice.

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