November 2008 saw two prominent BlackBerry product launches, the BlackBerry Bold from AT&T -- which uses a traditional QWERTY keypad -- and the touchscreen BlackBerry Storm from Verizon.
Both phones garnered a good deal of excitement when announced.
The Bold was premiered back in May 2008 but didn't go on sale in the U.S. until Election Day, Nov. 4. In the interim, reports surfaced about delays and products being pulled off the shelves in other markets.
Its U.S. commercial launch seemed to occur without much fanfare, perhaps lost in all the focus on Election Day.
While AT&T declines to release specific sales figures, a company spokesperson tells Mobile Enterprise that AT&T is "very pleased" with customer response to the $299 Bold.
Of course, AT&T has its own touchscreen juggernaut with the iPhone, which the New York Times says will be duking it out this holiday season with the T-Mobile G1 and the Verizon's BlackBerry Storm, among others.
Hundreds of enthusiastic customers were reportedly lined up outside some Verizon stores on the Nov. 21 launch date. The company reportedly ran out of its initial supply of $200 Storm devices fairly quickly. The Storm won't be back on store shelves, or available online, until mid-December, according to this report from Canada's Financial Post.
UPDATE posted Dec. 19, 2008: Verizon announced that the Storm is back in stock in select retail stores.
Was this was a marketing ploy designed to build demand? Silicon Alley Insider reports that the delay is rumored to be due to a software glitch, which Verizon and RIM both deny.
Meanwhile, the Storm is facing a scathing review from the New York Times' David Pogue.
This Boston Herald review is a bit gentler than Pogue's, but ends up favoring the Bold.
At the end of the day, the real question is whether any of the smartphones out there are meeting all the needs of the business users.
In early November, I wrote about my experiences at the Verizon Wireless store, juxtaposing the crowds at the store against the lighter traffic at many other retail establishments.
Mobilizer reader Steve Baker at International Exterminator Corp. in Fort Worth, TX, wrote in with this response on Nov. 5:
"My last two visits to AT&T stores (probably on the hook for the next 100 years) were approximately six weeks and three months ago.
"These were corporate stores (not in a mall), free Standing or strip center.
"Three months ago it was to replace a phone my 17-year-old son ran through the laundry. (Guess he did not use enough bleach.) It did not work again" (Samsung -- he had it about 6 months)
"We went in after school probably 5:30. Store was crowded (light rain outside) Our name was on the list for 45+ minutes,
"We had checked online prices before going and found that replacements were more than I / we / he wanted to pay (we have used up our upgrades on his prior phones).
"After we were called, 20 minutes and $150.00 lighter, we had a replacement Nokia. This was mostly a price purchase. His statement at the time was that an iPhone was just a few dollars more. (I would consider but his track record with phones at school -- stolen/broken is not good)
"Six weeks ago same store: I had dropped my 8525 and the phone section no longer worked. The store was remodeled. At 10:00 a.m. there were three or four customers in the store. It really looked empty.
"Again, I had comparison shopped online. The Tilt replacement was $449. iPhone 16G was $299. I bit. I was out of the store in 10-15 minutes.
"My problem is there was not a phone I wanted. Tilt is nothing new. I had upgraded WM-6 on the 8525. iPhone is a great CONSUMER device. Not a business device!
"I should have bought the Tilt. Which I think is a terrible name, but I am an old pin ball wizard, so I guess that name would be generational."
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