*UPDATE* RIM has informed us that we misunderstood Mike Lazaridis’ comments. Supposedly, what Mike truly meant was that (according to surveys) the public does not want “touch-only” phones, but would rather have a Touchscreen/QWERTY hybrid device. Obviously, we can understand this is to be their belief and direction, with a ‘Slider’ in the works. We can be confident again that Mike does love touchscreen phones…at least ones with full QWERTY keyboards. Please read the full Q&A after the break…
: Let me move on to one more. In December, you gave an interview to the Financial Post, there was a really interesting paragraph that you talked about handling devices and you raised a lot of good questions about their value in what they would accomplish. You didn’t really spend as much time, I think as everyone here would want, if you want to answer me, and it was a shorter interview. Maybe you can answer some of those questions now, the markets evolved a little bit, there’s been some product announcements. What are your thoughts about that type of form factor?
: Well. The trends we’ve been following have been an — there’s been, over the last three to four years, organizations have discovered the value of smartphones clearly, and that’s why we’re here, and that’s what we’re talking. And smartphones are always starting to space the need for laptops, but not all laptops, and not all needs. And I know that there are risks organizations that ask their customers when they join, when get hired, do you want a smartphone or a laptop very few get the opportunity to have both. So I think that’s an important thing, those are differentiated.
So the question you have ask yourself is when it comes to tablet, what market or what opportunities still it’s solving, what problem is it solving, and is it just a replacement laptop. I think that’s a difficult one to judge. But I think again if you look at what’s happening with smartphones are getting bigger, screens are getting bigger and getting more powerful and faster CPUs, more memory, we go in the 4G networks, we’ve got Wi-Fi, it’s just got everything, the operating systems are becoming more, more powerful, the tools are becoming more, more powerful, more applications are being developed, and are being used in more and more both enterprise and consumer spaces. So, I think at this point if you have to take the whole thing into consideration, you can’t say what’s the market for tablets in exclusion of the other devices, you have to put the whole thing together and I don’t think it’s that clear yet.
: In the consumer market, it seems like, in the smartphones, especially, there is a line to be drawn between QWERTY and touchscreen, and you dominate in the QWERTY space. And I wondered what you think — I think the audience by watching, what do you think about the touchscreen form factor and how that needs to evolve and what do you think you need to do?
I think with the trackpad technology is going into the BlackBerrys now, we provide a gesture and an elegance to control. Again, that’s unmatched. So, I think that is a third dimension, because you talk about touchscreen devices, you talk about QWERTY devices, but I would argue this is third, the whole control, command and control of things like well-designed trackpad technologies. I think, that’s really, really important. And I think, we continue to evolve with the research and invest in the Storm technology to make sure we get those right, we learned a lot and we continue to evolve that platform. I think that again what’s important is we provide that choice and we don’t lose sight of the fact what’s made us famous and what’s driving our sales, which is our QWERTY keyboards and our incredible track [indiscernible].
Original post with apparent inaccuracies:
The term “people say the darndest things” couldn’t be more fitting for this recent development in the BlackBerry world. During a TD Newcrest technology conference in Toronto, RIM’s Founder and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis gave a keynote where he touched on the subject of touchscreen phones and tablets [pun intended]. “While it’s important to give customers what they want, touch-only phones like the iPhone aren’t that popular”. I must be missing something, because that statement from Lazaridis makes absolutely no sense to me. Aren’t touchscreen phones some of the most popular and sophisticated devices on the market right now? Doesn’t RIM offer 2 touchscreen phones of its own? Isn’t RIM planning on releasing more touchscreen devices in the future [i.e. the slider]?
During the speech, Lazaridis claimed that the need for tablets and devices such as the iPad was not realistic because they don’t really have a place in the market right now. He believes that since smartphones are becoming more similar to computers, the market for tablets, iPads, and other devices of the sort will become obsolete. Personally, I don’t think this is a fair statement because we are at the very beginning of this new computer technology. Devices such as the iPad, HP slate, etc. are just making their debut and developing their own place in the gadget world. But by taking a look at their sales statistics so far, I fail to see how they are unpopular.
All in all, I think Lazaridis did a good job of contradicting quite a few of RIM’s future plans. If touchscreens are so unpopular then why are they planning to develop the 8.9-inch tablet and BlackBerry Slider? With WES 2010 on the horizon, I am interested to see how RIM moves forward from this. Taking an anti-touchscreen approach seems highly unlikely, but with RIM…you never really know what they’re going to come up with next.