Sales for BlackBerry Torch are “Tepid”

by Jordan Richardson on August 18, 2010

Sales for the BlackBerry Torch, Research In Motion’s latest device meant to revitalize the company’s prospects, are being described as “tepid” and “underwhelming” by analysts.

To add to RIM’s woes, Amazon has already put the device on discount a mere four days after its United States release.

Analysts from Citi and Goldman Sachs have called the sales from the Torch “disappointing,” to say the least. The Wall Street Journal reports the analysts from the two firms as seeing no line-ups at stores for the Torch and observing that most purchasers of the device seem to be “existing BlackBerry customers.”

PC World’s JR Raphael says, “It’s too early to call it a flop, but the odds of RIM’s new BlackBerry Torch 9800 becoming a smash hit aren’t good.” Raphael goes on to suggest that RIM’s device is being “overshadowed” by products from Apple and Android manufacturers, causing it to gain no new ground among non-corporate users.

RBC Capital Markets and Stifel Nicolaus analysts said that the Torch sold 150,000 units over the weekend. Contrast that with Apple’s 1.7 million units sold over the first weekend in June and you can see the picture starting to widen somewhat.

But is comparing the product to Apple’s iPhone 4 really fair?

For starters, the customer base has to come into play here. RIM is dealing largely with corporate consumers, not “fans.” For Apple, the “fans” of their products are likely to spend hours in lines just to get their hands on the new goods. For RIM, the same buzz among the consumer culture is just not present. There isn’t the same “excitement” around a BlackBerry product.

The customer base’s reluctancy to become “fans” of the BlackBerry product line leads to another point. Perhaps it is too early to begin predicting the sales of the BlackBerry Torch, but the mostly corporate client base may wait longer than traditional first-comers in terms of getting their mitts on new products. The sales curve for the Torch may be longer, in other words, with consistent sales taking time to develop. There’s no sudden explosion of popularity at the outset because that’s just not how RIM rolls.

With the BlackBerry 6 O/S on board and a few other features worth humming about, it’s possible that hype over the Torch could be a slow burn.

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