Blackberry Q10: Now What?

The Blackberry Q10 was supposed to be the product that got Blackberry back into the market, and bought them enough time to wean their “core audience” over to proper smartphones. The one-two punch of a traditional keyboard-based featurephone combined with access to all the shiny new things an actual smartphone can do was going to be the magic bullet that righted the ship, evened the keel, and got the company sailing back into the marketplace.

And yes, that was quite the tortured nautical reference, thank you.

Anecdotal evidence, however, points to not only shitty sales but suggests that the people who actually did buy these things are returning them in droves. Why? Because they don’t work. Check out this blog from a long-time Blackberry user and admitted fan. He wanted a Q10. He wanted to love the Q10. Instead he is bitter, frustrated, and angry. Very, very angry.

Screen shot from tumblr blog of a Q10 user.

These are not my words. They are the words of a long-time Blackberry user and fan. Ouch.

So now what? Fast forward to September 27th. That’s when the mucky-mucks at Blackberry will trot out their quarterly results and it will be wildly interesting to see if they try and candy-coat the performance of the Q10. In the past (and like every other company that isn’t called “Apple”) RIM/Blackberry has always given numbers for “units shipped”, not “units sold”. But that all went to hell in a hand basket with the Playbook, because people finally realized that “units shipped” doesn’t mean shit if those units just sit in the back rooms at Best Buy until they are quietly returned to the company unsold and written off for staggering losses.

The shipped-versus-sold cat is out of the bag and it’s not going back in there any time soon. If things have well and truly changed at Blackberry, they will come out and call a spade a spade and admit that the product is a disaster, it hasn’t sold, and they need to make some big changes, and fast. Even better, someone will address – and dole out some responsibility and/or blame for – the interesting juxtaposition of 250 product testers being laid off just as you release a product that obviously hasn’t been tested. But if it’s still business-as-usual at RIM they will talk around this, throw out some numbers meant to pacify instead of inform, and everything goes back to square one. Again.

September 27th is three short weeks away. Does Blackberry finally change and try and move forward? Or does the inertia of the old guard just keep pushing them down the same path to eventual irrelevance and oblivion? The failure of the Q10 has Blackberry at the final crossroads. The last question is … which road will they take?

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