BlackBerry World Is One of Worry for Retailers
ORLANDO, Fla. (TheStreet) -- When Sanjay Karwa arrived at BlackBerry World 2012 here, he had fond hopes. But these days, BlackBerrys have a way of breaking hearts.
Karwa owns and operates Planet M , a network of more than 140 retail stores across India. Life is good for mobile phone stores there. Nearly 1 billion cellphone users crowd India. And Karwa does more $40 million in annual sales peddling mobile devices from most makers, including Research In Motion (RIMM) .
|Many get the feeling Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, is no longer moving forward.|
After the 18-some-odd hour flight from Mumbai to Florida, he was hopeful RIM's annual confab would deliver the mobile goods his business needs.
"BlackBerry used to be a big thing in India, but then the iPhone comes along and steals the show," Karwa told us as he was eating a Haagen-Dazs Bar on a stick in a crowded hallway here. "RIM accounts only for about 10% of my business, and growth on BlackBerry sales has been stagnant."
So when newly minted RIM CEO Thorsten Heins touted the benefits of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10, Karwa listened closely -- one CEO to another.
"I absolutely expect us to regain market share," emphasized Heins, as he went through the features and benefits of the operating system, which took three years to develop. BlackBerry 10 would be RIM's best -- and let's be honest here, probably last -- bet in the mobile computing market of tomorrow. Heins was pitching hard his interface concept called "flows," which has gesture-based navigation and typing that moves away from the traditional qwerty keyboard.
But Karwa -- and many others in the room -- got the feeling Research In Motion was no longer moving forward.
BlackBerry 10 posts a zero
Karwa, like us, waited throughout the keynote presentation to hear a launch date for BlackBerry 10. It did not come. He, like us, wondered if there would be an opportunity to review the line of new hardware devices. There would be none. The BlackBerry 10 announcement turned out to be just that: an announcement, a staged event to feed the BlackBerry partisans an early look at a revamped app framework. The idea is to get developers developing to feed the App World ecosystem. The "alpha" hardware Heins demonstrated was not a final spec, and the new line of hardware devices Karwa came to Orlando to see were yet to be announced.
Though Karwa watched as Heins channeled Apple's(AAPL) Steve Jobs, there was no Steve-style "one more thing" bombshell at the end of the program.
The demonstration ended. The lights just came on. And Karwa finished his ice cream.