While we’re a little disappointed that there’s as yet no information about the new BlackBerrys' release dates in New Zealand, we thought it might be time to take a look at how long BlackBerry has been part of the handset landscape here, and how they’ve performed.
The BlackBerry 5810 was RIM's first voice phone - before that, they ahd the Inter@ctive Pager (yes, it was really called that!), but it wasn't released here.
First BlackBerry in NZ?
As far as we could find, the earliest BlackBerry released in New Zealand was the 7230, launched back in 2004. It featured a thumb-typing keyboard, with small rounded buttons, and a screen. On top of wireless integration with email - advertising the fact that it didn’t need a cradle - it also had push email. All this in a device with 16MB flash memory. The 7730, pictured below, was a sibling phone with an LCD screen.
The 7710 went a step beyond mere wireless email, offering WAP - yes, web browsing! In 2005, we still called calendar and contact suites 'PIM's' - short for Personal Information Manager, and this stylish little handset synchronised both. It even had a colour screen - a genuine rarity in those days. It was competing against the likes of the Palm M series at the time. Check out its funky modified qwerty keyboard!
It has ...3G?
If you thought WAP was pretty awesome, you might have been the first in line for the BlackBerry 8707. It offered 3G and Bluetooth support, with a colour screen to boot. Reflecting the concerns over mobile phones and radiowaves, the published datasheet included specific absorption rate (SAR) values for the phone's radiation. Sign of the times, indeed!
Trackwheel to pearl
While earlier models use a trackwheel on the side of the phone, the BlackBerry Pearl series introduced a front-and-centre trackball to the design. These were launched in 2006, and continued until being replaced by the trackball-, then trackpad-enabled Curve and Bold models. The Pearl series also featured a flip-phone launched in 2008 - remember them?
BlackBerry, both bold and curved.
From late 2009 to 2012, the Curve and Bold series took over from the earlier Pearl form factor. While the Curve phones were released as early as 2007, they weren't 3G and we didn't see those here in New Zealand. Notable examples include some that we've reviewed here at PC World, such as the lightweight Curve 8520, and the impressive Bold 9000 (pictured below) and Bold 9900. All of these feature bevelled keyboards which made typing easy.
Touch me, BlackBerry
BlackBerry phones have also had touch interfaces - the Storm, from 2009, didn't cause much of a ripple, but the Torch 9800, pictured below, had more success, and featured a slideout keyboard to offer both fullscreen phone and full-size qwerty.
Shares and share
For years, BlackBerry's star seemed to be on the rise. In 2007, it sold 11.77 million handsets, and it gained around 10 million additional handsets sales each year, peaking at 51.54 million handsets sold in 2011.
But in the past two years, BlackBerry may have sold more and more handsets, but it was at the same time not increasing sales as fast as competitors such as Apple and Samsung. It reached a peak market share arounf 21% in 2009, and since that has dropped to less than 10% - a recent estimates put its 2013 market share at 1.1%.
The timeline of BlackBerry shows a progression from pagers, through to voice enabled typing-centric phones to the recently announced and touch-enabled Z10 and Q10 models. Those two devices, and the release of new operating system BlackBerry 10, could be the company's last chance at survival in a crowded smartphone market.