It is ironic that the new Blackberry Torch came a few hours before a report by Nielsen that found out that most Android users, 58 per cent would go elsewhere rather than stick with the RIM ecosystem. Indeed, half of the respondents in the survey said that they'd choose the iPhone or and Android.
By comparison, only 3 per cent and 2 per cent of current Android and iPhone users respectively are mulling swapping their phones for any Blackberry handsets, figures that should leave RIM very worried about its short term future.
The Torch 9800, while an excellent phone in the Blackberry ecosystem, stands little chance when it comes to competing with the likes of the HTC Desire or the Apple iPhone. True, it has a "portrait" slide out keyboard but it is only a matter of time before the likes of HTC or Motorola come up with something similar.
As for the reasons why the Torch 9800 may mark the beginning of the end for RIM, well....
(1) Hardware specifications are underwhelming
There's not enough to differentiate between the Torch 9800 and the previous ones apart from some minor hardware improvements (higher pixel count for the camera, 802.11n added). On the other side, the screen size, the resolution, the processor speed and pretty much everything else remains the same. How can it compete with
(2) The competition is more ferocious than ever before
When it was launched the Motorola Dext was ground breaking. That was ten months ago and already it feels (and looks) ancient, having been superseded by the Droid months later. 2010 has seen the launch of more than a dozen or so of worthy Android handsets like the X10, the Galaxy or the Evo 4G and that's not even counting Windows Phone 7 and the iPhone.
(3) A smartphone success no longer depend on hardware but on the whole ecosystem
Apple and Android both owe a significant chunk of their success to the presence of a vibrant App marketplace with both having surpassed the one billion downloads milestone already. The beta of the second version of App world, which was released back in April 2009, is already in the pipeline. But it still significantly lags behind its two main rivals when it comes to App count (6500 at the last count compared to more than 100,000 for Google and more than 250,000 for Apple).
(4) Prices are going down quicker
Like most new Blackberry handsets, the Torch is likely to go on sale for on £35 monthly contracts or more. This is in line with what RIM has done in the past but we can't help but notice that other newly released handsets, like the Galaxy S, can be had for around £20 per month on a two year contract. Blackberry is increasingly looking vulnerable as many of its key features (instant messaging, push emails) are being taken over by competitors.