BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is in a fight for its life, struggling to catch up with smartphone giants Apple and Samsung before its market share slides to zero. And to make this happen, RIM has released … a $2,050 phone?
Just weeks ahead of the premiere of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and phone (which might actually be called the BlackBerry Z10 or the BlackBerry London), Porsche Design has released its overhauled, specially designed BlackBerry phone with “a premium forged stainless steel frame, rich, genuine leather backing, wide iconic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard and large, luxurious full-touch screen.”
The BlackBerry P’9981 will retail in Canada for $2,050, and will be available exclusively at the Porsche Design store on a particularly ritzy stretch of Toronto’s Bloor Street, and in Porsche Design stores around the world, as well as at the uber-pricey Harrods in London.
"Since the beginning, our brand has been identified with the colour black," Juergen Gessler, CEO of the Porsche Design Group, said in a press release. "Our first product was a completely black watch. It was a revolutionary product and was a sensation all over the world. … The Porsche Design P'9981 Black follows this tradition."
RIM and Porsche Design released their first BlackBerry in 2012, winning a prestigious Plus X Award for smartphone of the year.
While releasing a high-end custom phone may seem like an odd move for a company struggling to maintain its customer base in the face of fierce competition, it may make sense for RIM, whose BlackBerry phones were traditionally popular with on-the-go executive types.
And Porsche isn’t the only luxury car brand that RIM is associating itself with. QNX Software, an Ottawa-based subsidiary of RIM, showcased a Bentley Continental GT concept car at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas this week. The company fitted out the car with a 17-inch interactive screen that allows full-feature video calls. (See video below.)
RIM faces a make-or-break moment later this month, when it unveils its next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system and phones on January 30.
There have been numerous leaks of the new phone, with some bloggers declaring the new generation will be known as the BlackBerry Z10 or the BlackBerry London.
Clearly, RIM has burnished its high-end credentials. Now all that remains to be seen is if the rest of the world will be as excited about the company’s new tech as Porsche and Bentley owners are sure to be.