BlackBerry Torch: Just What the Doctor Ordered?

BlackBerry and AT&T emphasized that they are improving tools and outreach for developers who can build applications for BlackBerry's new platform but they still have challenges to overcome, Golvin said.

One of the selling points for developers in the past has been the number of BlackBerry users who could potentially use their applications. But, Golvin said, applications built for the operating system unveiled today –- the BlackBerry 6 OS -- won't be able to run on the more than 100 million BlackBerry units the company has sold to date.

"With this new platform, they've essentially done a reset," he said. "They're starting from scratch."

But other analysts point out that even without a robust application market, BlackBerry phones have done well for themselves.

On a unit-shipment basis, RIM is still the No. 1 player in North America, said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst for International Data Corp.

"RIM, it's not by any stretch in trouble or anything like that. But what's happening is technology has really, specifically smart phones and smart phone operating systems, has really blurred the lines between business users and consumers, which used to be very distinct," he said, adding that RIM has historically attracted business users.

BlackBerry Torch Goes on Sale Aug. 12

Although research indicated that BlackBerry customers might move away from the phone, he added, there's a big difference between thinking about switching and actually going through with it.

When it comes time to actually make the decision, he said, some customers might find that non-BlackBerrys don't work as well with business applications.

"I think it's inevitable in any technology market that it matures and that multiple players enter and grab share, especially in a fast-growing market like smart phones," he said. "This is not unexpected to have multiple players with lots of share growing very quickly."

The Torch goes on sale at AT&T stores and other retail locations Aug. 12 and will cost $199 with a two-year AT&T contract, or $499 without a commitment. The new phone is Wi-Fi enabled, and includes a 5 MP camera with flash and built-in GPS.

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