RIM’s new BlackBerry Tour may be a critical product for the company because it’s aimed at a consumer market that’s a shift from RIM’s usual enterprise targeting. The Tour is an upgrade, though in some ways a minor one, to the Storm but has the familiar BlackBerry keyboard.
The reason we think RIM is so hot on the new consumer opportunity is that it doesn’t want to be locked into a defensive war against the Palm Pre and the new iPhone 3GS for enterprise customers without at least threatening rivals’ broader base.
The summer is going to be a major face-off in the smartphone market, complicated by the fact that there is growing pressure (created in large part by the AT&T/iPhone deal) for Congress to create an open handset policy. While such a policy doesn’t kill smartphones, it may reduce provider incentives to push them, thus putting promotion of the devices in the hands of handset vendors alone.