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TheStreet Open House

RIM's (Latest) Critical Mistake

Stocks in this article: RIMM GOOG MSFT AAPL AMZN VZ T

2. RIM launched the PlayBook tablet in April 2011 without native applications for email, contacts, calendar and so forth. They assumed that people would access this information through their BlackBerry. The problem here was that many users had already ditched their BlackBerry for an iPhone or Android, and this usage scenario therefore was simply out of touch with reality. As a result, the journalistic corps laughed RIM out of the room and the PlayBook became a commercial failure.

3. Another mistake with the PlayBook launch was that it left a hole open for surfing the web through the "Bridge" connection with the BlackBerry without the carriers being able to control or charge for this functionality. Rightly or wrongly, this upset carriers such as AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) greatly, and both companies scrapped their launch plans last minute as a result. Remember, this was January/February 2011, before the first Android 3.0 tablet had been made available, and RIM could have been a significant alternative to Android had it not screwed this up.

With that sad trip down memory lane as a quick refresh (or cold shower), it looks like RIM is about to make critical mistake No. 4 in conjunction with the launch of BlackBerry 10.

Contracts

Consider this: RIM is about to launch a new operating system, a new ecosystem. It has fallen behind dramatically as Android, iOS and Windows 7 and 8 have convinced the market that they have staying power.

RIM does not have that level of confidence in the market right now. With this backdrop, RIM is launching a whole new OS. What is the thing you don't want to do in this situation, assuming you actually want people to buy this product and try it?

Force people into two-year contracts with traditional cell phone carriers, that's what.

At a press conference Tuesday, the CEO of RIM was asked if RIM would be selling BlackBerry 10 directly to consumers for cash, so that they could stick any SIM card into it. He said no.

People will be curious about BlackBerry 10, and hopefully for good reason. It may turn out to be a path-breaking product that catapults RIM "back into the game" just like Apple made its comeback after Steve Jobs returned in 1997.

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