BlackBerry Porsche Design P'9981 is a bold new look for RIM

RIM BlackBerry Porsche Design P'9881If this phone had been built by anyone other than RIM we might be reading about it in glowing terms with words like “sleek”, “elegant” and “sophisticated” being used to describe it.

But poor RIM can do nothing right these days it seems, even when it partners with iconic design house, Porsche Design.

What you’re looking at is the latest addition to an already crowded BlackBerry model line-up, the P’9981. But don’t worry, you aren’t likely going to see too many of them in stores or even on the street, unless that street is Yorkville Avenue in Toronto or Rodeo Drive in L.A. That’s because the Porsche Design P’9981 is not for you and I. It’s for people who are willing to spend a lot of money for something exclusive, even if there isn’t a shred of new technology under the hood. Because despite the re-worked exterior, the P’9981 is basically just a Bold 9900 in every other respect. RIM doesn’t plan to sell the P’9981 through any of the usual channels, opting instead for the exclusivity of Porsche Design stores. How exclusive is that you ask? Well, let’s just say that if you’re Canadian, it requires some cross-border shopping.

And again, if this had been built by VERTU, a luxury phone maker owned by Nokia, or perhaps a Korean company looking to do something special for the Asian market, no one would bat an eye. But we’re talking about RIM. A company that has had serious network outages, slipping market share, a poorly received tablet, a new operating system that has no launch date and a music service that has yet to see the light of day. So naturally, people hate this new handset.

I disagree. I’m not enthralled by the price – in fact I think it’s completely unjustified. But this BlackBerry is a thing of beauty. I’ve long been a fan of the Porsche Design team and their various products (everything from pens to coffee makers) and the P’9981 is unmistakably Porsche. From its super-clean lines to its flush, full-width glass screen and the all-stainless look – it’s sexy.

So what baffles me about the product is not so much the price (ludicrous) or people’s reaction to it (predictable) – it’s the way RIM chose to tell the world about it. Sorry let me re-phrase: the way they chose NOT to tell the world. At least not the North American press.

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Try to find an article on this phone in the major media from Canada or the U.S. and you’ll come up with little or nothing. Why would a Canadian company like RIM go out of its way to exclude Canadian media from this product launch?

Was it an oversight? I doubt it. Were they experimenting with the power of a virally-driven launch to see if it would get better coverage than a conventional press release? Nah.

I think RIM is embarrassed by the P’9981 and were kind of hoping that no one over here would notice. Which is why the launch of the phone took place in Dubai. A place that is nearly half a world away from Canada geographically, and in an entirely different universe economically.

Is the midst of one of the worst recessions in memory the right time to launch a phone for the uber-elite? Is now the right time in RIM’s history to be focused on style over substance? No. It isn’t.

Is the P’9981’s conspicuous excess a sign that RIM has lost what focus it once had, or is it merely another bump in an already pot-hole ridden highway?

Perhaps RIM should have asked Porsche for a Cayenne instead of a P’9981. They could do with a little extra clearance.


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  1. tony f

    Sounds like I reading a review about the DeLorean. C’mon its a phone.

    I have no idea how this is supposed to help Blackberry, and in fact I strongly believe this will put more negative press out there.

    You figure they would lay low until their promised software platform surfaces and the outage cloud dissipates.


  2. micheal elwood

    For us function over form people this looks like a great phone, an engineered design that says “I have a phone that works”, and truly, almost any phone out there will function acceptably. Consider cars now, they get smaller with less power and still keep up with everyone else. RIM is engaged in a military tactic, the best defense is an attack. Limit the quantity of P9981 and everyone will want one, after all phones to a great degree are all about “Look what I got”


  3. Dan White

    What a way to tick off your own Country! … Buy Canada eh?
    Now let’s talk about timing… the world is on the verge of a major economic course correction…. the fact that the stock and banking world operates outside of the real economics of everyday life… and ask ourselves.. is not the time to put out a device with major snob appeal and an out of touch with reality price?

    RIM clearly has divorced themselves from what made then great.

    To bad.

    Let’s hope the new device that comes out offers stellar VALUE … This new offering is their last chance…. Blow this opportunity and RIM’S goose is cooked.

    How about a two sided BB… back is large gorilla screen ala Android, and front is typical BB…

    Dan White


    • Claude Desaulniers

      I just replied that a 2 sided BB would be a great idea. Its really a fantastic idea. They would use the same battery and guts, just add a large touch-screen. Best of both worlds. I think that would push Rim ahead of the game. Now watch them read this and do it and Dan will get none of the credit.


  4. Phil

    The P’9981 is beautiful in design but at $2000.USD it is not going to fly off the shelves. You are showing the American/Anglo design the porche-design site shows the French Euro design.

    The following is the description and disclosure on the porche-design site for the P-9981:

    Porsche Design P´9981 Smartphone from BlackBerry®. Innovative in form and function – and made in Europe. The Porsche Design Smartphone is a must-have partner for design-minded people, whether at work or at play. Intuitive operation with a keyboard and 2.8-inch touch screen. Equipped for high-speed Internet and recording video in HD quality. And connected to a feature so important that it transcends all trends: It communicates a personal attitude.

    The BlackBerry and RIM families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks of Research In Motion Limited. RIM, Research In Motion and BlackBerry are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be pending or registered in other countries. Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance. All other brands, product names, company names, trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

    RIM assumes no obligations or liability and makes no representation, warranty, endorsement or guarantee in relation to any aspect of any third party products or services.

    Blackberry just keeps pissing it’s core bottom line off, just proving the adage that the bigger the ship the longer it takes to turn around. There is always someone willing and able to trim the iSails to pick up speed and snatch the iWin. Maybe Apple can use it’s mega cash accounts to buy and create iRIM.


  5. Claude Desaulniers

    Its construction and design sort of resembles the iphone 4. This phone is really nice, as is the iphone 4.


  6. Dan

    Have to agree with Micheal Elwood. If RIM can limit production of this machine they will sell every one of them. Hell I want one, can’t afford one but I want one.


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