BlackBerry comeback about more than one phone

The BlackBerry Torch was greeted with strong opening sales of 150,000 units, according to analysts. That’s right in the same neighborhood as recent Android phone debuts. Yet, various blogs are deriding the Torch as a failure. Not only does that seem unfair, but it also misses the point of the BlackBerry comeback.

The Wall Street Journal described the launch as “unimpressive—particularly in comparison with other recent smartphone debuts.” Which other smartphones? The only one they cite is the iPhone 4, which cleared 1.7M in its first three days. I don’t think that puts the “s” in “debuts”.

A fair comparison would include other debuts, such as the DROID X and 2 and the HTC EVO. Those also opened in the 150,000 range and were considered successful. So why not the Torch?

Like iPhone, BlackBerry refers to both the phone and the platform. However, Apple only launches one new iPhone a year. Hence, it’s fair to treat the phone as platform and compare the sales and market performance of that one phone against the entire family of Android phones. BlackBerry, like Android, encompasses multiple models. It’s not about one phone; it’s about the platform.

It’s fine to compare sales of the BlackBerry Torch against the iPhone 4’s, but it doesn’t make sense to analyze the sales numbers any differently than you would an individual Android phone against the iPhone 4. If an Android phone can open to similar numbers and be considered successful, those same numbers should not spell disaster for BlackBerry.

And unlike phones that sell out in one week, reports are that the Torch is not sold out, so it can still experience strong sales in its second week. If it flops in week two, it flops. But if it breaks 100k, we should definitely judge it as a marathon runner, not a sprinter.