RIM CEO: Buggy smartphone software is the "new reality"

While our experience says otherwise, we really hope that the practice of launching buggy smartphones hasn't been institutionalized. The Wall Street Journal just published a report about the "bumpy launch" of the BlackBerry Storm -- a handset that WSJ sources say sold some 500,000 units in the first month following its global release. Not bad, but well off the 2.4 million launch pace seen by the iPhone 3G -- the phone the Storm had hoped to unseat as sales champ. The WSJ speculates that the relatively timid response stems from buggy or otherwise "clunky software" that crippled the user experience and performance at launch only to be (partially) corrected later via software updates. An abysmal scenario which echos the buggy 2.0 software that accompanied the iPhone 3G at launch.

Now, instead of pleading for mercy at the feet of disgruntled consumers, RIM co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, calls the post-launch scramble part of the "new reality" of making complex cellphones in large volumes. A Verizon spokesman noted that return percentages are measurable in single digits (standard for a smartphone) adding, "The sales and performance of the device have lived up to our expectations." Fine, but when expectations are high that the consumer experience will be poor, somehow that doesn't sound like a victory to us.