Research In Motion (NYSE:BB) -- or as it's now called, BlackBerry -- proved me wrong.
In my rundown of expectations for the new smartphone line, I expected the new line of BlackBerry 10 phones to be masterpieces of truly modern hardware with some unexpected wrinkles thrown in for good measure. But what we got looks a lot like Samsung's finest handset from last year. All the magic was reserved for the software running the show. Even there, BlackBerry didn't come up with the utter spit-shine you might expect after nearly two years of working on absolutely nothing else.
Here's the play-by-play recap. "RIM gets to start from scratch with a whole new set of expectations, another five years of rapidly advancing technology, and nothing left to lose," I said. "Not going for broke would be totally insane."
By this definition, BlackBerry is certifiably insane. There's nothing wrong with the hardware of the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 phones. But there's nothing fantastic about them, either. They run on the same core chip from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) that powered last year's Samsung Galaxy S III, among other best-selling Androids. Qualcomm has better technology on hand today, and the S III will be made obsolete in a few weeks when Sammy updates its top-shelf smartphone choice. But BlackBerry stuck with the tried-and-true option, which is growing a Lincoln-like beard by now.
So I was way wrong on the first point, which I thought was a blooming obvious, non-negotiable target.
On the second prediction, which called for at least one mind-blowing feature that nobody else could boast, I guess I'm not completely out to lunch. BlackBerry 10 comes with some nifty software to make slick presentations out of camera snapshots, and the ability to switch between securely separate work and personal environments in a hurry raised some eyebrows.
It's good stuff, and unexpected. My mind isn't exactly blown, but BlackBerry did come through with some surprises.
The jury will be out on the third point for some time. The presentation did nothing to change my opinion that BlackBerry is heading down the same dank, dark rabbit hole that killed Palm, but it's up to the marketplace to cast the final vote.
This stock did plunge 20% in the two days after unveiling BB10. You can chalk some of it up to "buy on the rumor, sell on the news" speculation, but that's hardly the whole story. Investors have seen BlackBerry's white knight, and they don't believe that he can slay the twin dragons that rule the smartphone world today.