Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

RIM’s new Porsche-designed BlackBerry was unveiled at the Porsche Design store in Toronto on June 14.

A lavish launch party for the new Porsche Design store on Toronto's Mink Mile this week featured the predictable tailored suits, models strutting down a makeshift runway, people wearing enormous sunglasses indoors and very high heels.

But the blackberries at the bottom of the guests' champagne flutes hinted at the evening's rather unlikely Bavarian luminary, who, at 6-foot-6, stood at least a head taller than anyone else – even in a room full of stilettos.

Thorsten Heins, Research In Motion Ltd.'s new CEO, was grinning, shaking hands and posing with fans in front of a 2.4-metre-tall copy of a BlackBerry outside the Bloor Street store. The party must have been a reprieve from the travails of his day job, where he is attempting – against steep odds – to turn around the struggling, Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone maker.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Heins was at the launch to unveil a high-end collaboration between RIM and Porsche: a BlackBerry made of forged steel and handcrafted Italian leather that costs nearly $2,000. The price tag, combined with a distinct Porsche-designed interface and keyboard, make the BlackBerry P'9981 more of a statement than a product that will materially affect RIM's dwindling revenues.

"We wanted to show what BlackBerry is capable of," Mr. Heins said, standing among the throng that had spilled out onto Bloor Street. "It talks to our strengths, it talks to our audience."

BlackBerry sales have shrunk dramatically as Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Google Inc.'s Android software have altered the smartphone sector. RIM has suffered through several disastrous fiscal quarters, weak product launches and profit warnings, and is about to undergo a dramatic restructuring likely to feature thousands of layoffs across its worldwide operations.

But as RIM seeks to retain its dominant market share in a slew of emerging markets such as Nigeria, Brazil and Indonesia, as well as in the Middle East, the posh new phone helps show that BlackBerry "is truly an aspirational brand," Mr. Heins stressed, adding that it shows RIM's devices are "about being out there and being successful."

Though a big hit at Harrods in London, and apparently prized by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jay Z, the new phone is unlikely to gain wide traction outside of exclusive circles.

"It just creates a lot of halo effect," said Mr. Heins, who, ahead of RIM's earnings later this month, was unable to discuss much company business. "We wanted to go high-end, not luxury – not an $8,000 phone," he said, describing the new device as "still affordable."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies